Juvenile Common Musk Turtle
Age Group: Juvenile
Common Name: Common Musk Turtle
Scientific Name: Sternotherus odoratus
Description:Common Musk Turtles are one of the smallest species of turtle found in the United States. Our juveniles are sold at approximately 2 inches in diameter. These turtles have a unique barbell-like beard that hangs underneath their chin. They have two yellow or beige stripes that start from their nose and run along their faces. In general, these turtles are dark brown with black or grey spots. They get their name from the foul, musky odor they can emit when frightened. This habit seems to diminish with turtles that are handled.
Origin: Musk turtles cover a large portion of the United States. They can be found from Florida, north to Maine and all the way west to Wisconsin and back down to Texas.
Lifespan: These turtles can live between 15-20 years.
Habitat in captivity: Juvenile Common Musk Turtles can be started in a 20 gallon aquarium. Even though they are great at swimming, they have a preference to shallow water and nocturnal activities. Provide your Musk Turtle with the following necessities;
- UVB Light – Without UVB your turtle can suffer from metabolic bone disease and other crippling illnesses. This is because UVB is necessary for your turtle to properly metabolize calcium. These lights need to be changed every 6 months if you are using a Coil Bulb or every year with a Mercury Vapor Bulb.
- Basking Light and UVA – Without UVA rays, your turtle will become lethargic, anorexic and unhappy. UVA encourages natural behavior in reptiles and other animals. By offering a basking light placed above their dry basking area, you are ensuring that your turtle can properly digest its food and maintain proper basking temperatures in the high 80's.
- Heat – In addition to a basking light, water temperatures should be maintained at the mid to high 70’s. This can be provided by using a submersible water heater.
- Filtration – While you are raising your turtle, good water filtration will make sure that you are removing harmful toxins like ammonia from the habitat. This is necessary for both the wellbeing of your turtle and of the humans who interact with the turtle.
- Habitat Décor – The ideal habitat for this species is shallow water, live plants and a basking platform. Other cage decorations can include substrate, ornaments and Driftwood.
Diet: Common musk turtles are omnivorous. You will notice that your younger juvenile will prefer carnivorous items. As it grows, there will be a switch to a more balanced omnivorous diet. There are commercially available foods available, like those from Zilla or ReptoMin. Along with that they can be fed feeder fish, feeder crickets, earthworms, krill, blood worms, occasional crayfish and ghost shrimp, aquatic plants (such as Water Lilies, Water Hyacinth, Duckweed, Anacharis, Water Lettuce, Water Fern, Pondweed, Water Starwort, Hornwort, Water Milfoil, and Frogbit), vegetables (such as Zucchini, Squash, Collard Greens, Beet Leaves, Endive, Romaine, Red Leaf Lettuce, Kale, Escarole, Mustard Greens and Dandelions) and some fruits (i.e. Banana).
Size at adulthood: This is the one of the smallest North American turtle species. They max out around 5 inches in diameter. Females are generally larger than males.
Community Turtle: This species can be housed communally with some caution. Watch for signs of aggression and remember to make sure that you add 10 gallons of habitat for every inch of turtle.