Nature

Alligator Snapping Turtle ‘Harvey’ Blocks Houston Traffic

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Houstonians had to watch out for another Harvey in the early morning hours of September 12, reports local Houston news station ABC13 and the Houston Chronicle. Though surprising, this Harvey did not bring flooding rains but likely came from nearby Buffalo Bayou. Who was this Harvey? Why did he wander onto the roadway?

Harvey the Alligator Snapping Turtle

Harvey the Alligator Snapping Turtle Rescued from an Intersection in Houston

Photo: Facebook/Wildlife Center of Texas

Harvey, so named by ABC13 reporter Courtney Fischer who covered the story, wandered away from Buffalo Bayou around 4 a.m. Houston Police responded to the scene and blocked a pair of traffic lanes near Memorial Drive and Waugh Drive while they awaited SPCA responders. The SPCA took the 89-pound, 70-to-100-year-old alligator snapping turtle to the Wildlife Center of Texas. The rescued turtle passed a physical checkup, only showing some signs of mild dehydration, and volunteers returned Harvey to the bayou later that afternoon.

About Alligator Snapping Turtles

Alligator Snapping Turtle

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Alligator snapping turtles, despite their name, are not the same as smaller, meaner snapping turtles. These turtles grow to between 19 and 176 pounds, on average, and they can live up to 200 years. Texas considers these threatened species. Their numbers have been of such concern that researchers with the Turtle Survival Alliance have been monitoring their numbers along Buffalo Bayou, and tagging the turtles they find. Harvey was among the tagged turtles. Though these turtles keep to the bayous of East Texas, they can appear in other places because illegally kept turtles may escape their owners into the wild. It’s important that you know what to do if you encounter a turtle in the wild.

Wildlife in Your Area

Alligator Snapping Turtles Have Powerful Jaws That Can Cause Serious Harm to Humans

Photo: Flickr/U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

What should you do if you encounter an alligator snapping turtle? The worst thing you can do is to pick it up or try to move it. In addition to the hefty size of these turtles, they have powerful jaws that can cut off fingers if they feel threatened. Call your local game warden, SPCA branch, or in the Houston area – the Wildlife Center of Texas. All these organizations have experts who can safely deal with the turtle and get it back to its natural habitat.

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