Footage of a fat snapping turtle in a Chicago waterway has gone viral after the man who filmed the well-fed reptile marveled at its size and nicknamed it “Choncosaurus.”
Joey Santore was kayaking with a friend along the Chicago River last weekend when they spotted a large turtle sitting on a large chain that appeared to be rotting.
He posted a leaping video of the turtle on Twitter, labeling it “Chicago River Snapper aka Choncosaurus.”
“Great to see this beast thriving here in a toxic river, but slowly being cleaned up and restored,” Salvatore wrote on Twitter. “Someone planted a bunch of native trees along the river from here too. I wonder what these things are eating.”
In the video, Santore can be heard exclaiming over the size of the turtle, which was displaying folds of flesh extending well beyond its shell. The video had over 600,000 page views as of Friday morning.
“Look at this guy! We got a picture of this most beautiful scene. Look at the size of this … thing,” he says, using an explanation. “Look at that beast! Hey, how are you? You look good. You’re healthy.”
Chicago River Snapper aka Choncosaurus. It’s great to see this animal thriving here in a toxic river, but slowly being cleaned up and restored. Someone has planted a bunch of native trees in the river from here too. I can only wonder if this thing has been eaten. pic.twitter.com/u6bhlpo4p5
— Joey Santore (@JoeySantore) May 6, 2023
Chris Anker, chief wildlife biologist for the Cook County Forest Preserve, said the turtle photographed by Santore is extremely rare, given its apparent size. He said it was also unusual to see the reptiles jumping on the banks of the river and it was probably emerging from hibernation recently.
“So my guess is that this animal crawled out of the river and tried to gather as much heat as possible in the sunlight,” the anchor told WMAQ-TV.
While it’s hard to determine exactly how big the turtle is from the video alone, Anker called it a “very large individual.” And he points out that snapping turtles are not picky eaters.
“These big turtles will eat anything they can get around their mouths,” he said, adding that anyone encountering a scaly turtle should not disturb or try to catch it.
“Enjoy it. Leave it alone,” said the anchor.
Last year, a The picture has gone viral When a Minnesota mom took a photo of a close encounter with a turtle in her kayak.