Timing is Everything!

One of the heaviest fresh water turtles in the world, the alligator snapping turtle is named because of its immensely powerful jaws and distinct ridges on its shell that are similar in appearance to the rough, ridged skin of an alligator.

The inside of the turtle’s mouth is camouflaged, and it possesses a “worm-shaped” appendage on the tip of its tongue used to lure fish, a form of aggressive mimicry.  The turtle hunts by lying motionless in the water with its mouth wide open. The tongue imitates the movements of a worm, luring prey to the turtle’s mouth. The mouth is then closed with tremendous speed and force, completing the ambush.

Disclosure: the fish was fine, this was a happy coincidence re: perspective!


Sidebar – perhaps of interest to Dr. Seuss book fans:  Why he wrote “Yertle the Turtle” (I believe you’ll be as surprised as I when I researched!) Four Aldabra giant tortoises reside at the Greensboro Science Center.  Tortoises are cold-blooded (their internal temperature is the same temperature as their surroundings). Because of this, the tortoises spend colder days inside their blockhouse at the center, which is heated to a comfortable 80 degrees.  During warmer weather, they’re typically sleeping, eating and/or cooling off in their pond.  They enjoy leafy greens, squash, tomatoes, watermelons, pumpkins, and cantaloupes.

One of the world’s largest land tortoises, Aldabra giant tortoises can reach sizes of up to 550 pounds and ages of up to 150 years old.  Its shell, or carapace, is a black, brown or tan color with a high, domed shape, averaging 48″ in length.  It has stocky, heavily scaled legs to support its heavy body.  The neck of the this tortoise is very long, even for its great size, which helps the animal to exploit tree branches up to a meter from the ground as a food source.