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Caring for your Mata Mata Turtle Pet

Commonly known as the Mata Mata turtle, the Chelus fimbriata is a South American species of snapping turtle. They are commonly found in the Orinoco River and Amazon River basins. One of the strangest types of tortoise, the Mata Mata tortoise looks more or less like a pile of dry, decaying wood and leaves.

It is characterized by a large triangular head, an elongated neck covered in scales, spikes and horns. Three barbels protrude from under its chin, and two sets of filamentous barbels protrude from the upper jaw. Its upper jaw is slightly angular and extends into a long, snorkel-like snout. The mouth of the snorkel is probably used in the same way as a diver’s snorkel. The brown or black shell (top layer) is quadrilateral and can reach 18 inches in an adult. The shell is flat with extensive keels and serrations. Three keels run parallel along the length of its shell, growing from each scute and ending in a bulge-like formation. A wide smiley face, complemented by such an enigmatic build, makes him look quite villainous, almost like the Joker from Batman. The breastplate is loose and smaller than its shell. Chelus fimbriata Hatchlings are brightly colored, identifiable by a brown shell and bright red and black stripes on their body.

How to prepare a home for your Mata Mata turtle

Mata Mata tortoises inhabit slow-moving streams and shallow ponds, swamps, stagnant ponds, and wetlands around the Amazon River and its tributaries in Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, and Brazil. Although Mata Mata is an aquatic species, it tends to avoid deep bodies of water. Shallow water with lots of natural debris and little vegetation is ideal for them. Their physical structure has evolved to offer impressive camouflage in such an environment. These tortoises are experts at lounging around. This is probably why they avoid deeper bodies of water, lest they fall asleep and sink to the bottom. They sit amongst the debris, floating in the water and you will only notice them if they move, and THAT, my friend, rarely happens. These tortoises sit as still as rocks and rarely move. They are extremely wary of movement in the water. Even if they feel their favorite treat around them, they will still rest. They will simply expand their neck and open their mouths sucking up the treat with a bit of water. They swallow the treat, expelling excess water. At such moments, the lazy bastard will surprise you with incredible speed.

Tea Chelus fimbriata they prefer to spend most of the day submerged in shallow water. A 300 gallon water tank, measuring 4`x4`, would be perfect for an adult male Mata Mata tortoise. The depth of the water should not exceed 8 to 10 inches. Although they are not the most active species, you must provide enough space to allow free movement.

They belong to the Tropics; therefore, it is recommended to simulate a similar atmosphere in the aquarium. The ideal temperature for your simulated habitat should be around 80 to 90 degrees Fahrenheit. The temperature in the sunbathing area should be around 100 degrees Fahrenheit. If possible, you should allow your turtles some time in natural sunlight. In case this is not possible, it is advisable to place a UVB light over the sleeping area.

How to feed your turtle Mata Mata

Mata Mata turtles are violent carnivores and prefer to prey on raw meat. Live fish are his delicacy of choice. Mollies, goldfish, minnows, guppies and sunfish also appeal to your taste buds. Unlike many other turtles, the Mata Mata is not a gobbler, it only eats when it is hungry.

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