Baby leviathan – Common snapping turtle – St. Louis Riverfront Trail

Last evening riding along the St. Louis Riverfront Trail, a rather exotic combination of natural riparian zones and industrial landscapes, I found this little guy in the middle of the trail, right in an industrial area and on the wrong side of the flood wall.

I call him only a baby leviathan, because he seemed to be a juvenile, and as a common snapping turtle he is a true junior compared to the true leviathan of American waterways, the alligator snapping turtle. It was rather hard to tell what sort this was, but thanks to Wikipedia and this helpful page, I believe I have got my chelonian.

Shortly after I happened on the scene a lady with a dog and a gentleman in a truck with more extensive knowledge of turtles also arrived. He said when it gets up on its hind legs it is just about to, well, snap. The lady with the dog wanted the critter back in the water, and so he got his gloves and put him in a sack promising to do so, though I would not really blame him if he might have been rather tempted to taste some of the purportedly “seven different meats of a turtle.”

I have heard that snapping turtles are holdovers from a far distant time in Earth’s history, and getting up close and personal with this one with its almost alien or dinosaur-like scales and bumps I have no difficulty in believing that at all!


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