PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – A 25-pound snapping turtle with a “head the size of a baseball” was found wandering through a pasture in Harrisburg, Ore. on April 28, the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife said.
Investigators say the large creature, which they believe was more than 30 years old, is an invasive species in Oregon and was introduced to the state through turtle trafficking.
Snapping turtles have powerful jaws and can bite aggressively when they feel pressured. Their sharp beaks can remove chunks of skin, said ODFW assistant district biologist Marianne Brooks.
This particular turtle, with its large size, could have been particularly dangerous. It was 14 inches wide and 20 inches long.
“This turtle had a head the size of a baseball, and a neck he could extend at least 10 inches from his shell,” Brooks said. “You wouldn’t want to run into something like this if you were out fishing. You definitely wouldn’t want your dog to find it.”
ODFW is using this American snapping turtle discovery as a reminder that it’s illegal to purchase, possess, transport or release snapping turtles without a special license in Oregon.
Non-native turtles released in Oregon waterways easily outcompete native turtles, like Oregon’s native northwestern pond turtle and western painted turtle.
“Populations of native northwestern pond turtles and western painted turtles dwindle upon release of non-native species like red-eared sliders and snapping turtles, which compromises native habitats and ecosystems, and compete for basking areas and hideaways,” ODFW wrote in a press release.
In Oregon, people can be criminally cited for releasing invasive species into native wetlands.