The Mata Mata, Mata-Mata, or matamata (Chelus Fimbriata) are freshwater reptile species discovered in South America, originally in the Amazon and Orinoco basins. The mata mata turtle is one of the numerous bizarre-looking and, some would contend, ugly animals on the planet.
The matamata is a South American turtle with a prominent presence. Its carapace, or shell, is rugged and irregular, and its long throat has skin fringes, bumps, and ridges. The matamata turtle’s large, flat head highlights a wide mouth and a long, snorkel-like snout.
The Mata mata turtles are smooth freshwater turtles. Their rough, rectangular top part of the shell (carapace) is dark brown to mahogany, and the bottom part of the shell (plastron) is yellow and brown colored. On the carapace, there are rows of sharp scutes. The fleshy portions of the adults, the head, throat, tail, and limbs, are greyish brown.
They have a large, flat, triangular head with tubercles, a long snout, and a very wide mouth; a long neck with several lumps and little skin flaps along both sides; tiny eyes, thick tails, and five webbed claws on every forefoot. Males and females change in appearance regarding their plastron and tails males plastron is curved, and the tails are thicker.
Mata mata Turtle Facts
- Types: Turtles, Reptiles
- Common name: Matamata Turtle
- Synonyms and Other Names: caripatua, mata, doctor galap
- Length: up to 18 inches
- Weight: 33 pounds
- Lifespan: 15 yrs
- Group Name: bale, nest, turn, dole, creep
- Lifestyle: Aquatic, Predator, Burrowing
- Seasonal Behavior: Sedentary
- Diet: Carnivore, Piscivores
- Habitat/Range: Tropical rivers in northern South America
- Kingdom: Animalia
- Phylum: Chordata
- Class: Reptilia
- Order: Testudines
- Suborder: Pleurodira
- Family: Chelidae
- Genus: Chelus
- Species: C. fimbriata
Matamata turtles present few sexual dimorphism or alteration in their appearance between males and females. Males have thicker tails than females and concave plastrons. When the turtle’s tail increases, the male’s vent, or anal opening, exceeds the carapace’s posterior edge. The female’s vent is under the edge of the carapace.
The Mata mata turtles are achievable in the extrinsic pet trade and are considerably overpriced. However, because their presence is so different, they produce an attractive display. Furthermore, although they can develop quite large (up to 18″), they do not require much space since they are not very powerful and do not hunt.
The Mata Mata’s shell follows a piece of bark, and its head matches fallen leaves. As it waits stagnant in the water, its skin folds permit it to blend into the enclosing vegetation till a fish arrives close.
The Mata Mata sticks out its head and opens its large mouth as extended as possible, generating a low-pressure vacuum that absorbs the prey into its mouth, called suction feeding. The mata mata closes its mouth shut, the water is slowly dislodged, and the fish is consumed whole; the mata mata cannot chew due to how its mouth is constructed.
The Mata Mata inhabits slow-moving, blackwater streams, stagnant pools, marshes, and bottoms ranging into northern Bolivia, eastern Peru, Ecuador, eastern Colombia, Venezuela, the Guianas, and northern and central Brazil. The Mata Mata is an amphibious species, but it favors a position in shallow water where its snout can lead to the surface to breathe.
Mat Mata turtles are also spotted on the island of Trinidad. They are principally aquatic and favor the soft, muddy bottoms of slow-moving, shallow bodies of water, such as streams, swamps, and marshes. However, they may also restrain the brackish waters of the lower Amazon basin.
A male starts the courting method by increasing its head via a female and opening and shutting its mouth. Next, males represent females by spreading their limbs, lunging their heads toward the females with mouths agape, and transferring the lateral flaps on their heads.
The nesting season happens from October through December month. Females construct their nests in vegetation near the border of a forest. They typically generate 12 to 28 eggs, which have a long incubation period of about 200 days. The 12 to 28 breakable, rounded, 35 mm-diameter eggs are collected in a clutch.
This carnivorous turtle serves essentially on fish and aquatic insects. They might also consume birds and tiny creatures that have occupied the water. They remain largely stagnant and disguised in the muddy waters they dwell in, which permits them to surround their victim. The mata mata has very excellent eyesight with eyes that shine light related to different nocturnal reptiles.
In addition, the skin flaps on the neck are also remarkably delicate and assist the matamata in detecting nearby action. They will leave the victim into shallower water areas, enclose the prey, and wave their front legs to limit them from leaving. Finally, they will open their mouths and get their pharynx, making a rush of water that drives the victim into their mouth.
Matamata turtles are not registered on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List or following CITES. However, they are classified as near endangered on the Colombia Red List. This is because this species was earlier caught for meat.
Today, however, different turtles are estimated to be different acceptable food sources. The matamata’s greatest threat is the gathering for the international pet trade. Hobbyists particularly inquire after this different turtle in Europe and the United States.
The mata mata turtle is an inactive turtle with a huge, triangular, smoothed head. Other distinctive characteristics of the head are included in tubercles, flaps of skin, and even have a “horn” on its snout!
- The mata mata turtle’s shell, or carapace, is normally black or brown and can contain up to 18 inches (45 cm) at maturity.
- The full grown-up weight is 33 pounds (15 kg).
- The mata mata turtle resembles a piece of bark, providing it with adequate camouflaging from predators.
- The neck is longer than the vertebra under its carapace (shell) and is fringed with little skin flaps along both sides.
- A mata mata’s jaw is not hooked or notched.
- Each forefoot has five webbed claws. Males have curved plastrons (breastplate) and more distant, thicker tails than females.