Alligator Snapping Turtle (Macrochelys temminckii)
The Alligator snapping turtle is the largest freshwater turtle found in the United States. Characterized by a large heavy head, the Alligator snapping turtle has a long, thick shell with three dorsal ridges of large scales. Natchitoches National Fish Hatchery is working with Tishomingo National Fish Hatchery in Oklahoma by holding Alligator Snapping Turtles over the winter in heated tanks. This process is called head starting. Head starting the turtles allows them to continue growing throughout the winter and shortens the time requried in captivity before the turtles can be released into the wild.