American Alligator Snapping Turtle invades
Far East of Russia
With its shell covered in spikes and its sharp beak, the creature looks more dinosaur than turtle.
Found in Russia, a picture of the mysterious creature was posted on social media by Anastasia Steshina with the comment: “When we saw it, we did not even realize that it was a turtle. It reminded us of a dinosaur.”
Now the bizarre creature has been identified as an alligator snapping turtle, the heaviest freshwater turtle in the world.
Far from home in the American south-east, it remains a mystery how it turned up alive on the banks of the Amur river, the world’s 10th longest river.
Initially social media users said the photograph of the animal was a fake until a video also appeared showing how local people were trying to make the turtle swim back into the river.
Speaking at the beginning of the clip, a woman is heard saying: “Releasing the beast into the wild.”
A man then carries the turtle closer to the river and then splashes it with water before trying to push it in with his boots.
Finally the turtle goes to the water and swims away. Anastasia Steshina, who also made the video, said: “It was caught by my fisherman friend. When I got the call I immediately rushed to watch and take pics.
“I have never seen such a thing before and neither have my friends. We talked to the local fishermen and they think it is not the only one here since, they say, such animals do not live alone.
“There are rumours that we harmed the animal. But as can be seen on the video, we did not do anything harmful, just pushed it to the water. It swam away and was not turned into someone’s soup.”
She added: “It wasnít just scary – it was biting through sticks with its jaws and tried to attack us, awkwardly though because it is a water animal.”
Locals believe it probably escaped a Chinese breeder further up the river on the north-eastern Chinese side of the border.