About animals

Musk turtle


The habitat of this subspecies of turtles is the southeastern part of the USA and Canada. Favorite habitat are freshwater bodieswhose bottom is not covered with sand, but silt. The lifestyle is predominantly aquatic, some individuals even manage to grow with algae. The most active turtles behave at night and in the evening. They spend all their time slowly, moving along the bottom of the reservoir they have chosen in search of food.

The average length of the musk turtle’s carp is 13.5 cm; it has an oval shape, and young individuals also boast the presence of three longitudinal ridges. Main the difference between males and women turtle floor - a short plastron, a slightly elongated tail and prickly scales located on the inner surface of the hind legs.

The main source of food for this subspecies of turtles - small fish, mollusks, aquatic insects and vegetation. The musk turtle does not refuse, or, as it is also called, Sternotherus odoratus, and from carrion, this taste preference turns it into a hospital attendant of reservoirs.

Mating occurs exclusively under water., and the masonry is done in shallow pits, which they rarely dig independently, more often using natural indentations in the ground, from April to July. The incubation period is from 2 to 3.5 months at an ambient temperature of 25-29 ° C.

Nutmeg turtle - defends his freedom with all his might, behaves very belligerently during capture, can scratch, bite and will be actively pulled out. Another protective mechanism is the pungent odor emitted from the musk glands located on the side and back under the carapace. In conditions of restriction of freedom, he lives for about 20 years or more.


The habitat of common musk turtles is silted ponds of the eastern and southeastern parts of the United States; you can also find them in southeastern Canada. The animal’s lifestyle is exclusively aquatic, so there are individual specimens overgrown with algae. The muscular turtle spends almost all its waking hours in search of food, slowly moving along the bottom of the reservoir in which it lives, but at the same time it is quite tolerably able to swim. This species of animals rarely leaves water open spaces, mainly only for laying eggs or during rainfall. The time of greatest activity is twilight and night.

From time to time musk turtles can be seen on the surface when they expose their carapace to the warm sunlight and warm up, sometimes they even climb onto branches that lean towards the water, and in the case of the slightest danger they quickly tip over into a safe reservoir.

This species of turtles spends colder time of the year at the bottom of a reservoir, burrowing deep into mud. If for some reason the pond dries up, then the turtles go in search of a new haven, at such moments you can even find them in the snow.
External description

The sharp, persistent and unpleasant musky smell, released by turtles at the time of danger from the glands located under the shell, gave the name to this subspecies. The local population in everyday life calls them simply “stinkers” or “Stinky-Jim”.

Despite the ability to swim well, he spends most of his time slowly moving along the bottom of the reservoir in search of food.

Carapax in this subspecies of turtles has an oblong oval shape, with an average length of about 8-10 cm, is extremely rare, in large individuals it can reach a maximum of 14 cm. Young representatives of musk turtles also have 3 longitudinal ridges. The plastron, which is movably connected to the main part in the anterior lobe, also has an oval shape, small size, and also an inconspicuous bunch and 11 guards. But, despite the movable connection, the range of movements in this part of musk turtles is extremely limited, therefore, unlike their closest brethren, they are unable to close the front hole.

The color of the head and neck of musk turtles is not bright, dirty brown with a light pattern in the form of stripes.

A shortened plastron, a blunt comb, an elongated tail and the absence of prickly scales on the inside of the hind legs distinguish males from females. By the way, the scales, which were previously called the “organ of tweets,” help the male to keep the partner in place during mating. A similar name, still often found in popular literature, flakes have earned due to the sound they make when they rub against each other with bent limbs. The sound produced in this case is very reminiscent of bird tweets or cricket roulades. The long and movable neck of an ordinary musk turtle allows it not only to reach its own hind legs, but also playfully bite a gaping host, who ventured to pick her up.

Muscular muscular turtles are distinguished from other types of turtles by small growths similar to warts located on the neck and lower jaw.

The favorite food of ordinary musk turtles - small-sized fish, aquatic insects, mollusks, shrimps, algae, these reptiles do not disdain the variety of carrion, for which they have earned a reputation as orderlies of ponds.

If the musk turtle lives in a home terrarium, then taking into account its taste preferences, there is a high probability of contamination of water with food debris, so it is recommended to use tweezers or special needles adapted for stringing food for feeding. Most likely, the tortoise will not immediately understand the purpose of such devices, but if you wave a tidbit of meat in front of her nose a little, she will get comfortable pretty quickly. Mobile young individuals can begin to hunt small fish, such as guppies, contained with them in the same water area.

How does reproduction occur?

At the age of about a year, an ordinary musk turtle reaches maturity. The mating process takes place in water, after fertilization, the female can maintain fertility for another four years. Clutch, consisting usually of 2-7 eggs, occurs in the spring and summer, from April to July. The eggs are covered with a fragile hard shell, the female places them in a small independently dug hole in the ground or in a natural cavity, there are often cases when they do not bother digging themselves at all, leaving the future offspring simply on the surface.

Eggs ripen in 2-3.5 months, the optimal ambient temperature should be in the range of 25-29 ° C. Hatched turtles grow quite quickly.

This subspecies of turtles has a high breeding rate, so the threat of extinction does not hang over them.

Home Conditions

Due to its unpretentiousness, omnivorousness and tolerance to room temperatures, the muscat turtle is a favorite resident of home terrariums. Although the animal shows a rather warlike character when captured, biting and breaking free, but after some time spent in captivity, it becomes quite peaceful. An additional way to protect this reptile is a yellowish, sharply smelling secret, secreted from the gland under the carapace.

The duration of her life in captivity - more than 20 years.

Specialized publications point to the need for equipment in a shallow water body with a water height of not more than 15 cm, but practice has shown that this is not necessary.

Quite a well-known tortoise-grower Gerhard Muller claims that he kept his musky turtles in water tanks with a water level of about half a meter, and in natural conditions they usually live at a depth of up to 85 cm. Some difficulties with adaptation arose only with individuals obtained from other terrariumists, however , after a short time, they also adapted.

It is quite difficult to recreate the muddy bottom, to which muscular turtles are accustomed to in their natural habitat, so home aquariums use washed river sand, strong knots, stones, decorative roots, as well as green spaces that improve the condition of the water and serve as additional food for reptiles.

Ordinary musk turtles are big dirty, so be prepared either to purchase a sufficiently powerful filter or to change the water every few days. Make sure that all accumulated droppings and dirt go away with the suction water, and the fresh water that is poured in is at the same temperature as the old one.

It is most expedient to use the settled water, from which all chlorine has already managed to escape.

The temperature of the tank is recommended to be kept within 22-30⁰ C, the ambient temperature should fluctuate around the same limits.

Nutmeg Diet try to diversify as much as possible. It should consist of:

  • Dry feed
  • Live feed (snails, tadpoles, frozen shrimp, low-fat veal, earthworms, bloodworms, small fish),
  • Plant foods (lettuce, cabbage, duckweed).

During the laying of eggs inside the aquaterium, it is necessary to separate the artificial shore from the water part, for this an inclined glass plate is installed. In the absence thereof, you can use a home-made sand embankment or ordinary brick. It is necessary to install a cuvette with washed river sand on eggs adapted for egg laying.

Central European breeders often release nutmeg turtles into small outdoor ponds during the summer, so animals spend time in almost their natural habitat.

If you have the opportunity to provide turtles with a large aqua terrarium and exclude the moment of competition during eating, then this species of reptiles can be kept in small groups.

If, under terrarium conditions, muscat turtles are not “wintered”, then males will tend to mate with females all year, alternating periods of activity with periods of rest. However, the peak of "courtship" still falls on warm sunny spring and summer days, if the content takes place outdoors. Ordinary muscat turtles do not have any mating dance, and the mating process occurs from 60 minutes to a day.

Additional Information

One of the most unusual and interesting features of ordinary muscular turtles is the ability to stay under water for up to several months, breathing with the tongue. Nature rewarded some animals with special sinuses for the absorption of oxygen from water, some learned to breathe in the skin.

Research aimed at finding an organ that helps Muscat turtles in underwater breathing took place a long time ago, and now, finally, it will be found. It turned out that these reptiles gained this ability through language. In this case, oxygen is absorbed directly from the water thanks to the tubercles located on it. Research observations have shown that, having obtained food on land, young individuals always pull it under water, because otherwise they simply cannot eat it. It's all about the weakness and small length of their tongue, not adapted for swallowing and pushing food. Further studies proved that functionally this organ performs functions different from other animals.


The habitat is located in the eastern regions of the North American continent. The northern boundary of the range passes through the southern provinces of Canada, and the western through the US states of Wisconsin and Texas. In the south, the range extends to Florida along the entire Atlantic coast.

Musk turtles inhabit various types of freshwater bodies. They live in ponds, lakes, rivers and canals with a slow flow. Sandy bottom areas are preferred. Reptiles are found mainly in shallow water and avoid mixed waters.

The isolated population in Mexico is considered extinct in the mid-twentieth century.

Representatives of this species lead an aquatic lifestyle. On land, they are chosen to lay eggs or sunbathe. Usually bask in the sun, climbing trees and driftwood fallen into the water.

With the exception of the southern regions, reptiles fall into hibernation, burrowing deep into the silt. Depending on the geographical latitude, it lasts from October to the end of March.

In vivo, the reptile is active in the evening twilight and at night. The diet is based on aquatic insects, amphibians, snails, worms, small fish and carrion. A small amount of food is eaten of plant origin.

Musk turtles are not too fast, so they often bite their pursuers. Most predators lose all interest in them, smelling their fetid odor.


Puberty occurs in 2-4 years when reaching a shell length of 65 mm in males and 83 mm in females. In southern populations, animals become sexually mature when they grow to 73 and 96 mm, respectively.

Soon after exiting hibernation, males rush to search for females. They persistently chase, push and bite their partners' limbs and neck. After contented rough courtship, mating occurs, which lasts no more than three minutes and always occurs in the aquatic environment.

Males are aggressive towards their gender.

After 3-4 months, the fertilized female independently digs a small hole on the sandy shore or uses the already existing depression in the soil. It lays from 2 to 6 elliptical eggs, about 30 mm in size. Incubation lasts approximately 80 days.

The turtles that were born weigh about 2 g, and their length does not exceed 25 mm. The first days they feed on the contents of the yolk sac, and then go on to feed small animals.

Musk Turtle Content

For one adult, a terrarium with a minimum volume of 60x30x60 cm is suitable. The larger the area, the better. Musk turtles cannot be called skilled swimmers. They like to roam the bottom rather than swim. For this reason, you can limit yourself to a layer of water of about 10-15 cm.

The reptile should be able to breathe, rising on its hind legs and putting its nostrils above the surface of the water, or crawl out onto land without difficulty.

To do this, put on the bottom a thin layer of fine gravel and river sand, as well as small snags, fragments of oak bark, nutshells or artificial decorations for aquariums.

Be sure to place floating plants in the aquaterrarium. They diversify the diet of reptiles and instill a sense of security in them, recalling the natural habitat.

Musk turtles feel comfortable in the temperature range from 20 ° C to 28 ° C. At lower temperatures, their activity decreases markedly. Lighting should take 12-14 hours a day. Be sure to install a filter for water purification. It is advisable to change it every week.

Pets are fed live, dry or frozen food. They can be given snails, mussels, squids, octopuses, earthworms, shrimp, daphnia, brine shrimp, fish, beef hearts, insects and their larvae.

It is advisable to place small aquarium fish, for example, guppies, together with turtles in the aquaterrarium. They will maintain in the slow reptiles hunting instincts and desire to hunt. Adult animals, as a rule, refuse granular food if they are not accustomed to it from a young age. Of plant foods, they like the stems of the tradescantia, a popular indoor plant.

From time to time, pets need to add calcium and vitamin preparations for reptiles to food. It is natural for them to take food from the bottom, so they often look for it in the thickness of the sand. Small turtles are fed daily, and large turtles twice a week. Overfeeding quickly leads to obesity and diseases of the gastrointestinal tract.

The body length of adults is 7.5-10 cm, the champions grow up to 14 cm. Carapax is painted in dark olive, dark gray or dark brown, and the plastron is yellow-brown. In young turtles, a dark pattern is visible on the shell, which disappears as they grow older.

Two longitudinal light strips stretch along the dark head. On the neck and lower jaw, the skin is covered with warts.

Karapax has a rounded shape with three longitudinal keels. The plastron is oval and relatively small, its front part can move a little.

The life span of an ordinary musk turtle is about 20-26 years.