“Large” alligator snapping turtle found wandering Virginia community

Written by on June 17, 2020 in Critter MIA - No comments

Animal protection police in Virginia recently scooped up a 65-pound (30 kilogram) alligator snapping turtle found hanging around a residential area in Alexandria.

The call initially came in as a “large turtle,” according to Fairfax County Police.

“Much to their surprise, it was a 65 lb alligator snapping turtle!”

The alligator snapping turtle was probably once somebody’s pet. Photo: Fairfax County Police/Twitter

It was subsequently named “Lord Fairfax” even though such turtle royalty does not normally reign in the region.

“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 added.

While the common”snapping turtle (Chelydra serpentina) is native to Virginia, the alligator snapping turtle (Macrochelys temminckii) is not, according to the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries. Alligator snapping turtles normally live in river drainages that flow in the Gulf of Mexico, east to Georgia and the panhandle of Florida, and westward to east Texas.

“At 65 lbs., this one was a youngster, as this species can reach weights exceeding 200 lbs,” the department added. “Our native snapping turtle only reaches a maximum weight of around 50 lbs.”

Fairfax animal control contacted the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries about the unusual capture. Photo: VDGIF/Facebook

This turtle, found near a resident pond, never really posed a threat to people.

But it wouldn’t have had much success on its own.

“This animal would have most likely experienced a slow death as a result of either freezing or starvation. 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,” the department noted.

And so, the turtle can’t be released to the wild.

Lord Fairfax is headed to his new home at the Virginia Zoo. Photo: VDGIF/Facebook

 “Lord Fairfax (as it was named) was fortunate enough to have found a home at The Virginia Zoo in Norfolk where it will hopefully be part of a new exhibit,” the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries notes. “Since this turtle was most likely a captive-bred animal, it can never be released into the wild.” 

Fare thee well, Lord Fairfax.

From Alexandria to his new home in Norfolk. Photo: Fairfax County Police/Twitter
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Recovering newspaper reporter.

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