Wildlife Official Encourages Man to Eat Rare Turtle

Farmer found North American turtle in Chinese field
Wikimedia/Norbert Nagel

A local wildlife official told the farmer the turtle was probably delicious.

A man who encountered a huge, rare turtle in his field did the right thing and called a local wildlife rescue to learn what he should do with it, but the officials just told him to go ahead and eat the thing.

According to Shanghaiist, an elderly farmer from Henan province in China encountered the turtle while plowing his field earlier this month. The turtle was a sizable specimen that weighed over 13 pounds and was identified as an alligator snapping turtle, which is the largest freshwater turtle in the world. The weirdest thing about the turtle discovery is that the alligator snapping turtle is native to North America, not China, and typically only nesting females venture onto open land.

The farmer called the local forestry wildlife rescue and asked what he should do with it, and director Dong Zhaowei said alligator snapping turtle meat is extremely tasty, and the farmer should probably just kill and eat it.

Some Internet users in China were very upset when the news got out, but Dong explained that the turtle is not native to China and could be harmful for local species.

The alligator snapping turtle is listed as a threatened species, but not an endangered one.

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A local forestry service estimated that the turtle found in the farmer's field was 500 years old, but that seems unlikely. While alligator snapping turtles are believed to be capable of living to 200 years, they typically live between 20 and 70 years. A member of local NGO the Science Squirrels Club said it was more likely just around five years old. Alligator snapping turtles reach maturity at 12 years old and can grow up to 180 pounds. Since this one was only about 13 pounds, the turtle is probably closer to 5 years old than 500.