Musk turtles are small turtles reaching around 5inches as adults. They are found in North America and inhibit streams, rivers and lakes.
Musk Turtle hatchlings are extremely small, around the size of a one pence piece. They are dark when little and develop light brown and yellow colouring as adults.
Musk turtles enjoy an aquatic environment with a land basking site which they can climb on to bask if they choose. They also require UVB which they would receive from the sun in the wild. This helps to keep their bones and shell strong.
Musk turtles enjoy a mixed diet of insects, worms and some fish as well as dry turtle foods.
HOUSING YOUR TURTLE
Musk turtles enjoy an aquatic environment with a platform which allows them to climb out of the water and bask if they choose. There are docks, platforms and cork bark available which can be used along with a dome and heat lamp to provide adequate basking temperatures.
Musk turtles are fairly small as adults reaching around 4.5 inches. At adult size, they should have at least a 20 gallon space each in order to exercise as they require. Male musk turtles should not be housed together as they will fight, females can be kept together with an additional male but they are likely to breed.
Always use dechlorinated water with your turtle. A filter and water heater will also be required. There are additional products such as turtle clean which will aid in keeping clean for your pet.
HANDLING YOUR TURTLE:
Always wash your hands before and after handling your turtle. We recommend using gloves to handle your turtle as they are known to carry salmonella on their body and shells.
As with all turtles, care should be taken when handling your musk turtle. Musk turtles have long necks and are able to reach around to nip, so ensure that you always handle your turtle towards the back end.
Musk turtles do emit a bad smell from their glands in the corner of their shells if they are frightened or stressed, this is why they are also known as the “stinkpot” turtle. If you handle your turtle carefully it should get used to handling over time, but the general recommendation with Musks is to only handle if required for health checking, or to wear gloves when handling.
Genus, Species Sternotherus odoratus
Adult Size 4-5 inches
Habitat Streams, lakes and ponds
Lifespan 40-50 years
Diet Turtle foods, worms, insects, fish, bloodworm Calcium + D3 powder (twice a week)
Water Temp (f) 72-80
Basking Temp (f) 88-92
Locality America Difficulty 3
Breeding Age 4-5 years
Social Structure Live alone or with opposite sex, groups of females
SEXING YOUR TURTLE:
Differences between male and female Musk turtles is a little like sexing tortoises. They can generally be sexed by looking at their tail. Males will have a longer and thicker tail with a spike at the tip. Males also have larger heads than females.
It can be more difficult to sex whilst they are small, as they grow, males will have larger spaces between their scutes- the patterns on their shells.
You can also look between your turtles legs, males will have rougher scales on their inside back legs , these are used to hold on to the female during mating.
Eyes– Eyes should be clear and open wide. Look out for any swollen eye lids or swelling around the eye as this can signify an eye infection which are common in turtles. Turtle eyes is a great product to treat the eyes with and requires a couple of drops daily to clear the infection. You can also use saline and a cotton pad to gently swab the eyes daily. Separate turtles which show signs of infection to avoid spreading.
Shell– The shell should be smooth with no chips or signs of pyramiding. Scutes which raise and point at the top are referred to as pyramiding in tortoises and turtles are a sign of MBD (metabolic bone disease) which means that the animal has not received enough UVB and calcium + D3. it is important to change your UVB bulb every 6-8 months and dust food with calcium +D3 powder twice a week. The UVB and D3 work in hand to keep your turtles shell and bones strong.
RI– Respiratory infection is a broad term which covers chest and lung issues in reptiles. Turtles can get RI if they do not have warm enough water or an adequate basking spot to allow them to reach the correct temperatures. Use a thermometer to regularly check the water and hot spot to ensure your pet is receiving the correct heat.