Guardian Nature School Team Contact Blog Project Noah Facebook Project Noah Twitter

A global community of nature enthusiasts
photographing and learning about wildlife

Join Project Noah!
nature school apple icon

Project Noah Nature School visit nature school

Alligator Snapping Turtle

Macrochelys temminckii


Spotting #700 :) The carapace has three distinct rows of raised plates, and the plastron is greatly reduced, showing lots of skin. The skin is dark and the head is very large. When feeding, they hold their mouths open and stick out their tongue which looks like a worm. Other turtles and fish go after the "worm" for a quick snack, where they end up being a snack for these guys! In waters where these guys are present, you will often see other turtles with pie-shaped wedges taken out of their shells where they got bit by one of these guys and got away. They can get upwards of 250 lbs, but this was a small one, less than 10 lbs.


Found in freshwater in the southeastern US. They typically prefer moving water, but I have found some in ponds as well. Found in East Texas at a national wildlife refuge.

Species ID Suggestions

Sign in to suggest organism ID


Jacob Gorneau
Jacob Gorneau 9 years ago

Spectacular series of a spectacular reptile!

AshleyT 9 years ago

Thanks naross and drP!

drP 9 years ago


naross 9 years ago

Not known for it's sense of humour, I'll bet. An amazing animal and brilliant photo series. Well spotted, Ashley.

AshleyT 9 years ago

Good luck on your defense, Travis! :)

TravisAnthony 9 years ago

What a cute youngin! I'm defending my thesis on Monday, the topic of which is reintroduction of alligator snappers in OK!

RiekoS 9 years ago

Take off a finger? Wow...

AshleyT 9 years ago

Thanks Fyn! And I haven't seen a common snapper yet :)

Fyn  Kynd
Fyn Kynd 9 years ago

Awesome spotting! Congratulations! I've only seen Common... Great shots!

AshleyT 9 years ago

Aren't they adorable, Jamie? :)

jamiewgoodspeed 9 years ago

aw i saw one about that size in MO

AshleyT 9 years ago

Thanks Maria and Karen :)

KarenL 9 years ago

Fun fact! The alligator snapping turtle has evolved a unique hunting technique; its tongue sports a bright-red, worm-like protuberance that it wiggles whilst laying motionless on the riverbed, luring unsuspecting frogs and fish close enough to be snatched.

Maria dB
Maria dB 9 years ago

Great series, Ashley!

AshleyT 9 years ago

Thanks Antonio :)

gorgeous capture ashley,great 700 spotting,great series,congrats and thanks for sharing

AshleyT 9 years ago

Thanks Mandy! He thought he was pretty threatening, but he was just adorable haha. No matter how small, they can still take off a finger so we were all careful around him :)

Mandy Hollman
Mandy Hollman 9 years ago

Wow! What an amazing and rare find. Lucky you :)
Awww, it's a little one. Cute and formidable at the same time!

Spotted by

Texas, USA

Spotted on Apr 27, 2013
Submitted on May 2, 2013

Noah Guardians
Noah Sponsors
join Project Noah Team

Join the Project Noah Team