River Assassin (The Mata Mata Turtle)

Hey, wait, hold up. Before we get into this, do me a favor, and follow this blog on the Twitter. I’m trying to increase its reach and you can help me do that, because you’re a good person. Alright, let’s do it.

Check out this crazy dope turtle, bro! That’s what I would say if I was in some sort of interaction with a friend and held in my hand(s) a mata mata turtle, or mata-mata turtle, or even matamata turtle. There’s not a whole lot of concreteness on the naming convention of this thing. In fact, Wikipedia told me that it was renamed like 14 time before finally settling on Chelus fimbriata in 1992. It’s really not that interesting of a turtle. It’s a turtle. It swims, it eats stuff. I don’t see why it needs 14 different names. Maybe 14 different people needed to be right about something. Maybe someone tried to name it the days of the week. Twice.

Mata mata. Or mata-mata. Or matamata. I don’t think it mata’s. BOOM.

According to my private detective that researches this stuff (that’s what I refer to myself as after two cups of coffee), matamata means “I kill,” which is incredibly threatening considering it’s just a turtle we’re talking about, and not really a big one. It’s only about 45 cm (18in) long, so it’s more like a small dog of a turtle. And if you can’t take down a small dog in hand-to-hand combat, then when the world eventually ends and we have to arm wrestle in a civilized manner  for food, you sir, are in trouble.

The cool thing about the mata mata is that it’s got all these like ridges and shit along its body. The ridges on its shell make it resemble a floating piece of bark while the flaps of skin on its neck give off the impression of fallen leaves, making it the perfect assassin. Because of the ridges and shit, algae will actually grow on the turtle, giving a bonus camouflage option of it looking like a rock. And that’s just how the mata-mata hunts: it waits on the bottom of a river or whatever, stays perfectly still, and then BAM shoots its weird looking head out and snags up a fish.

The mata mata hunts using a technique called suction feeding. This involves the turtle opening its mouth real fast and sucking in water, creating a pressure difference, and dragging some poor little fishy into the turtles gaping maw.

Mata mata turtles are pretty cool. They vacuum suck for food, they have great camouflage, and they fetch a pretty penny on the exotic pet market. They get kind of big though, so maybe think it through before you run out and buy one. And definitely don’t blame me if it sucks your finger off. Because I don’t care.

What about you? What the mata mata turtle do for you? Is it workin’ for you? Doin’ its thing in the right way? Let me know.

Think you’re smart? Check out 5 Animals Who Are WAY Too Smart written by a friend of mine. Also, if you’re up for it, follow this blog on Twitter to keep up everything going on. Tootles.

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