Alligator Snapping Turtle Considered For Endangered Species List Due To Drastic Decline In Population

One of the largest freshwater turtle species in North America is disappearing at an alarming rate due to decades of legal and illegal harvesting, nest predation, and fishing activities.

There are only an estimated 2,000 Suwannee alligator snapping turtles remaining in Florida and Georgia. After conducting a thorough review via a Species Status Assessment, The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) has proposed they be listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act.

These specific prehistoric-looking turtles are found only in the Suwannee River basin of Georgia and Florida. They spend nearly all of their time in the water. The only time the females come out is to lay eggs.

These alligator snapping turtle hatchlings have a long way to go before they become one of the largest freshwater…

Posted by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on Friday, November 8, 2019

According to The National Wildlife Federation, the unique turtles have a bite force of 1,000 pounds, which can snap bones, and can hold their breath for up to 50 minutes.

The males can grow up to 200 pounds and the species name comes from their strong jaw and spiky shell that resembles an alligator.

“The science that the Service has gathered on this turtle indicates it could become endangered in the near future,” said the Service’s Regional Director Leopoldo Miranda-Castro. “We fully understand how iconic and valuable this turtle is to the people of Florida and Georgia, and are determined to work with our partners to conserve and protect them using the best available science.”

This week our biologists were out checking traps set for the Suwannee alligator snapping turtle, Macrochelys…

Posted by FWC Fish and Wildlife Research Institute on Friday, August 21, 2020

The largest threats these reptiles faces are:

  • Illegal harvest
  • Drowning as a result of bycatch from recreational and commercial fishing
  • Hook ingestion
  • Habitat alteration
  • Nest predation

The USFWS said it is a collaborative effort to preserve and recover species that are listed as threatened or endangered. They work with states, tribes, nonprofit organizations, universities, researchers, private individuals, and other federal agencies.

An incredible sight indeed! From our colleague Mike Knoerr! A Suwannee Alligator Snapping Turtle (Macrochelys…

Posted by Turtle Survival Alliance on Tuesday, January 19, 2021

They hope to help the Suwannee alligator snapping turtle recover like they did for the American alligator. “American alligator populations reached all-time lows in the 1950s, primarily due to market- hunting and habitat loss. However, in 1987, the alligator was pronounced fully recovered, making it one of the first endangered species success stories,” states USFWS.

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