Mata Mata Turtle

Theme area:  Amazonía
Scientific name:  Chelus fimbriatus
Class:  Reptiles
Continent:  South America
Habitat:  Tropical forest
Diet:  Carnivorous
Weight:  8 - 13 kg
Size:  45 cm
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Found anywhere from the Amazon and Orinoco river systems in Venezuela and Colombia, south to the Tocatina, Araguala and Xingu rivers in Brazil and Bolivia, west to Ecuador and Peru, and east to the eastern basin of the Amazon River.

It has the appearance of a pile of leaves and stones, a feature all the more remarkable because it tends to spend long periods of time without moving. This quality makes it a good ambush hunter as prey approaches without detecting its presence, at which point it stretches out its long neck, opens its large mouth and sucks them in with no chance of escape.

It spends most of its time underwater, lying still on muddy riverbeds and rarely swims. It is a solitary species that interacts with members of its own species only for mating.

The Mata Mata Turtle digs its nest in decaying vegetation at the edge of the forest. Clutches can contain 12 to 28 eggs and have an incubation period of around 200 days.

Threats include habitat destruction, hunting and the illegal pet trade.

Conservation Status
Extinct in the wild
Critically endangered
Near threatened
Least concern
Insufficient data
Not evaluated


The Mata Mata Turtle has poor eyesight, but appears to have excellent tactile and auditory senses.
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