Mata Mata Turtle

(Chelus fimbriata)

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IUCN Conservation Status
Least Concern (LC)


Slow-moving freshwater, backwater streams, rivers, and swamps throughout South America.


Size: Up to 1.5 feet

Weight: Up to 38 lbs.

Lifespan: 15-30 years


Fish, aquatic invertebrates

The matamata turtle is a large, sedentary freshwater species found in South America, primarily in the Amazon and Orinoco basins. The matamata, whose shell resembles a piece of bark and whose head looks like fallen leaves, is excellent at camouflage and can blend into surrounding vegetation in

aquatic environments to catch fish swimming by. Considered omnivorous, the matamata is a “suction feeder,” thrusting out its head and opening its large mouth as wide as possible, creating a low-pressure vacuum that sucks prey into its mouth. While the matamata is strictly an aquatic species, it prefers standing in shallow water where its snout can reach the surface to breathe.

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Turtles Reptiles

June 1 - 30

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