In this episode we talk about the Alligator Snapping Turtle! Relax, unwind, and join me in the rivers of Northern Florida, where we learn all about a modern day river dinosaur.
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hello everyone welcome back to relax with animal facts I am staff Wolff and today I am going to be learning with you about our furry scaly or possibly even slimy friends and in today's case it is going to be a hard shelled friend of ours because we are covering the %HESITATION so wonderful alligator snapping turtle this of course is a very special listener episode dedicated to Donna and her son to Jodie and to carry an thank you all for your wonderful suggestion and I hope you enjoy your very own episode now some of you may have noticed that this episode has been uploaded on a Wednesday morning instead of a Friday morning and that is because from this episode on word each episode will be posted on Wednesdays at two A. M. as my schedule has changed and I have to make sure I have time to record and edit episodes at certain times so welcome everybody to the sixth season of the relax with animal facts podcast I cannot believe how many episodes we have done already and I have a feeling that season six is going to be a good one if you like the show and want to help it keep going you can become a patron on the patriotic relax with animal facts and you will also get access to exclusive bonus episodes which you can listen to at your leisure for how to request your very own episode and for all the facts that are used in this particular episode that information is in the description or the show notes or you can wait till the very end of the podcast in which I will talk about it and now we are going to begin to slow down just a little bit and now before we start our journey I have three E. exhortations for you the first is to grab a pair of rubber boots if you don't have one don't worry we supply them we are certainly going to be needing those boots for where we're going and the second thing I ask is that you sort of notice where you are carrying some tension throughout most of our days sometimes we will be carrying tension in the shoulders or in the head or in the arms and when we're trying to rest and relax it does not do us much good when we are stiff as a board and so what I encourage you to do is to imagine a piece of Jello and try your best to embody that or to impersonate that we really do not need all of that tension for our journey today and my third asking of you is that you give your mind permission to wonder and journey with me and today we are going to be journeying together into the rivers of northern Florida with the alligator snapping turtle resides I am sure for many of us in this January season have no problem with going into the very warm climate that Florida offers the moisture of the error the orchestral singing of all of the insects and creatures that wander these places all of this makes for a very welcome respite from some of the places we might be from if you are a Canadian I look mostly at you but while today we are coasting through these rivers of northern Florida we could be in a couple of different areas alligator snapping turtles are native to the southern United States and %HESITATION found in rivers and streams that feed into the Gulf of Mexico and so the range will stretch between Iowa Texas Georgia and northern Florida Florida has quite a reputation for some scaly and almost dinosaur like creatures and so I figured why not make our track here so as we're looking around and attempting to find one of these amazing critters let's just cover some preliminary things about them the first is their name the alligator snapping turtle the scientific name that they bear is micro chalice Teman Niki that first word of their scientific name macro chalice is a combination of macro and callous which roughly translated would be something like large tortoise Teman Niki seems to simply have been named after reductions the wall the gist that perhaps found them first or just name to them first there is as a cat in Asia that is known as the captive cuma temen Niki and given how different the alligator snapping turtle and cats in Asia or it is likely just a nod to the Dutch soldiers to had something to do with these creatures during his research the alligator snapping turtle like other turtles is a reptile it is not an amphibian it is most certainly not a mammal but instead a reptile and let me just simply define that for us reptiles are air breathing cold blooded vertebrates that have these scaly bodies rather than some of the other popular options like feathers or hair the majority of reptiles our egg laying some of them will give birth to live young but in the case of the alligator snapping turtle they swim with the majority and we can now take a closer look at the alligator snapping turtle as we approach this one on the shrubs just outside of the water one thing you will notice right away is there striking appearance they do not look like many other creatures we have covered on the podcast before but rather it looks like something that would have been alive a long time ago this almost Jurassic looking creature is considered to be the single largest freshwater turtle in North America they will not take the absolute number one spot as the whole world is concerned but they are still among some of the largest so here in northern Florida this alligator snapping turtle that we're looking at is the big dog as far as turtles are concerned here in North America they have a huge spike it's shell draws that resemble something like beaks and detail that is ornamented in these thick scales some researchers and scientists point to them as something like the dinosaur of the turtle world they truly are something special to behold and it is wonderful that we get this opportunity today now for the majority we will probably be staying on the air boat and while we are going to be able to get very close today on other journeys you may take say if you were to go out into the rivers of Florida to moral I very much would not recommend getting as close as we will you will find out why in just a moment so along with them being one of the largest in terms of length and height they're one of the largest and that is by weight they will weigh an average of two hundred and twenty pounds which is around a hundred kilograms as far as many turtle species go this puts them into a category of behemoth combine their Goliath stature with immensely powerful jaws and distinct ridges on its shell this is the reason its common name is what it is so when they are partly submerged or in certain contexts it may certainly look like an alligator these creatures have a huge heavy head with the long and thick shell a quipped with these three dorsal riches of large scales better referred to as osteo terms osteoderms literally means something like bones skin and just to avoid any unnecessary confusion dorsal just refers to anything that is on the back or the post terrier of something and so they have three ridges of large scales on the back of their shell as a big dinosaur lover myself they reminded me something in like a little Stegosaurus many dinosaurs would brandish these amazing and elaborate plates and these plates look kind of similar but on a smaller scale are present in this particular turtle the alligator snapping turtle is going to have a very solid gray black brown or sometimes all live green color that olive green color will often be assisted with a blanket or covering of algae given their environment and how they live their daily lives it makes sense why they would have algae all over them and in addition to the algae that provides them some camouflage in this greenish area that we're in they will have these yellow patterns around to their eyes which will mask or camouflage them in the surrounding environment and one thing that separates the alligator snapping turtle apart from every other snapping turtle is the placement of their allies this one has their eyes on the sides of their head instead of forward facing looking a bit closer we can see that their jaw is one of a men's size and power and so it is possible that forward facing eyes would simply not benefit them very much having their eyes on the side is going to allow for their jaws to be just absolutely massive in the way that they are now and let's go a little bit deeper into their size and their weight the range of their life expectancy can often be between fifty to a hundred years old when we are talking about the two hundred and twenty pound alligator snapping turtle we are referring specifically to the males of the species and keep in mind that they do not always exceed that two hundred and twenty pound mark they will often be the about a hundred and seventy five pounds averaging about twenty six inches in the length of their shell the females however are significantly smaller and will top out at around fifty pounds or twenty two twenty two kilograms this is a species where you can really tell the difference between the males and the females something that is not always quite conspicuous in different species now we are looking at this alligator snapper outside of the water but this is not usually the case they will spend most of their time in the water they will stay completely submerged for forty to fifty minutes at a time before coming back for air and so the reason that we're looking on this one today on the land this is because alligator snappers will make an exception and that is around the mating season the females will go about a hundred and sixty feet inland away from these waters to create the nests for more little turtles so what exactly is the alligator snapping turtle doing for that forty to fifty minutes it is spending underneath the water it is of course attempting to hunt and eat and the way the alligator snapper eats is really cool if you listened to the anglerfish episode you'll find out that the anglerfish fishes for other fish using something like a bioluminescent bluer in order to draw fission and went to the alligator snapper does is not all that different they have a very unique and natural Luer that is integrated into their anatomy there is a piece of flesh that is attached to their tongue that resembles a bright red warm and on the bottom of a river a read the swing worm will catch the attention of many visitors so curious fish or frogs will take the chance of just getting a closer look and they will be quickly snatched up so this kind of fishing or almost an ambush like behavior is not the only way in which they hunt for prey they can and will actively search for prey and they will do this through special receptors that allow them to taste the chemicals in the water and from that little bit of information discover whether there is a particular species or not so when certain creatures hide themselves in the territory in the sediment on the river bottom the alligator snapper will sniff them out or rather taste them out I suppose said they will eat most of what is swimming around on the river bottom including fish and other aquatic animals but they can also eat small mammals a practice they regularly indulge in and they will also eat vegetation from time to time and so while they are primarily carnivorous they will sometimes indulging their greens that they find so during these hunting sprees as we learned they will be submerged completely for forty to fifty minutes at a time but they can actually survive months without taking a single breath so when we look at turtles in general and of course at the alligator snapping turtle we can see that they have impressive shells and the reason they have the shells is the same reason that we as human beings have human skin it is an external barrier and in fact a much harder one than our human skin and to this barrier that turtles carry with them all around like mobile homes are used to protect their internal organs now many turtles chemical fully into their shells but in the case of the alligator snapping turtle that will not happen their heads are far too large their necks or for too long but they will supplement this defensive disadvantage with an offense of advantage and one important aspect regarding the defense mechanisms of the alligator snapping turtle is simply that they do not really need them snapping turtles in the majority of areas in which they live have no natural predators besides humans now that might have something to do with that offense of force that we were just talking about and that offensive force is the bite strength the bites speed and the power of those Johns they have a bite force of about one thousand pounds that gives them the ability to play it straight through bone this is why it is very much not recommended to go out on a journey by yourself and attempt to handle these creatures they are magnificent and while today we can get quite close they are best admired from a safe distance the alligator snapping turtle rather enjoys its quiet times it is a typically very solitary creature but we'll make exceptions when attempting to find a mate in general females will lay about one clutch per year and sometimes one every other year when I say a clutch I mean sort of a cluster of X. and the clutch sizes for the alligator snapper will go between ten to sixty eggs at a time after about a hundred days over three and a half months there will be new alligator snappers running around and doing what they do best they will be able to have their own baby snappers in the future after about eleven or thirteen years of development when they are little baby alligator snappers is really the only time that they will be in much danger when they grow to be adults as we have learned they become particularly massive creatures that are able to fight their way through much adult alligator snapping turtles have even been known in the past to kill and eat small American alligators so not only has the alligator snapping turtle taken the alligators name what will go ahead and sometimes take in the entire alligator for lunch and for the first time on this podcast I am going to talk about a charity after a few suggestions from you guys and your support through Instagram polls we decided that each episode is going to feature a charity that is covering a specific creature that we're learning about and the charity for today is the Louisiana alligator snapping turtle foundation they are a nonprofit organization and a breeding facility for alligator snapping turtles they have a pond that is stocked full with adult alligator snapping turtles and once the turtles lay their eggs they will harvest the eggs incubate the eggs and keep the little hatchlings healthy for two years before releasing them into the wild their efforts of course sustained the population there local in Louisiana and so if you are from there or if you wish to learn more about them I will leave the link in the description again that's the Louisiana alligator snapping turtle foundation very cool and now let us move to the name of the alligator snapping turtle how exactly did they get their name or what does it mean well we have already spoiled the surprise that the reason they have three Alec eater distinction there is because of their very close resemblance physically to the American alligator I feel it would still be interesting to discover what's the word turtle is or where it comes from well we started using the word tortoise or turtle in around the sixteen hundreds we took it from the French which we often do in English and it is possible that the French integrated the Latin word turned her with a little bit of changes to make it into that French word the Latin word terror terror is something resembling a turtle dove which is spelled in a way to imitate the birds %HESITATION %HESITATION and so the exact origin of the word turtle is not very clear the earliest attestations of the word turtle being used in any way sort of goes back only to the seventeenth century and the word turtle dove to the fourteenth century some postulate that the English words that we use of turtle was just a sailor's kind of butchering of the French version this is not the first time that we simply have to shrug our shoulders the etymological process over the historical derivation of words as it makes its changes through time and through culture and society it is not always a very neat and tidy process language can certainly be messy and there is not always someone there to record all of it and now let us move on to the review portion of the show and today's review is coming all the way from Australia I can finally say that it is coming all the way from somewhere and this one is written by tree demon and treat rights the voice is slow and boring but I love animals so the facts are very interesting to me can you do a bonus episode about how green ants and Kowal those don't get along anyway you're doing great just maybe talk a little less dead or board thank you tree for taking the time to leave that review I am so glad that you listen to the show and that you love animals and you find the facts interesting as regards my voice I can assure you that it is not something that I am doing unintentionally due to the nature of the show I wanted it to be possible for both somebody attempting to fall asleep to listen and drift off and keep someone else attentive if they so choose it is a really hard fine line for me to draw and I definitely have not mastered it yet I ought to talk slower rather than faster but one thing is for sure I am definitely not bored I have had another review which said that my voice was the incarnation of sadness which was my favorite comment I think of all time but that is simply the way my voice sounds in regards to that bonus episode about green ends and Cole Wallace I will have to search that up and find out exactly why they don't get along that is a great suggestion and thank you tree for the very good and critical feedback I cherish all of it and I am so grateful to have you as a listener if the show helps you in any way and do you want to give back leaving a review is one of the biggest ways you can help the show by doing so you give me critical feedback you allow more people to find the podcast you help the show gets better swing courage all of you to leave a review or to follow or subscribe wherever you are because it truly makes it Ferenc if you want to request your very own episode you can do so in one of two ways usually I say one of three ways but I will explain in a moment you can send your animal requests to relax with animal facts dot com by clicking on the animal request tab or you can send an email to relax with animal facts at two G. mail dot com now normally I included the Instagram relax with animal facts but given the volume of requests it is really hard to be able to keep track on Instagram as to what has been requested now there are plenty of reasons to follow the podcast Instagram apart from requesting things updates to the show or even quizzes on animals but I am having a really tough time keeping up with all of the new Instagram requests I basically have to log it in a Google doc and corroborates them with the ones I have on my email and it leaves too much room for error where I might not show up somebody out on their episode and that is not something that is acceptable to me I want to make sure that everyone that request get the shout out that they deserve and so if you'd like to request something going to the website relax with animal facts dot com and going to the animal request tab is the single easiest way to request your animal and to write into the show now the facts used in this episode come from and W. F. dot org National Geographic dot com national zoo dot S. I dot EDU at him online dot com animalia dot the bio and thought co dot com all of these resources are in the description and are there for your exploration so encourage you to support them because without their country you shouldn't this episode would not have been possible thank you all for joining me on this episode it has been such a fun one what a great way to kick off the sixth season of the podcast I hope that you will all join me on the next podcast episode with the next animal take care