Owning a turtle can be a fantastic experience for anyone looking to have a constant companion. However, what many people don’t understand until doing research is that turtles require more care than being put in a tank with occasional feedings. That being said, it is important for any potential owner to do research on the kind of turtle they wish to own.
Though there are many diﬀerent breeds of turtles to choose from, one of the most common types of turtles for people to bring into their homes is the musk turtle. To decide if a musk turtle is right for you, we have created a fact and care guide!
Overall, musk turtles are a great option for a pet, and are not too hard to care for.
Musk Turtle Care
Below is a summary of the basics to Musk turtle care:
- Temperament: Mostly independent and prefers solitude
- Size: 5 1/2 inches long
- Lifespan: Up to 50 years in captivity
- Tank size: At least 30 gallons
- Diet: Carnivorous
Musk turtles are just like every other species of animal in the world- they have individual personalities. However, there are common traits that each turtle can be expected to display.
Musk turtles generally enjoy being left alone, whether that means they are in the wild or a tank at home. You can handle a musk turtle, but be warned! These little guys can be pretty feisty.
Also, because of their size and instincts, musk turtles tend not to like it when other animals or creatures get too close to them, and if you do you might learn how they got their name! When a musk turtle feels threatened, he will release a stinky, musky scent into the air. This is how it got its name, the musk turtle.
It is best to keep musk turtles in tanks by themselves as males will become aggressive with each other. If you really want two, your best bet would be to house a female and a male together. If you do this, be sure to keep a close eye on their behavior. Sometimes a male will become aggressive with a female when housed together. When this happens they will need to be separated.
Adult musk turtles usually don’t grow more than 5 and a half inches long. This makes it a good turtle for a 40 gallon tank.
If you are considering getting a musk turtle as a pet, it is important to know that you can’t purchase one if its shell is smaller than 4 inches. You also should refrain from taking a baby turtle from the wild as the smaller a turtle is, the higher the risk of it getting injured due to its shell still being soft.
I also recommend getting a substrate for your musk turtle.
If you are looking for a pet that is going to be around for a long time you’re in luck! In the wild, musk turtles are able to survive for around 15 to 20 years. When kept in captivity in a habitat with perfect husbandry, they can live even longer, sometimes up to 50 years!
Setting up the perfect habitat for your new musk turtle is going to be the most diﬃcult part of getting ready to bring one home. When it comes to size, any turtle is going to need at least a 30 gallon-sized tank to be happy. Keep in mind that the more space your turtle has the happier he will be!
You should also know how much water to put in a turtle tank.
Even though a musk turtle is semi-aquatic, meaning they swim and live in the water part of the time, they aren’t very strong swimmers. You will want to make sure that you have plenty of land space for your musk turtle. This will allow them to take a break from swimming when they are tired.
Also, be sure that the water in your tank isn’t too deep. You want to ensure that your musk turtle will be able to swim from the top of the water to the bottom and back up again without having to strain too hard.
When it comes to making sure that your musk turtle’s setup is as perfect as you can make it, you’re going to need more than just a tank filled with water and places to hide.
Musk turtle water requirements
Your turtle is going to need the water in its habitat to be filtered and heated. And even though musk turtles don’t like to bask a ton, he is going to appreciate it if you have a UV light above any basking areas so he can dry oﬀ if he wants.
If you want some ideas for basking spots, you should check out my article on turtle basking platform ideas.
Musk turtles are cold-blooded creatures. This means they can’t regulate their body temperature. Therefore, it is essential to keep an eye on the water temperature with a thermostat. You can also use a thermal temperature gun to keep your turtle’s basking spots at the perfect temperature.
You can learn more in my article on what temperature should a turtle tank be?
Now that you know exactly what you need to create the perfect habitat for your new musk turtle, you’re probably wondering what you’re going to need to feed it. Well, unlike many other turtles, musk turtles are carnivorous. This means they mostly eat animal matter.
The most common food option chosen for turtle owners is pellets from a pet store. I recommend getting sinking turtle food pellets.
While pellets are great, this won’t completely satisfy a musk turtle. The best food options to give your turtle to keep him happy and healthy are going to be a mixture of shrimp, small fish, and bugs. Some common bugs for turtles include crickets and earthworms.
To learn more, you can check out my article on how much to feed a turtle?
Now that you know how to set up a habitat for a musk turtle and what you will need to feed one, you are probably wondering if these amphibians need to see a vet. Simply put, yes, they do! There are some scary things that turtles can face that only a vet is going to be able to diagnose and treat. These illnesses/diseases include shell rot, parasites, infections, and even abscess!
Reptile vets are considered a specialty vet in most places and can be hard to find. Be sure to do your research and find a trust reptile vet that has experience working with musk turtles before you get your new little friend!