Wildlife authorities promptly euthanized a large alligator snapping turtle shortly after it was caught at the Prineville Reservoir in Oregon last week. According to Department of Fish and Wildlife conservation biologist Simon Wray, they believe that the turtle had been someone’s pet, which had grown too big and aggressive to handle, and then released into the reservoir.
"It's a poor choice for a pet and the environment," he said.
Indigenous to the southeastern U.S., from the Florida panhandle to East Texas, as well as southeastern Kansas, Missouri, and parts of Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Tennessee and western Kentucky, alligator snapping turtles (Macrochelys temminckii) are the biggest freshwater turtles, growing to weigh 250 pounds. Although only nesting females generally venture onto open land, the species poses a primary danger for fish and ducklings. However they will eat just about anything they can catch or scavenge including snakes, crayfish, worms, water birds, aquatic plants, and other turtles, as well as the occasional squirrels, muskrats, nutrias, possums, raccoons, and even armadillos who venture too close to the water’s edge. In some cases, they have been known to bite humans as well.
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