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Author/Editor: N. Sivasothi
Raffles Museum of Biodiversity Research, Department of Biological Sciences, National University of Singapore.


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Tue 23 Nov 2004

Chelus fimbriatus shell found in Central Catchment

Category : news

In mid-October 2004, an almost totally decomposed body of a Chelus fimbriatus or Mata mata was found near in MacRitchie, near sluice gates close to the old Japanese shrine. It was in damp, waterlogged ground and the shell was almosty totally devoid of scutes. The relatively clean shell was brought to the Raffles Museum yesterday (22 Nov 2004) and deposited here by a member of the public.

The animal is an alien or exotic species, a native of South America in both the the Orinoco and Amazon River basins, but apparently also reported from Trinidad [World Chelonia Trust.

It is a large shell. 38cm in length, and an internet search a similarly-sized pet animal on a German webpage, and a good photo of the carapace from Turtle Times. Collections Manager Kelvin Lim is here depicted with the specimen for scale. And a photo from local pet shop is provided courtesy of Chan Sow Yan.

The animal might have been have been a pet, released when it had grown too large - a common problem with long-lived reptiles in the pet trade. Not all species survive well in the wild and those that do may be detrimental to native fauna. A study to evaluate such effects is currently being conducted for Trachemys scripta elegans (Red-eared Terrapins) in the Central Catchment by postgraduate Abigayle Ng (supervisors: L. M. Chou & Ruth O'Riordan).

Posted at 5:58AM UTC by N. Sivasothi | permalink | ,