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Matamata Turtles

Discussion in 'Uncategorized Threads' started by thespan, Dec 9, 2007.

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  1. thespan

    thespan TS Member

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    O/T Matamata Turtles

    Fellow Shooters,

    As many of you know, I sign on a matamata man. I often attach a photo of the Amazonian turtle which is named as such.

    Recently, a TSer asked "Peter, what's with the effing turtles?"

    Instead of answering in that post, I thought, perhaps, I would respond in a seperate thread so as to maintain the integrity of the original thread.

    Chelus Fimbriatus, is the sole genus and species of a remarkable and fascinating creature. There are two natural habitats of this turtle; the Amazon River and tributaries, and the Oronoco River, which is more or less a large Amazonian branch.

    Their only predator is the Human. Their diet consists mostly of small fish and other river dwelling vertebrates and invertebrates. How they consume their prey will be mentioned shortly.

    Since the Mata's eat small fish, the natives want to control their population because, as we all know, without small fish, there can be no big fish.

    Thankfully, these animals are now protected by the CITES II Treaty and are being farmed in some of the tropical regions on northern South America and the Caribbean.

    Carniverous turtles with the exception of the Matamata capture their prey in they strong beaks thus crushing them, and use their anterior limbs (talons, ie, fingernails) to tear off the sections not in their mouths. Once they swallow the piece in their beaks, they then swim over to the remaining pieces and consume them.

    There are variations to this theme, such as the means by which the Alligator Snapper, for instance, lures and captures its prey. But nonetheless, the Snapper still crushes its food in its beak.

    The Matamata is uniquely different. Their jaws are notoriously weak for carniverous turtles. They cannot capture prey in their beaks so they have a very unusual means by which to consume them. They extend their long necks and create a vacuum, thus sucking their prey into their gullet, along with the surround detritus, etc., and while their prey is in their mouth, blow out the unwanted water, leaves, etc.

    Once the prey is isolated in their throat, the turtle gulps it back and swollows it whole and live. This is a site to behold, akin to the observation of a Boa Constrictor capturing a rat.

    Perhaps, this is enough information for the readers. However, if anyone is further interested in why I am personally obsessed with these amazing creatures, then please read on in the following post.

    Thanks for the interest, and blessings to all in this wonderful Season of Light and Life!

    Peter Greenspan
     
  2. thespan

    thespan TS Member

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    My personal interest in this animal goes back about almost 50 years to my early youth in Brooklyn, NY.

    There was a "petting zoo" in Coney Island that I would frequent either with my family, or during school trips to the amusement park.

    I couldn't have cared less about the animals available for petting, such as chicks, and lambs, etc., however, at the very entrance to this zoo, there was a bare fish tank, in which was nothing other than this absolutely bizarre turtle which I came to know was called a Matamata Turtle. I never recall seeing it being fed, but I certainly was fascinated by it, and would literally stand and stare at it as long as I was at this petting zoo.

    It was years later that I learned about its fascinating eating style, etc.

    Well, as it is for many of us older fellows, time passed, a life was lived, the pension and profit sharing plan grew with the boatload of kids in the house, and one day, in my late forties, I came to find out that in this Internet-Techno world we live in, I could actually obtain a live Matamata Turtle.

    My first effort failed as a result of poor planning and lack of understanding of the animal husbandry, etc. The first mistake was to introduce my juvenile Mata into a tank with a couple of other domestic turtles. Bad idea!

    Then, I fed my creature goldfish; another no-no. Most commercial feeder goldfish are either diseased with one thing or another, and/or are kept in breeding tanks with a Cobalt solution that enhances the orange in their scales. Well, that chemical is toxic to the Mata.

    After a few months of owning my first Matamata Turtle, alas, the call came while I was out of town at a meeting. My younger son painfully informed my that the Mata had expired.

    As disappointed as I was, I sent his remains to Skulls Unlimited, in Texas, and had the turtle skeletonized and mounted.

    I waited about two years to obtain another one, while in the mean time, learning more and more about its habitat and food requirements, etc.

    Then, during another trip out of town, while killing time, I happened upon a website that is for buying and selling reptiles. A keeper in Florida had two mature young adults Matas, one of each gender, for sale, but only to the right purchaser.

    I stuck up an email conversation with this fellow, which led to telephone conversations. Once he was convinced that I was a serious keeper, and with his additional education, he agreed to sell the two to me for the price of one, which was a huge deal, because there turtles are somewhat expensive.

    Once the deal was made, the turtles arrived by overnight express, and aside from the jet lag :) they were flawless and very hardy.

    That was 8 years ago. The two are just fine. I have aptly named them Regis and Kathy Lee. Will they mate? I hope so, but I need to improve their habitat first so it will be more conducive to breeding.

    I have read that the male needs a harem, so I may obtain a couple of more females to see if I can captive-breed them.

    So there you have it. If I can entertain any questions or comments, then please feel free to respond.

    Best blessings in the Messiah of all, during this special Season of Light!

    Peter Greenspan
     
  3. fritzi93

    fritzi93 TS Member

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    Pete, you're wasting your time trying to educate these rubes. Nevertheless, thanks for that, it was interesting. [wink]
     
  4. Dave P

    Dave P TS Supporters TS Supporters

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    Peter: What motivated you to post this interesting bit of information here?
     
  5. Uncle Sam

    Uncle Sam Member

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    Peter !!!...You Rascal !!...What a cool thread !! I used to hatch out hundreds of turtles every year here in Pa.....from eggs I gathered in the farmers field when they used to come up and lay them in the early summer. They hatched in the fall and I let them go. It was sooo much fun and I would still be doing it except new fish and game laws make it unlawful to disturb the nests....When I was doing it...if I didn't gather them up THAT DAY....they were all robbed THAT NIGHT by the raccoons and skunks and such. As you read this my Barbour's Map turtle is basking under the sunlamp and the Mississippi Maps are cruising around looking for food(will be fed later tonight!!). I often attend the Reptile Shows and go to the big one in Hamburg, Pa. quite frequently. Usually many Mata Mata's there. What a breath of fresh air to see another chelonian lover online !!!.................Uncle Sam, Pa.
     
  6. thespan

    thespan TS Member

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    Thanks for the comments, fellas!

    Fritz, I do understand what you mean.

    Dave, I have been obsessed with these creatures since I was about 4-5 years old. I am way older now! Since I sign on as matamata man, several others have asked about that particular handle, etc.

    Tron, Gamera is a subspecies of the Japanese Pond Turtle, Mauremys japonica, that was exposed to radiation after the Hiroshima bombing. The average sized specimen generally does not breath fire, however, an occasional juvenile will do so for about 6-7 years, until it starts breeding.

    Sam, my hat's off to you for saving hatchling like that. Aside from my passion for the Mata's, I still love all the domestic sliders and adore the Map's as well. I raised a hatchling False Map female from 1.5 cm to about 18 cm over about 5 years. I gave her to someone with little kids, who wanted a decent, fairly tame turtle.

    Again, thanks for your consideration of this thread, gentlemen. Blessings in this Season of our Redemption!

    Peter Greenspan
     
  7. luvnbearhugs1

    luvnbearhugs1 TS Member

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    I understand the obsession for creatures that are not the normal domestic variety.

    When my granddaughter was born (12 years ago now) my daughter and son in law had an iguana. Knowing that the iguana skin had samonella on it and also knowing that a toddler would not be able to resist the iguana, my son in law reluctantly gave him up (the Iguana was 4 feet long and walked on a leash)

    To appease him somewhat about a year later I happened on a pair, male and female, of Bearded Dragons. I thought your pictures of the Mata looked alot like a bearded dragon too until I saw the full animal.

    Years passed and the kids moved around. My granddaughter played with the dragons. They were about a foot long. They were at my house, so we had many feeding frenzies. Dragons will live on greens, but prefer big fat grasshoppers and pinkie mice. We did not feed them mice, but they sure loved the grasshoppers.

    Anyway, needless to say Lizzie and Lizor were not the usual animal that a child has for a play thing, but they were ok. Lizzie passed away a couple years ago. They are still deciding if Lizor is too old for a mate!

    Anyway, happy Turtling!
     
  8. thespan

    thespan TS Member

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    Luvn,

    I have had several iguanas over the years, and when they are well taken care of, they can be a delightful "companion" animal.

    However, I positively love Bearded Dragons! I have only had one, who has entered into BD Eternity, but I have had experience with them and they are just the most lovable reptiles.

    They are great for kids too, since they have no natural tendency to bite. And, as you already know, owners insist that they are personally interactive with humans.

    Thanks for looking. Have a wonderful Season of Light and Blessing in the Messiah!

    Peter Greenspan
     
  9. Hipshot 3

    Hipshot 3 TS Member

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    Peter.....Are you trolling? One Matamata turtle and one buck will get you a cup of coffee most anywhere.
     
  10. thespan

    thespan TS Member

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    Au contraire, Hip!

    One Matamata and about $3.65 will get you a cup of coffee, at least around here.

    Enjoy the Season of Light!

    Peter Greenspan
     
  11. TC

    TC TS Member

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    Must say, I learned something new again. Thank you Peter, a very informative and enjoyable post. Tony
     
  12. thespan

    thespan TS Member

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    Tony,

    Thanks for the kind thoughts.

    Enjoy this wonderful Season!

    Peter Greenspan
     
  13. phirel

    phirel TS Member

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    Peter- You clearly have an interest in turtles, and that is good. Just for your information, you posted the scientific name of your favorite turtle as Chelus Fimbriatus. Actually, the generic name Chelus should be capitalized but the specific name, fimbriatus should begin with a lower case letter. The scientific name of this turtle (Chelus fimbriatus) also must be either underlined or written in italics. I do not know how to do either on this site.

    For some reason I can't explain, I always liked to catch young soft shell turtles from the river and keep them for a week or so as a pet. They have colorful spots and a very nasty personality.

    Pat Ireland
     
  14. 320090T

    320090T Well-Known Member

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    Turtle soup Pat?
     
  15. thespan

    thespan TS Member

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    Pat,

    Indeed, you are correct. Species is not capitalized.

    I too, don't know how to underscore, italicize or change font size and color.

    Anyway, the Softshells are a very interesting turtle. I have kept a few over the years, and yes, they can be nasty, but if you start with them as hatchlings, then they become quite reasonable, will live in peace with other species and, in my instance, would eat comercial food from my hand.

    Thanks again, for the clarification, etc. Enjoy the Light of this Season of our Redemption!

    Peter Greenspan
     
  16. phirel

    phirel TS Member

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    Peter- A serious question. The only turtles I have kept were caught in a river and released a week or so later. When keeping turtles for long periods, is it really necessary to supply them with some uV light? I have read this a few times but question if the uV light can get through the heavy scales to make some vitamin D for the turtle.

    Pat Ireland
     
  17. Shady Creek

    Shady Creek TS Member

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    Thank you. GOOD LUCK
     
  18. code5coupe

    code5coupe Member

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    "Their only predator is the Human."

    I'm sure the average croc would not refrain from a meal of fresh Matamata...
     
  19. thespan

    thespan TS Member

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    Pat,

    Indeed, all reptiles in captivity need uVB light for the prevention of bone disease.

    It is not the shell through which the rays penetrate, but the skin of the animal.

    Turtles also need a source of calcium such as a plaster of paris block that slowly dissolves in their tank. And, of course, a dietary source, as well.

    Mata's only eat live prey for the most part and bait minnows usually fill the bill. They can be diseased or malnourished so some keepers isolate the minnows in a tank with antibiotics and gut load them with fish food to make them better suited for the turtles.

    I do not do this, since I trust my minnow supplier who has very healthy, shiny minnows that are hardy and usually plump.

    Code,

    Nope, crocs do not bother the Mata's believe it or not. An adult Mata, by the way is about 20 + inches across the carapace and are quite formidable.

    Ed,

    I am having the hardest time convincing Alan Greenspan that I am his long-lost cousin, and that he needs to make me his heir. Any suggestions?

    Be well,

    Peter Greenspan
     
  20. Bocephas

    Bocephas Well-Known Member

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    Peter, thanks for the post, very interesting.
    My hat is off to a person that has this kind of love for one of mother natures creatures.I hunt and fish,what I harvest I eat.

    But, beyond this I have a very deep respect for all wildlife.

    Bocephas
     
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