By Kevin Jefferies
Commerce – Well it's official. It is an Alligator ..Snapping Turtle. Alligator Snapping Turtles have been found in A&M-Commerce's Gee Lake. An extensive search ensued after University Police reported seeing an actual alligator in the water, but none of the burly reptiles were found. The signs warning of alligators drew crowds for days before they were finally taken down when Wildlife Biologist and trapper Mark McDonald discovered the Alligator Snapping Turtles.
McDonald captured two of the alligator snappers, one weighing 25 pounds, the other 40 pounds. Alligator snappers are the largest freshwater turtles in the world, and have been known to grow as large as 220 pounds in captivity. It's easy to mistake an alligator snapping turtle for its namesake, McDonald pointed out, because of the turtle's large head, its broad, spiny back, and its long, primitive-looking tail.
Alligator Snappers are a protected species, and are rarely seen. But more than one has made Gee Lake their home, and eggs found suggest more may be on the way.