A 65-pound alligator snapping turtle, now named Lord Fairfax, was found in a residential area of Virginia’s Fairfax County.
Local officials say it was probably “a captive-bred animal” and would have “likely experienced a slow death as a result of either freezing or starvation.”
Lord Fairfax has a new home at the Virginia Zoo.
A routine animal control call last week took a prehistoric turn when responders found a massive alligator snapping turtle hiding out near a residential pond in Virginia’s Fairfax County. The 65-pound animal didn’t pose much of a threat to residents—but it can pack a nasty bite.
On June 11, the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (DGIF) posted about the encounter on Facebook—and named the reptile Lord Fairfax. “This turtle was most likely a captive-bred animal,” they wrote. And, amazingly, “at 65 pounds, this one was a youngster.” That’s right—these turtles can get much, much bigger.
According to the National Wildlife Federation (NWF), the alligator snapping turtle is the largest species of freshwater turtle, with adult males typically weighing in between 155 and 175 pounds, sometimes reaching up to 200 pounds. They’re native only to the United States, with a range that extends from northern Florida to eastern Texas, and even up to Iowa.
And about that jaw: Alligator snapping turtles pack a bite force of 1,000 pounds, according to the NWF. All that power means that they’re more than capable of snapping right through bone—but fortunately, they aren’t known to attack people. To steer clear of that mighty maw, the reptiles “should never be handled in the wild,” the NWF warns.
“Although the threat to humans was minimal, this animal would have most likely experienced a slow death as a result of either freezing or starvation,” Virginia DGIF continued in the post. “If you are considering a turtle as a pet, please do your homework first and find out what it takes to provide adequate care for a lifelong commitment.” (And maybe don’t pick one of the biggest, most dangerous turtles on the planet.)
Despite its intimidating, dinosaur-like appearance, this alligator snapping turtle was just lost and in need of a bit of help. Now, Lord Fairfax has a new home at the Virginia Zoo, where it can finally relax and may even become part of a new exhibit. You know the saying: Don’t judge a snapping turtle by its jaw.
Recently, our Animal Protection Police received a call about a large turtle in a residential area of Alexandria. Much to their surprise, it was a 65 lb alligator snapping turtle! Learn more at: https://t.co/RtHz4aJ5qP #FCPD pic.twitter.com/qgYFRmUyMS
— Fairfax County Police (@FairfaxCountyPD) June 15, 2020
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