A 65-pound alligator snapping turtle was found in a residential area of Alexandria, Virginia, in Fairfax County. The turtle has been named Lord Fairfax.
The turtle was found on May 28 in the 5600 Belleau Woods Lane neighborhood, according to a post from the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries. The turtle is native to freshwater rivers that flow into the Gulf of Mexico, in Georgia, Florida, Texas and Mississippi. The common snapping turtle is native to Virginia. The two species are distant relatives, according to the Earth Touch News Network. Officials believe that Lord Fairfax was likely bred in captivity and released to the wild. He is thought to be young by comparison, older turtles can weigh up to 200 pounds.
Officials Say Lord Fairfax Would Have Starved or Frozen to Death if He Hadn’t Been Rescued
The alligator snapping turtle’s threat to humans is minimal. Lord Fairfax would have either starved or froze to death if he had not been rescued, according to officials. Lord Fairfax is now living in The Virginia Zoo in Norfolk as part of a new exhibit. The fisheries statement includes the words, “If you are considering a turtle as a pet, please do your homework first and find out what it takes to provide adequate care for a lifelong commitment.”
There Are Myths About the Turtle Being Dangerous to Humans But No Proof
The alligator snapping turtle’s diet is nearly entirely made up of other animals, including other turtles. They have also been known to eat small American alligators. They are night hunters who use their worm-like tongue appendage to attract their prey. According to turtle zoologist Peter Charles Howard Pritchard, “There are many myths about alligator snapping turtles attacking, even killing, humans; none of which are true.” Pritchard does note however that if carelessly handled, humans have been known to have had their fingers severed after being bit.
The National Wildlife Fund says that the alligator snapping turtle can remain underwater for as long as 50 minutes before needing to come up for air. The same article says that only females venture on to dry land to lay eggs. A Smithsonian article on the turtles says that females have been known to travel up to 50 miles inland to create a nest. This occurs in the early summer months. In the wild, the turtles typically live between 11 and 45 years. In captivity, they have been known to live for up to 70 years. They are not an endangered species.
A 70 Pound Alligator Snapping Turtle Was Recently Discovered in Mississippi
The Mississippi Clarion-Ledger reported on June 10 that a man caught a 70-pound snapping turtle in the town of Caledonia. The man, named as Rick Conner, measured the turtle saying, “He was 21 inches from the top of the shell to the back of the shell. His head was seven inches across. You could have easily put a softball in his mouth. I tried to measure his tail, but I couldn’t pull it out. You’d be surprised how strong the tail is.”
The heaviest alligator snapping turtle ever is not known. There were unverified reports of a 403-pound turtle being discovered in Kansas in 1937. In October 2014, the first alligator snapping turtle in 30 years was found in Illinois.