Massive snapping turtle roaming residential neighborhood gets a new home

An alligator snapping turtle was roaming a residential neighborhood in Alexandria, Va. (Courtesy of Fairfax County Police Department)

A massive alligator snapping turtle with a terrifying face was freaking out residents of a D.C. suburb in northern Virginia. But after the police responded, the slow-moving reptile has a new home at a zoo.

"Recently, our Animal Protection Police received a call about a large turtle that was crossing the road repeatedly in a residential area of Alexandria," Fairfax County Police said on Facebook this week. "Much to their surprise, it was a 65 lb alligator snapping turtle!"

Not native to the Midatlantic, alligator snapping turtles are generally found in the wild farther south in rivers and streams that feed into the Gulf of Mexico, according to the Smithsonian.

"Alligator snapping turtles are not native to our area and it's believed this was a captive-bred turtle that was released into the wild," police said.

Officers first brought the turtle, dubbed Lord Fairfax, to the county animal shelter but then handed it over to the state Department of Game and Inland Fisheries. The turtle is still a "youngster" and could eventually grow to weigh more than 200 pounds, according to DGIF. 

"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," DGIF said in a social media post. "Since this turtle was most likely a captive-bred animal, it can never be released into the wild."

The turtle will live instead at The Virginia Zoo in Norfolk. The zoo, which reopens June 25, renamed the animal Yidaro and said he will be on display when a new habitat is ready.

"Alligator snapping turtles are the largest freshwater turtles in the world," the Smithsonian says. "Their heavy heads, strong jaws and hooked beaks give them a prehistoric appearance, and their carapace, or shell, is spiked."

With The Associated Press


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