Dangerous exotic turtles found in France

An alligator snapping turtle opening its spiked jaw. These exotic reptiles have recently been found along the Canal du Midi near Toulouse, France.
Alligator snapping turtles can weigh up to 100kg when fully grown, and have strong, spiked jaws that can cause serious injury. (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Headquarters/Flickr)

Unusual reptiles found along the Canal du Midi near Toulouse (Haute-Garonne, Occitanie) have been identified as dangerous alligator snapping turtles, with local residents advised to be alert. 

The turtles were first spotted on May 4 along the banks of the canal at Ramonville-Saint-Agne (Haute-Garonne) by a family living on a canal boat. They reported three small turtles each around 3cm long to the police, who contacted the French office for biodiversity to identify them.

The police officer explained: “They had three rows of spikes clearly visible along their upper shells. The specialist quickly identified them as alligator snapping turtles.” 

Alligator snapping turtles can weigh up to 100kg when fully grown, and have strong, spiked jaws that can cause serious injury. They are a carnivorous reptile, commonly found in North America. 

It is thought the turtles found in France were released into the wild by humans. 

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Common snapping turtles also found 

Police in the Haute-Garonne have since confirmed finding another exotic species, the common snapping turtle, roaming near a playground in the Parc de Cinquante, around 9 km from Toulouse. 

The common snapping turtle, which is also carnivorous, can be dangerous to humans too. 

In a Facebook post, local police wrote that the 25cm-long turtle “seemed a little scared, but could become fierce if disturbed and inflict serious injuries".

They also warned locals not to play with any reptiles they find in the area.

The turtle is now being looked after by the Zoo de Mescoules in the Dordogne (Nouvelle-Aquitaine). 

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