'Prehistoric' large snapping turtle invades North Bay lake

ByCornell Barnard KGO logo
Friday, May 19, 2023
'Prehistoric' large snapping turtle invades North Bay lake
A large snapping turtle, not native to California, was spotted at Lake Ralphine in Santa Rosa this week.

SANTA ROSA, Calif. (KGO) -- In the North Bay, there's a mystery unfolding about a creature that's been spotted at the bottom of a popular lake. Some believe It could be a species of snapping turtle, a rare find in California. They can also be dangerous if you get too close.

You name it and Lake Ralphine in Santa Rosa has got it, lots of wildlife -- from ducks to small turtles. But there's something else more concerning beneath the water.

"The Loch Ness Monster, maybe," said Chris Mondoli.

Not exactly, but close.

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Carlos Rubio was with his son last weekend when he got video of what appears to be a large turtle, about the size of a spare tire.

"At first I thought it was a boulder moving in the water. I realized it was a pretty big snapping turtle," said Rubio.

"They get really large. They're prehistoric," said Wendy Rozonewski.

We showed the video to Reptile expert Rozonewski. She believed it could be a large snapping turtle or even an alligator snapping turtle.

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They'll eat anything -- I mean anything. If you put your foot in front of it, it will bite you," Rozonewski said.

Whatever it is, it doesn't belong here. Snapping turtles are non-native to California and illegal to possess without permits.

"If there is one, it was probably somebody's pet that they let go," Mandoli said.

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife says it plans to investigate. Officials say there's been just 25-to-30 reported sightings of snapping turtles in California and about one in Sonoma County.

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Recently, the world was introduced to an alligator snapping turtle nicknamed "Chonkosaurus" that was spotted on the Chicago River.

The turtle in the lake is likely smaller, but it's creating a big stir about what lies beneath.

"There are things in there we probably don't know about that are living here," said Cary Port.

After a long search, we had no luck finding the reptile on our visit.

"The search continues," Mandoli said.

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