Alligator snapping turtle finds new home

Published 8:30 pm Tuesday, July 14, 2009

He wasn’t the cutest or cuddliest animal ever adopted from the Chilton County Humane Society, but a 50-plus pound alligator snapping turtle found a new home Tuesday nevertheless.

Animal control officer Bobby Tucker received a complaint around 6 a.m. Tuesday about a turtle that was eating all the fish in a Jemison resident’s pond.

When he arrived at the home off County Road 51 near Jemison High School, he couldn’t believe what he saw.

“In my 10 years, that’s the biggest one turtle I’ve ever seen around here,” said Tucker, who works for the towns of Jemison and Thorsby.

Not quite sure what to do with the giant turtle, Tucker brought the animal to the Chilton County Humane Society.

Once there, Tucker and Joe Murphy, humane society director, conferred about what to do with the creature. The turtle couldn’t go back to the same area because the Jemison resident threatened to shoot it if it continued to eat his fish.

“I’ve got to give him an opportunity to make it,” said Tucker.

The men called several agencies, including the Alabama Wildlife Center, before finding a North Chilton resident who was willing to have the turtle transplanted to a private lake.

In the interim, human society staffers enjoyed the company of their unusual guest, though he was a little hard to handle because of his size, sharp claws and iron jaw.

“Well he weighed … a lot,” said Murphy, who estimate the turtle weighed at least 50 pounds. “He’s already drawn blood on me.”

Murphy added though that the turtles, which are classified as a vulnerable species, are normally docile creatures—they just have sharp teeth and claws.

According to National Geographic, alligator snapping turtles can live to be 50 to 100 years old and can top out at 220 pounds. The turtles spend most of their lives in water, except when females come inland to nest. The turtles can also spend 40 to 50 minutes underwater before surfacing for air, according to NG.