The numbers of alligator snapping turtles, a delicacy in Cajun culture, are declining due to illegal poaching.
While Texas has strict laws in place to protect the turtles, Louisiana does not, resulting in more turtles in Texas and making it a target for poachers.
A years-long investigation led by US Fish and Wildlife agent Jim Stinebaugh uncovered a Louisiana family who regularly crossed the state line to catch and sell the turtles.
The family boasted of yielding hundreds of turtles.
During a raid on Viola Dietz’s property, agents found alligator snappers caught illegally by her and her family living in ponds.
Dietz claimed to care for her turtles but tearfully admitted to poaching them, saying, “I don’t know why I did it. I love my turtles.”
The story delves into the cultural lore surrounding the snappers in Bayou culture and the efforts of Stinebaugh and others to protect them from extinction.
Listing the species under the Endangered Species Act could provide better protection for them.
Snapping Turtle Diet: Carnivorous or Omnivirous Meals?
While snapping turtles may have carnivorous traits, they are actually omnivorous, meaning they consume both plant and animal matter.
In addition to animal protein, snapping turtles also eat plant matter, fruits, pellets, and supplements.
Animal protein typically makes up the majority (70-75%) of their diet, while plants comprise only one-third (25-30%) of their diet.
Snapping turtles prefer low vegetation and waterborne plants.
While greens provide essential minerals and vitamins, they are not enough to meet a snapping turtle’s nutritional needs.
As a result, supplements are necessary for pet turtles to avoid hypovitaminosis. Learn more here, Are Snapping Turtles Carnivores?