Musk Turtles

Musk turtles, also known as stinkpots, seem to prefer deep, still water in lakes, ponds, and sluggish streams with muddy bottoms and an abundance of plant life. On their head, they have two light stripes that flow from the nose, through the eyes and to the neck. Barbells are present on the throat and chin. Their carapace is smooth, with three, highly domed and extended keels. A layer of algae usually covers their carapace. Their usual color is dark gray or olive brown. Their usual size is from three to five inches long and they have long necks.

The Behavior Of The Musk Turtle

The Musk turtle is not a very aggressive one but they are capable to snatch a finger by stretching their necks, if they are annoyed or they feel threatened. They are very inactive in the morning and they tend to stay buried in the mud. In the morning or late at night you can see musk turtles jogging on the bottom of the rivers. They spend most of their time underwater and they rarely bask in the sun.

The musk turtles mate twice a year, from April to May and from September to October the second time. The nesting season is just like the mating season.

Habitat, The Location of The Musk Turtles

They tend to prefer slow moving or still water, and though they are a highly aquatic species, rarely coming out to bask in captivity, in their natural habitat they will seeming defy gravity by climbing up near 90 degree angled branches. Musk turtles inhabit many different types of aquatic habitats but prefer still shallow water with plenty of aquatic vegetation such as lily pads. Their habitat is very scattered, it ranges from New England to southern Ontario south to Florida west to Wisconsin and all the way to central Texas.

More Information About The Musk Turtles

The Musk turtle is the second as dimension after the Bog turtle. You can identify it by its 4 yellow lines which start from the nose and go unto the neck and eyes. Their carapace is olive-brown or almost black, thanks to some black strip marks. The plastron is yellow or even brown, and very small, allowing them to move easily than other turtles do. As their name suggest, they spread a stinky smell when they are disturbed or when they get scared. This is a yellowish liquid which comes out from two glands that are placed between the carapace and the plastron. They also use it in courtship.

Male or female?

Between males and females are some differences, so you can easily distinguish them. Firstly, the male’s tail is much thicker, longer and ends in a blunt barb. Secondly, they have a deep nick on the back of their plastron. Females don’t have the sharped point of the tail or the deep notch on the plastron. One more difference is that male’s head is bigger than females.

Where do they live?

They avoid mountainous or hilly areas and prefer to spend much of their time in the shallow waters with a muddy bottom. You can meet them in almost every waterway (ditches, lakes, lagoons, streams, marshes, ponds, bayous, swamps, oxbow or even in brackish water ).

The Musk turtle can be found from southern Ontario, southern Quebec, and Southern Maine to the north, south Florida, and East central Texas. Other places where they live are central Wisconsin and Minnesota.

What do they eat?

They are omnivorous, therefore they eat both plants and little animals. Turtles look for creatures to eat in the soft mud or sand. Their diet is made up from aquatic insects, earthworms, crabs, crayfish, snails, fish eggs, clams, small fish, millipedes, tadpoles, adult frogs or any other carrion that they may find in the water. The plants they like more are algae.

How they behave?

Musk turtles from the northern parts are inactive between late October and early April, unlike the ones from the south which are inactive only in January and February. In early spring they like to bask in the shallow vegetation, with the center of their carapace exposed to the sun. Thanks to their small plastron, they can easily climb trees to bask.

The Musk turtles use to spend much of their time underwater. That is why their carapace is sometimes covered with algae. This helps them to escape from many predators and to angle for food without being noticed.

Both male and female usually mature in 2-4 years. The ones from north mate from March to June, and the others mate from February to May. The nesting period is almost identical to the mating one. The females prefer to lay their eggs in communal nests placed on the banks of lakes, gravel pits, under logs on shorelines, roadside edges, woodlands, leaf litter and even in musk rat lodges. They usually lay 2 to 9 eggs which will hatch between 9 to 12 weeks.

The life spam of this turtle is between 40-54 years, but many don’t reach to this age because of the pollution caused by the humans.

Specific Types of Turtles:

  • The Bog Turtles - There are small turtles in the world, but the Bog turtle is the smallest and is one of the most rare turtles around. The Bog turtle rarely grows four inches.
  • The Musk Turtles - Musk turtles, also known as stinkpots, seem to prefer deep, still water in lakes, ponds, and sluggish streams with muddy bottoms and an abundance of plant life.
  • The Painted Turtles - The Painted Turtle must be the most common widespread turtle. Their size varies between five and six inches, so they are among the small sized turtles.
  • The Slider Turtles - The colors that you can see on slider turtles are usually red or olive green. The skin and shell of a slider turtle is splotched with red or yellow.
  • The Snapping Turtles - The "Most Dangerous" award goes to the snapping turtle, out of all the turtle species. Snapping turtles have long necks and powerful jaws that combined with the vicious temper make them very hard to handle safely.
  • The Soft Shell Turtles - They are called Soft Shell Turtles but their shell is not soft at all, actually their shells are as hard as any turtle shell.
  • The Box Turtles - Box turtles are a land species but they can occasionally be found near or in the water. They prefer swamps of moist open woods but they are very well adapted to live on land.
  • The Mud Turtles - Mud turtles are divided into five species, K. baurii, K. Subrubrum, K.s. hippocrepis, K. flavescens, and the K.hirtopes murrayi. The colors of the mud turtles tend to be dull, compared to other types of turtles.