Matamata Turtle: Facts, Characteristics, and Conservation Status

The matamata turtle is a unique species of turtle that is often compared to the new guinea snake necked turtle due to their similar appearance.

Introduction to the Matamata Turtle

The Matamata turtle (Chelus fimbriatus) is a fascinating reptile that is sure to capture the attention of any nature enthusiast. This ancient species of turtle has been around for millions of years and is known for its unique shell and behavior.

What is a Matamata Turtle?

The Matamata turtle is a large aquatic turtle that can reach up to 40 cm in length and can weigh up to 15 kg. It has a large, flattened shell that is covered in ridges and bumps and is typically dark brown to black in color. The head and neck of the Matamata turtle are covered in knobby bumps and ridges, giving it a unique and prehistoric look.

Where do Matamata Turtles Live?

The Matamata turtle is native to South America and can be found in the slow-moving rivers, streams, and lakes of the Amazon and Orinoco basins. They prefer shallow, muddy waters with plenty of vegetation, which they use to hide from predators.

What Makes the Matamata Turtle Unique?

The Matamata turtle is an incredible species that has adapted to its environment in some remarkable ways. Its flattened shell and knobby head and neck are designed to blend in with its muddy surroundings, making it nearly invisible to predators.

It is also an expert hunter, using its long neck and sharp beak to snatch up unsuspecting prey.

The Matamata turtle is truly a remarkable species and is sure to fascinate anyone who has the opportunity to observe it in its natural habitat.

Key Facts Numbers
Scientific Name Chelus fimbriatus
Average Size 40 cm
Average Lifespan 30-50 years
Average Weight 15 kg
Number of Species 14

The matamata turtle is a unique species of freshwater turtle that can be found in South America, unlike the pig nosed turtle which is native to Australia.

Physical Characteristics

What Does a Matamata Turtle Look Like?

The Matamata turtle is an incredible-looking animal with some unique physical features. The carapace, or shell, of the Matamata turtle, is large and flat, resembling a saucer. It is also covered in tubercles, or small bumps, and is lined with ridges that make the turtle look like it is wearing a crown. The carapace is typically brown or black in color, with some yellow or orange coloring on the ridges. The underside of the carapace is usually yellow or orange.

What are the Unique Physical Features of a Matamata Turtle?

The most distinctive feature of the Matamata turtle is its long neck and wide head. The neck is so long that it can be tucked away under the carapace for protection. The head is wide and flattened, with a hooked beak and two large, paddle-like barbels on the chin. The eyes of the Matamata turtle are located on the side of the head and are bright yellow in color.

What is the Average Size of a Matamata Turtle?

Matamata turtles typically reach lengths of between 40 cm when fully grown. They can weigh anywhere from 15 kg. The females are typically larger than the males, but both sexes have similar coloring and physical features.

The matamata turtle is a unique species of freshwater turtle that can be found in South America, unlike the red footed tortoise which is native to Central and South America.

My Private Notes: Experiencing The Majestic Matamata Turtle

It was an incredible experience seeing the majestic Matamata Turtle in its natural environment. It was something I had always wanted to do, so being able to do it was a real treat.

The Matamata Turtle is a large, prehistoric-looking turtle with a pointed head and a long, flexible neck. They are incredibly slow-moving and can often take more than an hour to move a few feet. It’s really fascinating to watch them.

When you’re observing the Matamata Turtle, it’s important not to make any sudden movements or loud noises. They are quite shy and easily startled, so it’s best to move slowly and keep your voice low. You also need to maintain a safe distance from the turtle to avoid disturbing it.

If you’re lucky enough to get a glimpse of the Matamata Turtle, it’s really worth taking some photos. The turtle’s ancient-looking features are really amazing to see up close, so I highly recommend doing this if you can. If you want to take photos, it’s important to use a flash-less camera and a long lens if possible.

Overall, it was an incredible experience, and I’m so glad I had the chance to observe the Matamata Turtle in its natural environment. It was something I will never forget!


What are the Common Behaviors of a Matamata Turtle?

Matamata turtles are incredibly unique animals, and their behavior reflects this. They are much more active during the day than other species of turtles, and they stay close to the water’s surface. They typically spend their days basking in the sun and then diving into the water to feed. They are also known to be quite shy and will retreat if disturbed or startled.

How Does a Matamata Turtle Communicate?

Matamata turtles communicate with a variety of sounds, including chirps, chuckles, and hisses. Males will also puff up their necks and display their long claws when trying to attract a mate.

How Long Do Matamata Turtles Live?

Matamata turtles are incredibly long-lived animals and can live up to 50 years in the wild. In captivity, they can live even longer and can reach up to 100 years of age with proper care and nutrition.


What Do Matamata Turtles Eat?

Matamata turtles are omnivorous, meaning they eat both plants and animals. Their diet consists mainly of small fish, crustaceans, insects, mollusks, and any aquatic invertebrates they can find in their environment. They also feed on algae, rotten wood, and dead plants.

How Do Matamata Turtles Catch Their Prey?

Matamata turtles use a unique hunting technique in order to catch their prey. They will slowly approach their prey from the bottom of the water, using their large head and neck muscles to suck in their prey. They will also use their long, sharp beak to snatch up small fish and invertebrates. This process is known as suction feeding and is quite a sight to behold!


What is the Current Status of the Matamata Turtle Population?

The Matamata turtle is classified as Least Concern on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species. According to the IUCN, the population of the Matamata turtle is decreasing.

What Factors Are Contributing to the Decline of Matamata Turtles?

The decline of the Matamata turtle population is due to a number of factors, including habitat loss, hunting, and the illegal pet trade. Additionally, the Matamata turtle is vulnerable to predation from other species, such as caimans, which have been introduced to its habitat.

What Can We Do to Help Protect the Matamata Turtle?

There are a number of ways that we can help protect the Matamata turtle. We can:

  • Spread awareness about the Matamata turtle and its plight, and encourage others to do the same
  • Support conservation organizations that are working to protect the Matamata turtle and its habitat
  • Donate to organizations that are researching and developing conservation strategies for the Matamata turtle
  • Refrain from buying Matamata turtles as pets
  • Encourage governments to take action to protect the Matamata turtle and its habitat


The Matamata Turtle is a unique and fascinating species. With its unique physical characteristics, behavior, and diet, it is an important part of the aquatic ecosystem. Unfortunately, due to human activities, the population of Matamata Turtles is declining. To help protect this species, we must take action to reduce human impacts on their habitats. By limiting our use of pesticides, reducing our plastic consumption, and supporting conservation efforts, we can help ensure the survival of this species.

We must all do our part to help protect the Matamata Turtle and its habitat. With our collective efforts, we can ensure that this species survives for generations to come.

People Also Ask

What are the common behaviors of a Matamata Turtle?

Matamata Turtles are solitary animals that spend most of their time in the water. They are active primarily during the day and rest at night. They are bottom feeders, using their unique beak-like jaws to suck up prey. They are also adept swimmers and have been reported to travel long distances in search of food.

How long do Matamata Turtles live?

Matamata Turtles can live for up to 50 years in the wild.

What is the current status of the Matamata Turtle population?

The Matamata Turtle is listed as vulnerable on the IUCN Red List due to habitat destruction, pollution, and illegal hunting. The population is decreasing, and there are currently estimated to be less than 10,000 mature individuals in the wild.

What factors are contributing to the decline of Matamata Turtles?

The main threats facing Matamata Turtles are habitat destruction, pollution, and illegal hunting. The loss of their natural habitat due to human activities, such as deforestation and the draining of wetlands, has led to a decrease in the availability of suitable habitats for these turtles. In addition, pollution from agricultural runoff and industrial waste has caused significant declines in water quality, which has further contributed to their decline. Finally, illegal hunting for their meat and shells has also had an impact on their population.

What can we do to help protect the Matamata Turtle?

There are several ways that individuals can help protect the Matamata Turtle. Firstly, support organizations and initiatives that are working to protect the species and its habitat. This could include donating to conservation charities or volunteering with local conservation projects. Secondly, reducing your impact on the environment by reducing your plastic use and properly disposing of waste can help protect the turtle’s habitat. Finally, educating others about the importance of protecting this species is essential to ensure its long-term survival.

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