Saturday, January 30, 2016

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

My Cousin: The Mata Mata Turtle

First thought: what the heck is that? I'd say one of the more mysterious and bizarre species.

The Mata Mata Turtle is a fresh water turtle found in South America, primarily in the Amazon and Orinoco basins. These are large, sedentary, brown or black turtles that sport a large triangular flattened head characterized with many tubercles and flaps of skin and a "horn" on its long and tubular snout. There are three barbels on the chin and four additional barbels at the upper jaw, which is neither hooked nor notched. These features may be meant to allow the turtle to resemble a piece of bark, with the head resembling fallen leaves, camouflaging it from possible predators.

LOOK at this creature!!!
This sneaky guy blends into surrounding vegetation until its prey comes close. The mata mata thrusts out its head and opens its large mouth as wide as possible, creating a low-pressure vacuum that sucks the prey into its mouth, known as suction feeding. The mata mata snaps its mouth shut, the water is slowly expelled, and the fish is swallowed whole; the mata mata cannot chew due to the way its mouth is constructed. The mata mata is carnivorous, feeding exclusively upon aquatic invertebrates and fish.

This species grow quite large, is slow-moving and prefers shallow water. They have wide mouths that occupy the entire front of the face, often appear smiling, and extraordinarily long necks. Since they can grow to 18 inches long, their size doubles when the neck is extended.

As with all aquatic turtles, water quality is one of the keys to keeping this species successfully in captivity.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016