Animals / Reptiles / Turtles - The Reptiles with Big Shells / Matamata - Freshwater Leafy Clump of Turtle

Matamata - Freshwater Leafy Clump of Turtle



The matamata can be found around the big rivers of northern South America, the Amazon and Orinoco, in swamps, ponds and marshes. This animal is one of the strangest looking turtles ever, looking like a clump of leaves and rocks. To attract its meal it might wave its flat triangular shaped head and flaps on the side of its head. But that is the most it is willing to do in terms of predatory activity. Mostly, it will lay dormant at the bottom of the river and open its mouth to suck up fishes as they swim by. It doesn’t do any chewing but only swallows its food whole.



matamata face close-up


on the land


on the sand


The turtle has a large wide mouth and a thick muscular neck but the turtle’s limbs are very weak and small. They have very small eyes which are located near their thin, tube-shaped snout. The algae that grows on top of the matamata helps with its camouflage, along with the leafy appearance, shape of its shell and coloring. They are known to lay up to 28 eggs when they make a nest. The carapaces of the offspring of the matamata are a light tan color.


matamata baby tan color


leafy clump




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