Alligator snapper caught in Naha’s Kokuba River

An alligator snapper, a species of turtle native to north America, which has been designated a dangerous animal in Japan by the law because it could hurt people who come to contact with the critter, was caught in the Kokuba River in Naha, June 7.

The Prefectural Natural Environmen-tal Safety Department says the alligator snapper is an endemic species of North America, and suspects that someone brought it to Okinawa as a pet.

The alligator snapper is a turtle with a strong biting beak, and it could broke or cut off a finger with its bite.

The staff at the Prefectural Natural Environmental Safety Department say that they are not sure whether the animal escaped from its owner, or if someone released it into the river deliberately. But they ask the owner to contact them. The captured alligator snapper is about 73cm long overall, has a 34cm long and 28cm wide shell and weighs 8.9kg. Officials at the department say that they are unsure whether it is a male or female.

The alligator snapper is currently in the Prefecture animal shelter waiting for its owner to step forward to claim it. They are also looking for a possible facility where to place it in case no one comes forward to claim ownership.

To own an alligator snapper as a pet requires a special permission from the prefecture, according to Japanese law. There are currently only eight such permits in the country, and all of them with zoos. They add that it makes it hard to identify the owner when an unregistered turtle runs away.