100-Year-Old Snapping Turtle Goes Missing on Way to Reptile Expo

Dan Hemby told a news station that losing his turtle, named Thanos, was "almost like losing a piece of myself"

<p>Getty Images</p> Snapping turtle

Getty Images

Snapping turtle

A 100-year-old alligator snapping turtle has gone missing in North Carolina after potentially being stolen out of a vehicle, his owner says.

The turtle's owner, Dan Hemby, told ABC affiliate WTVD that he was on the way to take the reptile, whom he named Thanos, to the  Durham Reptile Expo on March 10 when he had a feeling that something was wrong with his bright yellow, 140-180 pound, 38-inch pet.

He was driving on Interstate 40, about 30 minutes away from his destination, after a roughly two-hour drive from Jacksonville, N.C., when he had the feeling.

Related: Giant Snapping Turtle Dubbed 'Chonkosaurus' Spotted in Chicago River

When Hemby reached his destination, he went to get Thanos and realized that "all three straps were popped open and moved to the side and the grates were moved over" in the tank he was being kept in.

Hemby said he last saw Thanos when he stopped at a rest stop just outside of Benson, N.C., and he believes the reptile could possibly have been stolen out of the vehicle by someone.

"He couldn't bite his way out. I don't think he could strong arm his way out, honestly, especially not with the three ratchet straps that were on there," Hemby said. "I think somebody messed with him, I honestly don't know what to think."

Related: Baltimore Shelter Caring for 'Big Guy' Snapping Turtle After Reptile Turns Up in City Gutter

Hemby said that if Thanos fell out of the vehicle, he could potentially be scraped up but probably survived as long as he landed on his feet and not his back. If he survived, he potentially headed toward a nearby river if he could find one.

State wildlife officials confirmed to the local news that if the alligator turtle survived, he'd head for water.

Hemby said he searched the highway for blood and is also searching nearby rivers for his reptile companion.

"It's almost like losing a piece of myself, to be honest with you," he said.

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According to the National Wildlife Federation, alligator turtles don't attack people, but they could potentially bite.

"If you see him, please let us know. Be careful. Do not handle him," Hemby pleaded. "He couldn't go out as far as regular turtles, or regular common snappers. If somebody stole them, please just get him home or just make sure he's safe."

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