Turtles are cute, slow, and gentle– sometimes. While some kinds of turtles, like stinkpots and painted turtles, are small and are generally easy-going, some of their cousins are less than friendly. If you swim in a lake, you’ll want to keep an eye out for alligator snapping turtles. These incredible reptiles are the largest freshwater turtles in North America, weighing in at over 200 pounds. They’re also, as their name suggests, fierce hunters with strong jaws. They lure fish to them by opening their mouths and wiggling their tongues, which have an attachment that looks like a worm. When a fish hoping for a tasty worm comes close, SNAP!

Even if you wouldn’t want to meet one of these animals while you’re swimming, it’s fun to see them at zoos like the St. Louis Zoo!

Photo by Chuck Dresner