Unraveling the Enigmatic Grin: Uncovering the Unique Eating Habits of a Distinctive Turtle Species.d19
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Unraveling the Enigmatic Grin: Uncovering the Unique Eating Habits of a Distinctive Turtle Species.d19

The extremely well-camouflaged mata mata turtle dresses like a piece of bark with spiky ridged scales, and sucks in prey by creating a vacuum. And it appears to be always smiling.

Despite its unconventional appearance, the mata mata always wears a peculiar smile, with its disproportionately large head and elongated, robust neck. This remarkable freshwater turtle is among the largest of its kind, with shells that can grow to nearly 45 centimeters (1.5 feet) in length and weigh approximately 17 kilograms (38 pounds). What sets the mata mata apart in terms of looks are its uniquely adorned features, including a massive head, a neck covered in warts and ridges known as ‘tubercles,’ and a shiny, coin-like disc on each side of its elongated snout. Its broad mouth gives it a perpetual appearance of sporting a grin.

Surprisingly, the mata mata’s peculiar appearance serves as an adaptation to its environment, offering a range of advantages.

Found in the Amazon and Orinoco basins in South America, these turtles are carnivorous and nocturnal, preferring to hunt for small fish and aquatic invertebrates at night. But, despite their big shells, they can also become prey to even bigger carnivores, such as crocodiles.This Odd-Looking Turtle Always Has a Smile on Its Face and Feeds in an Incredible  Way

And that’s where those ridges, lumps and flaps of skin that cover their body come into the picture. Although they might make them look ‘aesthetically challenged’ for humans, those skin formations actually have a number of important functions, one of them being is that you resemble decaying wood and swampy putrefaction in general – stuff that’s both relatively common and inedible in the river basins where the mata mata lives.

The turtle’s skin and shell also provides a surface for algae and weeds to grow on, further disguising it as an uninviting piece of rock or wood. It’s an excellent camouflage that does a great job deterring predators – and luring unsuspecting prey.

Mata mata turtle, Chelus fimbrata, care sheet - Help Guides

As the flaps are well-innervated, they pick up vibrations while waving about in the water. They function much like cats’ whiskers: they inform the turtle about the flow and movement of the water, something which is useful both for hunting and avoiding big splashy dangers like crocodiles entering the water.

The mata mata employs a peculiar hunting strategy, involving a distinctive technique for corralling its prey. Observations have shown that it will chase its quarry into a confined corner of an aquarium, effectively trapping them.

Once the prey is within striking distance, the mata mata extends its head and opens its exceptionally wide mouth. It then generates a low-pressure vacuum, employing suction feeding to draw the prey into its mouth. After snapping its mouth shut, the turtle slowly expels the water, consuming the captured fish whole, as its mouth structure doesn’t allow for chewing.

Here’s a fascinating aspect of their behavior:

As demonstrated by their herding tactics, it’s likely that the mata mata possesses a considerable level of intelligence. In captivity, these turtles have been observed utilizing the flow from water pumps to immobilize their prey within their aquarium. This suggests that these creatures can adeptly solve problems, implying that there’s more cognitive activity occurring within their flat, lumpy heads than meets the eye.

Mata mata turtles aren’t currently listed as endangered, but their unique qualities make them a common target of pet hunters, and they often end up in aquariums. But since they are relatively difficult to keep as pets, and don’t like the stress of being handled, they’re often kept poorly and struggle with health issues when held in captivity.

Бахромчатая черепаха (лат. Chelus fimbriatus). Энциклопедия. Материал для  реферата

So let’s just leave them alone in their natural environment!

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