Doubs. A 20 kg exotic turtle found in a stream and entrusted to the Athénas center

Invasive, sharp beak, serrated scales… Like a small dinosaur on legs. It is an unusual discovery that the municipal agents made in Pouilley-les-Vignes on August 22. While they were clearing in the afternoon a sign that had fallen into the village stream, “a big beast of at least 50 cm with a big tail” had stuck to it.

“She was heavy, aggressive and struggling”

Something to surprise Clément: “It was incredible seeing her. But she ran away quickly, I couldn’t catch up with her. I was sure it was an exotic turtle, but my colleague thought I was crazy, he didn’t believe me”.

The next day, at dawn, the two agents set off on his trail. Barely awake, the animal is nevertheless very agitated. An obstacle course to catch it. “She was heavy, aggressive and struggling. I had on thick leather gloves so she wouldn’t attack me. »

Because it is a snapping turtle. This aquatic species shows little and spends most of its time in fresh water. But becomes fierce when disturbed, and can inflict serious injury with its horny, razor-sharp beak.

60cm long

“Donatello”, as Clément baptized him, was sent to the Athénas center (Jura), responsible for safeguarding wildlife. The 20 kg animal would be in his twenties and would be doing wonderfully. “The traces of moulting on the scales make it possible to determine its age”, indicates Gilles Moyne, director of the Athénas center. She is 60 cm long, with a tail of 30 cm. A very imposing beast.

The snapping turtle is primarily carnivorous. This fearsome predator attacks local fauna by feeding on invertebrates, amphibian insects or fish. “Donatello” would have left the pond just behind, dry, for a wet area. And she probably followed her prey, like a frog, towards the stream.

“Someone may have wanted to get rid of it”

But how did she end up in the middle of nature? “Someone may have wanted to get rid of it because it was getting too big and cumbersome, or because it was kept in poor conditions. It was certainly reproduced in Europe or imported from the North American continent,” explains the specialist.

Originally from the United States and Canada, it was marketed in France more than 20 years ago. Some specimens would have been released into the wild. Those responsible risk a heavy fine.

And to hold this exotic turtle, you need a certificate of capacity. An approval issued by the authorities to authorized persons.

Now sheltered, the difficulty for the Athénas center is to find an authorized establishment for the final captivity of the beast. She will not be released into the wild, nor repatriated to America. “We have no indication of its precise origin and it would cost too much to send back a single specimen,” notes Gilles Moyne.

At a breeder or in an animal park, all that is missing is a new family for “Donatello”, or “snapping turtle number 3058”.

Leave a Comment