Vulture turtle in size ranks first among land turtles. The average weight of an adult individual is from 60 to 90 kg. Occasionally there are turtles and more than 110 kg in weight. Carapax is wide-oval, with three sawtooth crests located along. The shell color is dark brown, in adult turtles the shell is covered with algae. The plastron has a yellow tint, a relatively small size - it does not completely cover the body of the turtle from below.
The upper part of the head of the griffin turtle is covered with shields. Compared with the snapping turtle, then the griffon's eye is much farther to the lateral sides of the head. The head is massive, the upper jaw is curved downwards. Thick neck and chin covered with skin growths and warts. The tongue is red, worm-shaped. The tail is long and strong, also covered with three rows of growths - on top of more pronounced, on the bottom of a smaller size. The fingers are equipped with membranes.
Habitat for the Horned Tortoise
In the wild, barred turtles are common in the southeastern United States: in Iowa, Kansas, Illinois, along the Mississippi River, and to the Gulf of Mexico, occupying southeast Georgia, northern Florida and east Texas. Inhabits ponds with oozy bottom and stormy vegetation: in lakes, rivers, swamps and canals. Prefers aquatic lifestyle, spending time at a depth, on the surface of the land is selected only in order to lay eggs. Sedentary, in nature they are rarely seen.
Vulture turtles feed on crustaceans and mollusks, worms, attack snakes and smaller turtles, mammals and birds. Do not disdain vegetable food.
Still, the main part of the diet of the griffon turtle is fish. If the turtle caught a large fish, then it will tear it to pieces before you eat it.
The headless tortoise hunts in an interesting way using Peckham's mimicry. This type of mimicry is not so rare in the animal kingdom. Its essence boils down to the fact that the hunter lures prey, imitating its favorite food. The headless tortoise uses its worm-like tongue as a bait, more precisely, its appendix at the tip. It lies on the bottom, most often in the thickets of algae, opens its mouth and begins to move the tip of the tongue. In this case, the turtle lies motionless so as not to frighten off the prey. When a fish or other victim, attracted by the movements of the tongue, swims close to it, the tortoise instantly slams its mouth. Such a wormlike bait attracts not only fish, but also amphibians and invertebrates. Sometimes the griffon turtle can catch a snake, or a smaller turtle.
In nature, the breeding season at the griffon turtles begins in late April and lasts until mid-June. The female digs a pit in the form of a jug, up to half a meter deep, and makes a clutch consisting of 15-50 pinkish eggs. Having laid eggs, the female goes into the water and no longer takes care of the offspring. After 100 days turtles hatch from eggs. Sexual maturity in the neck turtles occurs at 13 years.
Terrarium for the griffin turtle
If you want to have such an unusual pet, you will need a spacious aquaterrarium, the main part of which will be occupied by water. Glass should be durable, walls reinforced. You need a good filter and frequent replacement of water, as the turtles are large, voracious and have a lot of feces. Water level should not be high. An ultraviolet lamp is not a necessity, but, if possible, it is better to install it. Water heating is not necessary, the room temperature is enough for a griffish tortoise.
More about the griffin turtle
It should be remembered that the griffon tortoise is characterized by increased aggressiveness, can attack its owner, and even bite off a finger with powerful jaws. The force of the bite of the griffon tortoise is 2 times higher than that of the dogs of fighting breeds. In addition, the griffon turtles are distinguished by another unpleasant feature: in case of danger, they eject a fetid liquid from the anal glands.
The name of the turtle comes from the name of the bird vulture - with it the turtle is similar in shape to the beak. In their homeland, in the United States, barred turtles are on the verge of extinction, as they were actively caught and used to prepare a delicacy - turtle soup. The total life expectancy is about 80 years, 10 years less in captivity.
Its size is really amazing. It can grow up to one and a half meter in length. Its weight can reach eighty kilograms. There are turtles, whose weight reaches one hundred and ten kilograms. The origin of the name came from her beak, which is on her upper lip. Many compare it with the beak of the neck. That is how the name “griffon turtle” appeared. Also, the feature that distinguishes this type of Cayman family from others is a small process in the language. It is in constant motion and in its form is similar to a worm.
It has a wide oval frame, along which are placed three ridges similar to saws. The shell color is dark brown, and these older freshwater ones are covered with algae. Its soft cover, which is below, is not protected by anything.
The turtle is the owner of a large head, which is covered with shields. On the sides of the head are two bulging eyes. The difference of this species from cayman is the eyes. In the first they are arranged far along the head. Also her neck, which is rather thick, is covered with warts, as well as her chin. It looks like a worm in her tongue, which has a reddish color. It has a large enough, as for a turtle, and a strong tail, which is covered with different types of increasing coverage. Above, they are more coarse, and the bottom is the same, but smaller in size. There are toes with membranes on the legs that help her to move in the water.
The largest number of these freshwater animals live in the United States, namely in the south-eastern part of it. For example, in Kansas, Iowa, starting with the Mississippi River and ending with the Gulf of Mexico. It prefers to live in reservoirs, in which the bottom is covered with various plants. These include: swamps, lakes and rivers. Most of their lives prefer to live at the bottom of the reservoir. On land, it crawls out only with the aim to lay eggs. Thus, they are not frequent guests in other places than water.
Almost all the time the turtle lives in the water space. Because of this, algae are growing on its hardest surface, which helps them to disguise in the water. Her peculiarity is also that she has keen eyesight, which allows her to have an excellent view under water. Her lungs are strong enough because one inhalation allows her to be under water for about fifty minutes. She is quite an active animal. It can also be called a predator in some way, as it hunts the little inhabitants of its reservoir. If she lives in the wild all the time, she can live to be sixty years old.
The largest part of the diet of freshwater animals is fish. Hunting for which is quite curious way. She pulls out a place in her mule with her mouth open, being in anticipation of her prey. An assistant in this matter is her tongue, or rather a small process on it with the shape of a worm. And, as you know, the fish loves worms, and she pecks at the bait, thus becoming a prey for a turtle. If the tortoise caught a big fish, then it tears it apart and eats it.
Also, she will not give up a variety of worms and shellfish. May attack the snake and remain the winner in this fight. Other turtles that are smaller than its size can become its prey. There were cases that she hunted birds and mammals. Also, in her diet there is vegetable food.
Features of sex life in the tortoise
At the age of thirteen, they begin puberty. The length of time during which sexual activity in turtles begins begins around March. During May and June, the female lays eggs. She pulls out a hole, the shape of which resembles a jug, and then lays her eggs there. The number of eggs can be different, from fifteen to fifty pieces. Eggs have a rather bright pinkish color. After this procedure, she returns to the reservoir, and her care for the offspring is over. After a hundred days, small griffon turtles hatch from the eggs. From the first days of life, they are quite developed and can move around and get their own food.
Detractors of the Horned Tortoise
In the external environment, this freshwater has no clearly defined enemies. Nobody hunts her because she is not in the teeth because of her shell. The only real foe turtles is man. By law, it is forbidden to hunt these animals, but still there are malicious intruders who kill these freshwater. They do this for the purpose of producing meat, which is very valuable in the restaurant business. From him cook the well-known turtle soup. Also valuable is a powerful shell.
In order to preserve this species of the Cayman family, they are bred in zoos, which is a safe place for them to exist. An example of such a safe place is the Chicago Zoo, where they live, one of them weighs about one hundred and seven kilograms.