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Mata Mata River Turtle

© written by Tasha Guenther

Mata Mata in mud

Photographer, Colleen; used with permission under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

The Mata Mata turtle (Chelus fimbriata) is a part of the Austro-South American Side-Neck turtle family (Chelidae). And like its name suggests, the Mata Mata is one neat looking turtle!

The Mata Mata's carapace (shell) is very rough, quite flat, and large in size. It is shaped like a large oval and can measure up to an impressive 45 cm in length. The Mata Mata can weigh up to 38 pounds!

Mata Mata turtles are usually brown-gray in colour with bursts of orange colour usually under the carapace and along the plastron (underside of turtle). The Mata Mata's head is a unique part of this turtle. Like its shell, its head it rough and flat. Its head is a triangular shape and has a long stick-like nose coming out the front!

Interestingly, Mata Mata turtles have excellent hearing (auditory) and touch (tactile) senses. They have very poor eyesight, however. Their rough, folded skin allows them to better feel where they are going.