OTHER COMMON NAMES

French: Matamata; German: Fransenschildkröte.

PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS

A medium to giant turtle (up to 18 in [45 cm] in carapace size), the matamata might be essentially the most distinctive of all turtles. This species is acknowledged by its flattened but rugged shell, and the tough pores and skin with fringelike appendages that offers the pinnacle a triangular look when considered from above. The raised conical knobs on every scute kind three keels on the darkish carapace to improve the cryptic look of this bottom-walking species. Furthermore, the pores and skin on the broad flat head types small flaps which are most pronounced above the tympana and waver gently in a gradual present. The tiny eyes are set ahead and could also be of little use within the turbid waters this species inhabits. The tubelike proboscis is used to breathe with out totally surfacing.

DISTRIBUTION

Northern South America, together with the Amazon and Orinoco Rivers.

HABITAT

This extremely aquatic freshwater species prefers the nonetheless waters of oxbow lakes and ponds. Anecdotal proof means that this species survives prolonged intervals in brackish water, however it isn't identified whether or not it enters these habitats freely or is deposited there by flooding rivers.

BEHAVIOR

These turtles are poor swimmers and spend the vast majority of their time strolling alongside the underside. When present in rivers, matamatas keep away from the present by shifting beneath lower banks and submerged logs.

FEEDING ECOLOGY AND DIET

This carnivorous turtle feeds primarily on small fishes. The matamata lies in wait on the murky backside of its aquatic habitat the place fish could also be attracted to the fringelike pores and skin on its head. After finding the fish through vibrational cues detected by the pores and skin and enlarged tympana, it makes use of a gape-and-suck technique to violently draw the prey and a big quantity of water into the mouth. The water is then expelled and the fish swallowed.

REPRODUCTIVE BIOLOGY

Courtship and mating haven't been described; nonetheless, nesting usually takes place between October and December. In Venezuela, nests are sometimes constructed within the clay soil of steep riverbanks. Eight to 28 spherical (1.4–1.6 in [3.5–4.0 cm] diameter), brittle-shelled eggs are produced yearly. The lengthy incubation (200 or extra days) means that embryos require a diapause or estivation earlier than hatching happens.

CONSERVATION STATUS

Not threatened.

SIGNIFICANCE TO HUMANS

The grotesque look of this species discourages consumption, even in areas the place different turtle species are readily eaten. Matamatas are often out there within the pet commerce the place the adults and juveniles might command excessive costs.


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