One KY River Is Home to Huge Endangered Species — So Watch Your Toes
One of my favorite memories about my mom involved a birdbath, Lowe's, and a turtle. And that last part is especially appropriate. Mom loved turtles. It was her "theme". Plus, she had a couple of them as pets.
On Mother's Day about ten years ago, I drove her to Lowe's so she could pick out a new birdbath. On the way there, I saw a little old turtle trying to cross the road. Maybe it wasn't old, but they can live past 100, so I might not have been wrong. Anyway, I tried to HELP this little old turtle cross the road only to see its head extend pretty far out and try to bite me. Yes, it was a snapping turtle. I dropped it immediately and headed back to the car. No good deed goes unpunished, as they say.
Alligator Snapping Turtles -- They're Rare But They Are in Kentucky
I was lucky I wasn't in southwestern Kentucky; it could've been one of these:
Now, TELL me that doesn't look like something out of the billionth Jurassic Park sequel. And the 150-pounder featured in this Smithsonian presentation is a veritable lightweight compared to how big they CAN get. We're talking north of 200 pounds for some of these things. But they don't have to be nearly that big to inflict severe damage. Watch it bite a fake hand in this demonstration which you'll find at the 7:09 mark, but check out those CLAWS first:
Alligator Snapping Turtles Are an Endangered Species
Alligator snapping turtles aren't very common in Kentucky. They're not very common, to begin with, but they have been spotted in six Commonwealth counties (Ballard, Caldwell, Calloway, Carlisle, Livingston, and McCracken), and they do inhabit the Cumberland River.
Alligator snapping turtles are considered endangered, even though the Kentucky Department of Fish & Wildlife Services reports there's little data about the species:
The alligator snapping turtle is thought to be rare and declining throughout its range, but this species is so difficult to sample that very little recent population/abundance data is available. No population information is available for Kentucky.
Alligator Snapping Turtle vs. Common Snapping Turtle
By the way, here's a comparison between a common snapping turtle--like the one I angered--and an alligator snapper. Notice how their mouths are always open, seemingly ready to...well...SNAP. The 2:15 mark is where the comparison begins:
Consequently, my days of helping turtles across the street are over. And I've heard you're not supposed to do that anyway, so those particular good deeds have seen their final days.