An alligator snapping turtle was found in Prineville Reservoir in Oregon. The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife received reports that a giant turtle was spotted last week. When they finally located the reptile they were stunned, as the species is not native to the area.
Wildlife officials safely captured and euthanized the turtle. Prineville biologist Greg Jackle said the reptile was sedated prior to euthanization, according to American Veterinary Medical Association guidelines.
The shell will be saved as a learning tool. Officials believe an area resident purchased the turtle as a baby. As it grew older, the owner likely realized some turtles do not make good pets. Unfortunately, unwanted pets quickly become invasive species.
Alligator snapping turtles are very small and cute when they are born. However, they reach an average of 175 pounds and can live up to 100 years. The reptiles have a spiked upper shell, a beak-shaped mouth, and powerful jaws. They can become very aggressive when provoked.
As reported by National Geographic, the turtles are native to the southeastern United States. Their only known predator is the human. The turtles are hunted as trophies, souvenirs, and for the exotic pet trade.
According to the Statesman Journal, wildlife officials hope the alligator snapping turtle shell will educate people about dumping unwanted pets into the wild. Invasive species often start out as pets. Unfortunately, they can wreak havoc on an ecosystem. Alligators, snakes, and certain turtles are a specific concern as they eat local wildlife and can attack people.
Invasive species coordinator Rick Boatner said the particular breed is rarely seen in Oregon, although other parts of the state have experienced problems with different species of snapping turtles.
Alligator snapping turtles are probably not ideal pets, and they certainly do not belong in the northwest United States. Wildlife officials said the turtle probably would not have survived the winter.
[Image via Flickr]