Matamatas will sometimes herd fish into more shallow waters where the matamata can easily seize them.The matamata’s snorkel-like nose allows it to lie in shallow water and reach the surface to respire without frightening its prey. These hinges give the turtle the ability to close its shell with the vulnerable parts safely in. This also provides protection against a loss of moisture and dehydration.

A Long Walk

Not all turtles are natural swimmers. Though the juveniles are sometimes seen swimming, the adults will more often walk along the bottom of river.


Lakes and slow-running creeks in the Amazon basin.


The neck and head of the matamata is covered in unusual flaps some which are full of nerve endings. These respond to disturbances in the water, allowing the turtle to sense when prey might be near. Once a fish comes into range, the matamata sucks its prey up.


The matamata is a master of camouflage. The short shell is medium-brown with ridged scutes, and algae often grows there. The shell could easily be mistaken for a rock, especially in muddy waters. The neck and head are long and lighter brown; starting at the chin along the neck, the scales take on a pinkish color.