Mata Mata Turtle (Chalus Fimbriatus)
IUCN: Red List: Least Concern
The Mata Mata turtle are large South American freshwater turtles native to the Amazon & Orinoco Basin. Their fascinating appearance is highlighted by its unique physical characteristics such as its triangular flattened head as well as its long & tubular snout.
They are distributed throughout South America where they live in the shallow areas of low current water locales such as rivers, swamps & marshes. They can be found in the Amazon, Orinoco, & Essequibo river systems of northern South America & have occasionally been spotted in Trinidad & Tobago.
They are solitary animals, their flattened & dark physical outlook provides them with excellent camouflage which is used to their advantage. Often appearing as large pieces of leaf litter which blend with the murky waters they inhabit, the Mata Mata turtle spend most of their time at the bottom of rivers as opposed to swimming. They are ambush hunters who lie in wait for unsuspecting prey which they suck in akin to a vacuum with the adaptations made to its mouth.
- The mata mata is carnivorous, feeding exclusively upon aquatic invertebrates and fish. When the stomach content of 20 wild mata mata turtles was examined it consisted exclusively of small fish. The turtles predominantly feed at night in muddy water with limited visibility. However the turtle is well adapted to hunting in these conditions. The mata mata has very fine eyesight with eyes that reflect light, similar to other nocturnal reptiles. In addition, the skin flaps on the neck are also extremely sensitive and help the mata mata detect nearby movement.
- Mata mata turtles use a specific method of seizing their prey. They will move the prey into shallower areas of water, surround the prey, and wave their front legs to prevent them from escaping. Once surrounded, the mata mata turtles will open their mouths and contract their pharynx, causing a rush of water that pushes the prey into their mouth.
- Males display for females by extending their limbs, lunging their heads toward the females with mouths agape, and moving the lateral flaps on their heads. Nesting occurs from October through December in the Upper Amazon. The 12 to 28 brittle, spherical, 35 mm-diameter eggs are deposited in a clutch.
- After mating, the female comes on land and lays eggs in a nest she has excavated in decaying vegetation at the forest edge. Her clutch contains 12 to 28 round, brittle shelled eggs. The nest is not guarded and the incubation period is rather lengthy, about 200 days.
Fish & other small aquatic animals
|Size:||Up to 45cm|
|Weight:||Up to 15kg|
|Lifespan:||40 – 75 years|