Species group: Snake Necked Turtles
Other common names: Matamata
Scientific name: Chelus fimbriatus
The Mata Mata is a freshwater turtle which is native to the Amazon and Orinoco basins in South America. They live in slow moving streams, stagnant pools, marshes and swamps and feed on aquatic invertebrates and fish.
Appearance / health:
The appearance of the Mata Mata Turtle's grayish brown shell resembles a piece of bark, and its head resembles fallen leaves. It has a large triangular flattened head with many tubercles and flaps of skin. The Mata Mata catches prey by extending its neck so that the mouth is as wide as possible, and it creates a low-pressure vacuum that sucks the prey into its mouth, known as suction feeding.
Warm, acidic water with a high tannin content should be maintained all year round. Moderate to heavy filtration is recommended.
snorkellike nose, fascinating captive turtle, shell knobby, phenomenally long necks, leaf shaped head
large caging, slightly acidic water, water quality, PH
Mata Mata turtles are simply fascinating...
Almost anyone who has seen a Mata-mata turtle (Chelus fimbriatus), either in person or on television, can agree that it is perhaps the single most unique looking turtle on the planet. Not only is their shell knobby and pointed, but their head shape is impossible to explain and exceptionally designed.
These turtles hail from South America, and prefer water temperatures within the 76F to 80F range. This can be accomplished with a simple turtle heater (be sure to avoid fish heaters, as the glass can burn turtles). The substrate should be a very, very fine sand, as anything else can scratch their sensitive underside. Adding a few aquatic plants for cover will be appreciated and utilized. Add a filter to keep the water clean, as well as circulated (this will prevent stagnation).
Overall Mata matas (translated "I kill, I kill") are hardy reptiles that are not demanding. They spend much of the day motionless, waiting for prey. Speaking of prey, their preferred food is fish, but avoid goldfish as they are overly fatty. Instead, provide red minnows which are available at most pet shops inexpensively as feeders. The most enjoyable part of keeping a Mata mata is observing it eat. When the fish gets too close, the turtle opens its mouth wide, thus inhaling the fish via vacuum. This process takes just a fraction of a second, and is utterly enjoyable. They have even been known to intelligently "herd" fish into a corner.
They do prefer slightly acidic water. This can be easily accomplished by adding a bit of sphagnum moss to the tank (it is naturally acidic).
In all, the Mata mata turtle makes a fascinating captive turtle, and is quite resilient as well. The only downside is their price tag, which is generally in the $200 to $300 range. But, the phrase "you get what you pay for" has never rung more true than with these amazing reptiles.
From backwtrreptiles Oct 19 2011 2:28AM