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Matamata: Chelus fimbratus
Category: South American Water Turtles
Experience Level: Intermediate to Advanced [?]
Care Sheet: Matamata Turtle
Anytime there's a Discovery Channel or Animal Planet program on the worlds most bizarre or unusual animals, you will likely see a segment on Matamatas.
Just looking at Matamatas, results in stares of amazement. This peculiar looking turtle has a stingray shaped head with one of natures widest smiles, and a long nose that it uses like a snorkel to breath air, while still below the surface. Their chins and necks are lined with sponge like skin flaps, that together with shell algae, make them look as much like a plant as an animal. The flaps are actually highly sensitive to the slightest water movements, enabling them to find fish in murkiest of water. Matamatas eat like nothing else on earth. They lunge their extra long necks out and rapidly open their huge jaws. Their prey is sucked into their mouths by the low pressure created. Excess water is expelled and the prey is swallowed. Matamatas love live fish, but will take earth worms as well. Ours have also been taught to eat cut up fish - which makes them much easier to keep.
Matamata's inhabit the slow-moving blackwater streams and muddy lakes of the Amazon and Orinoco river systems of tropical South America. Tanks with good filtration, but diffused water flow are perfect for displaying and observing this most remarkable turtle.
Able to hold their breath for very long periods, and remaining motionless on the bottom, Matamata Turtles are ambush predators, needing relatively small tanks for good sized specimens.
Warm water (80 - 85), sandy bottoms, and low PH (5.0 - 5.5) are the keys to keeping Matamatas healthy in their exhibits.
* Remember, each turtle order comes with a free starter sample of the same Turtle diet your Turtle has been raised on - this will last one small turtle a few weeks - to order larger quantities, see the lower left side of this page. *
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