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Mata Mata Turtle

  • Order: Reptilia
  • Family: Chelonia
  • Genus: Chelus
  • Species: fimbriata
Fun Fact

Mata mata turtles have large, flat and triangular heads.

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About Mata Mata Turtles

Mata mata turtles are large, reaching up to 45 centimeters in lengths and 15 kilograms in weight. They have small eyes located close to their snouts and an elongated, thick neck that is fringed at the sides. Their neck retracts into a horizontal S-curve and is longer than the backbone within their shell.

Mata mata turtles have poor vision but they have excellent tactile and auditory senses. Their complex folds of skin have sensory nerves that help detect motion and their neck is innervated and sensitive to pressure waves, which helps detect approaching fish.

Mata Mata Turtles in the Wild


Shallow areas of muddy and/or slow-moving bodies of waters such as swamps, marshes, and rivers.


Trinidad, Tobago and tropical rivers such as the Amazon, Essequibo, Orinoco and the Oyapoque river systems of northern South America.


They prey on live fish, invertebrates, amphibians, birds, and small mammals.