The eastern musk turtle is a small aquatic turtle found mostly in the eastern United States and Canada. They prefer slow moving bodies of water like swamps or rivers that have muddy bottoms where they use their snout to dig for food.
Because eastern musk turtle habitats are being threatened by human expansion there is a possibility you could encounter one during your day-to-day life if you live near a body of water.
Due to their strong swimming abilities, they spend most of their time underwater.
Eastern Musk Turtle physical description
The eastern musk turtle has a flattened dark brown shell with yellow markings on it. Their head and legs are gray to black colored while they have an orange stripe along each side of them from their eyes down to their tails.
The eastern musk turtle’s upper jaw is hooked which helps when catching food in the wild!
How to care for an Eastern Musk Turtle?
Eastern musk turtles are great pets. Their small size allows them to live in a smaller tanks compared to other species, and they are fairly easy to care for. They need an enclosure that is around 40 gallons (though larger may be needed if you keep several eastern musk turtle together).
The tank needs about 40% humidity. Use sand or gravel as the substrate rather than rocks which can injure their soft shells.
Eastern musk turtle tend spend most of their time on the bottom half of the aquarium so make sure there’s plenty of room down there.
Eastern musk turtles do require UV-B lighting. It is important that you make a designated basking area for your eastern musk turtle. The center of the basking spot should be around 90 degrees fahrenheight.
For eastern musk turtles, I suggest a water temperature of around 80 degrees fahrenheight and an air temperature of around 85 degrees fahrenheight.
While eastern musk turtles typically live in murky waters while in the wild, you should definitely get a strong filter for your turtle tank.
What do Eastern Musk Turtles eat?
Eastern musk turtles are omnivores, meaning they eat plants and animals. They often will consume insects such as beetles or crickets but also other foods including worms, mollusks (such as snails), crustaceans (like shrimp) and fish!
If you have an eastern musk turtle as a pet, I recommend that you feed him/her vegetables daily, and protein pellets every other day.
How to handle an Eastern Musk Turtle?
Be careful when handling eastern musk turtles if you do not have experience with them because their claws can be sharp although they should never use these to attack a human. If threatened the eastern musk turtle may release a foul smelling liquid from it’s cloaca which is located at its tail end near the bottom shell of the eastern musk turtle .
Although this smell does help protect against predators in nature it can make holding an eastern musk turtle unpleasant for humans due to our sensitive noses! For this reason, eastern musk turtles are sometimes referred to as stinkpots.
In some very rare cases, an eastern musk turtle might try to bite you if they feel threatened.
Eastern Musk Turtle life cycle
Eastern musk turtle life cycle can be divided into three stages, namely the egg stage, the hatchling stage and adult. A female eastern musk turtle will lay their eggs between June to August. The eastern musk turtles have an average clutch size of 12-15 eggs which are incubated for 70 days at a temperature of 25 degrees Celsius.
Eastern musk turtle nests have an unusual appearance – it’s just a pile of mud with no real markings or pattern on the surface.
Eastern musk turtles on average live for about 60 years, but eastern musk turtles have been documented to live up to 100 years. If you take good care of him/her, your pet eastern musk turtle will likely live for at least 30 to 40 years in captivity.
How big is the Eastern Musk Turtle?
Size: Eastern musk turtles can grow a shell length usually between 3-5 inches by the time they are an adult. This makes them one of the smallest turtle species. Females typically outgrow males slightly.
Weight: Eastern musk turtles usually don’t weight more than 1/2 pound once they reach adulthood. A female eastern musk turtle will obviously weigh a little more when they are pregnant and are carrying eggs.
Is the Eastern Musk turtle an endangered species?
In Ontario, Canada, eastern musk turtles are protected under the Endangered Species Act. This means it is illegal to harm them in any way or take their eggs.