KINGDOM  Animalia

PHYLUM    Chordata

CLASS    Reptilia

ORDER    Testudines

FAMILY    Chelydridae  (Snapping Turtles)

GENUS/SPECIES  Macrochelys temminckii



Largest freshwater turtle in the world weighing 70-80 kg (155-175 lb) with a shell length up to 79 cm (32 in). Their  big head can be over 9 in wide with three ridge keels on the broad carapace rising to knobby keels. They usually have algae covering their backs since they spend most of their time under water coming to the surface sometimes as little as 50 min between breaths.

The largest individual turtle in the exhibit is over 55 kgs (121) pounds. The rest are likely ~45 kg (100 pounds)



Southeastern United States in primarily quiet, muddy freshwater rivers, streams, lakes and ponds that drain into  the Gulf of Mexico. Females leave water only to deposit eggs and male occasionally will bask in the sun.



Lie-in-wait predator. Rests on substrate with its mouth open and lures fish to its mouth with a movable, pink wormlike tongue appendage. Also takes crayfish, crabs, snails, freshwater mussels, salamanders, snakes, very small alligators, small mammals, water birds, briar roots, wild grapes, acorns, and scavenges as well.  



They are fed cut trout 2-3 times per week.



Males climb onto the female’s carapace from behind. As in all reptiles, fertilization is internal. Female’s terrestrial nest is approximately within 50m (160 ft). of water. A single clutch of 8-52 eggs (35 average) is laid per year with a 3.5 to 4.5 month incubation period.  Warm and low incubation temperatures result in all female neonates. Intermediate incubation temperatures produce mostly males.  They mature in 11-13 years and can live to 70 years of age in captivity.


Swamp SW02