A Chinese villager who stumbled across a monstrous-looking turtle has been advised by experts to eat the creature instead of releasing it back into the wild.
The animal later identified as a common snapping turtle (Chelydra serpentina) was found by the man surnamed Zhu as he strolled through the village of Jinyun, in Liuyang City in Central China’s Hunan Province.
Neither he nor his neighbours had seen anything quite like the reptile before, the turtle appearing several times larger than any species they had come across before.
It measured 60 centimetres (23.62 inches), weighed 9.5 kilogrammes (20 lbs) and had a thick shell armoured as well as being extremely aggressive.
Zhu is said he fed it loaches, pork and carrots to keep it alive, but he did not know what to do with it - or what exactly it was.
Believing that the turtle may belong to one of China’s state-protected species, the villager called forestry experts for confirmation and was surprised when an official advised him to "eat it".
The wildlife expert said the common snapping turtle, native to the Americas, is considered an invasive species, harmful to the local ecosystem, and that it would be "inappropriate" to release it.
This might come as good news for many turtle meat lovers in China, where the animals are turned into stews, but it is unclear whether Zhu plans to cook his new pet.
Snapping turtles are such a delicacy in China that licenced farms are allowed to breed them in captivity, and it is from one of these farms that the animal is believed to have escaped.
There are 27 turtles and tortoises on China’s extensive list of endangered and protected species, but the common snapping turtle - or any snapping turtle for that matter - is not one of them.