So an alligator snapping turtle walks into a Chinese lake…

Going face-to-face with an excited alligator snapping turtle is never a good idea. Here we see its mouth open wide and ready to snap down with 1,500 psi of force.

If you're this close to the mouth of an alligator snapping turtle, be prepared to lose an appendage or a camera lens. (Photo: Wikipedia)

It may sound like a bad joke is coming, but in reality, an alligator snapping turtle was found in Weishan Lake in southern China’s Anhui province, writes Gather. That’s far outside their normal habitat, which various sources attribute to being the freshwater lakes of the southeastern United States. Gather speculates that the turtle may have escaped from the exotic animal trade, which PETA points out creates suffering for the animals involved and can spread diseases that affect humans and other animals.

The alligator snapping turtle – a link to our prehistory?

The alligator snapping turtle is a freshwater turtle that looks like a holdover from the land that time forgot. As National Geographic puts it, they are the “dinosaurs of the turtle world,” and they certainly aren’t pretty enough to appear in a Lisa Frank product line that you’d need payday loans with a basic credit check to purchase. They can grow to be more than two feet long and weigh as much as 220 pounds. They are also known to regularly live more than 100 years. According to the cable program “Dirty Jobs” (video below), certain members of the alligator snapping turtle species have been found with musket balls inside them that date back to America’s Civil War (1861-1865). Considering that the alligator snapping turtle is the largest freshwater turtle in North America, it may not be so surprising that they could survive being shot with a Confederate musket ball.

It takes armor plating to survive the bite of an alligator snapping turtle

Not only are alligator snapping turtles the largest freshwater turtles in North America, but in terms of sheer force, they have one of the strongest bites of any animal. In the case of the alligator snapping turtle, great white shark and hyena, you’re facing some serious pounds per square inch. Experts have measured the force of the alligator snapping turtle’s bite to be in the neighborhood of 1,500 psi. That kind of power comes in handy when a fish or frog keys in on the worm-like appendage attached to the alligator snapping turtle’s tongue. The fish goes for the meal and swims into the open mouth of the turtle. Next, the jaw snaps shut and kills the prey almost instantly.

A final word on the alligator snapping turtle and the animal trade

Alligator snapping turtles have no natural predators in nature, thanks to their spiked shells, extremely thick skin and bone-shattering bite. Humans pose the greatest threat, and it is humans that have made the alligator snapping turtle popular in the international exotic animal trade. Find out what can be done to help save this threatened species by clicking the PETA link below.


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