This giant snapping turtle in the Chicago River is an internet sensation: Meet 'Chonk'

A massive snapping turtle nicknamed "Chonkasaurus" spotted by a Windy City resident sunbathing in the Chicago River is gaining internet popularity.

"Great to see this beast thriving here on what was once such a toxic river, but is slowly getting cleaned up & restored," Joey Santore, who shared video of Chonkasaurus on Twitter, wrote in the post. "Somebody planted a bunch of native plants up the river from here, too. I can only wonder this thing's been eating."

In his Wednesday post, Santore included hilarious commentary about the surprise sighting as he kayaked along the river and chatted with another person about the giant reptile.

"That's a massive turtle...look at that beast," Santore is heard saying in the post as the turtle rests on rocks. "Hey how ya doing guy? You look good, your healthy.

"You ever heard of liquid salad? That's a scene if there ever was one."

A massive snapping turtle dubbed "Chonkasaurus" spotted by passerbys sunbathing on rocks in the Chicago River is gaining internet popularity.
A massive snapping turtle dubbed "Chonkasaurus" spotted by passerbys sunbathing on rocks in the Chicago River is gaining internet popularity.

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Ill tempered with a serious bite

According to Friends of the Chicago River, people should avoid getting close to the common snapping turtle, which spends much of its time on the bottom of bodies of water.

"They are primarily nocturnal, but will feed underwater during the day ambushing their prey, the organization posted on its website. "Snapping turtles are ill-tempered and capable of producing a very serious bite."

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They live 30 to 40 years and eat anything from insects to small mammals. A common snapping turtle can weigh 20 to 75 pounds, the organization said.

According to the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, snapping turtles are quite aggressive out of water and may attempt to bite, but are calmer in water.

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Natalie Neysa Alund covers breaking and trending news for USA TODAY. Reach her at and follow her on Twitter @nataliealund.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Chicago River's giant snapping turtle chonkasaurus gains internet fame