Museum of New Mexico Media Center Press Release

Snaplet the Snapping Turtle Thrives in New Habitat

Museum of Natural History and Science

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 30, 2018

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(Albuquerque, New Mexico) – ​Lost on Rio Grande Boulevard in Albuquerque in the late summer of 2013, Snaplet the snapping turtle is thriving in her newly upgraded habitat inside a large aquarium in the Naturalist Center at the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science.

When found on the road north of the Museum by a volunteer biking to work, Snaplet was a tiny hatchling with a 1.5” shell who may have been trying to find her way to the river. Snaplet’s story is a unique because the Museum does not advocate, endorse or otherwise encourage removal of wildlife, nor does the Museum accept live animals for donation.

She looked like a walking clump of mud,” commented Naomy Riley, a long time Museum volunteer. Snaplet’s tiny sizeand muddy condition prompted an unprecedented exception to two of the Museum’s long-time and ongoing policies which do not advocate, endorse or otherwise condone removal of wildlife, nor does the Museum accept live animals for donation. 

Named Baroness Snaplet de Chomper (a.k.a. Snaplet)  by Museum staff,  the tiny snapping turtle’s first home was a 10 gallon aquarium which she rapidly outgrew. She was moved to a 20 gallon tank in 2015, and then relocated to a 50 gallon tank the following year. Snaplet continued to grow at a rapid rate.

Plans to move Snaplet into a 110 gallon aquarium in the summer of 2017 changed when staff from the Southwest Secondary Learning Center donated a 500 gallon salt water aquarium. Badly scratched, the large aquarium had to be polished inside and out, and the tank stand had to be cut down in height.

Snaplet’s first home was a 10 gallon aquarium which she rapidly outgrew. She was moved to a 20 gallon tank in 2015, and then relocated to a 50 gallon tank the following year. Snapplet continued to grow at a rapid rate.

Plans to move Snaplet into a 110 gallon aquarium in the summer of 2017 changed when staff from the Southwest Secondary Learning Center donated a 500 gallon salt water aquarium. Badly scratched, the large aquarium had to be polished inside and out, and the tank stand had to be cut down in height.

Exhibit staff moved the used tank into the Naturalist Center in late summer of 2017, and volunteers began the process of cleaning and polishing through the fall and winter months.

In August 2017, while Museum staff were working on cleaning and polishing Snaplet’s new tank, a worried visitor expressed concern that the snapping turtle’s tank was too small. The pace of work increased to address her concerns.

It took until March of this year to move Snaplet into her new home, where Museum staff had built an ecosystem inside the new, refurbished tank. To grow the ecosystem, goldfish, some mosses, and smaller water plants were introduced a month before Snaplet was moved. That was followed by the introduction of a school of larger fish and larger plants in the end of April. “Currently the plants are growing well (and getting shredded by Snaplet) and the fish have been producing lots of offspring."

"Aquatic turtles are very messy, so we are extremely happy with the new filter system which consists of four chambers – one section catches particulates, the second and third have cultures of moss growing in them to trap excess nutrients, and the fourth section is filled with plastic “bio balls” where beneficial bacteria break down ammonia,” said Michael Sanchez, Naturalist Center/School Programs Educator. "The filter system is working like a charm, and the water quality is very good. The filter is definitely doing its job,” said Sanchez.

Snaplet will continue to grow, but now at a slower rate. She is expected to nearly double in size, and she should be around long enough to see the Museum’s Centennial celebration! 

About the New Mexico Museum of Natural History & Science: http://www.nmnaturalhistory.org. Established in 1986, the mission of the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science is to preserve and interpret the distinctive natural and scientific heritage of our state through extraordinary collections, research, exhibits and programs designed to ignite a passion for lifelong learning. The NMMNHS offers exhibits, exhibitions, programs and workshops in Paleontology, Geoscience, Bioscience, Earth Science, Natural Science, Gemology, is the Southwest’s largest repository for dinosaur fossils, and includes a Planetarium and a DynaTheater. A division of the New Mexico Department of Cultural Affairs, the Museum is open seven days a week, from 9 a.m. – 5 p.m., closed Thanksgiving, Christmas, and new year’s day. 1801 Mountain Road NW, northeast of Historic Old Town Plaza, Albuquerque, NM 87104, (505) 841-2800.  Events, news releases and images about activities at the Museum of Natural History and Science and other in divisions of the Department of Cultural Affairs can be accessed at media.newmexicoculture.org.

 

 

 

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