Mud turtles refer to the small semi-aquatic freshwater turtles. This species of turtle is generally found living on land and water. The color of their outer shell is generally olive to dark brown. Their beak is found to be slightly curved.
Mud turtle diet
Mud turtles are omnivorous meaning they eat both meat and vegetation. The enjoy eating things like tadpoles, insects, worms, fish, along with vegetation. While in captivity, they should be fed dark, fresh green and leafy vegetables including fresh parsley, dandelion greens and other similar items. In addition to the above, mud turtles also enjoy eating guppies/minnows, snails, red worms and earthworms. Research has shown that they have a special and unusual liking for shrimp particularly in spring.
Where do mud turtles live?
Mud turtles tend to be found on sand bottoms, ponds and in water with or without vegetation. Usually the mud turtles prefer ponds with abundant vegetation. Eastern mud turtles are known to prefer the shallow and sluggish bodies of water.
Generally, the mud turtles are found to be in the spring-fed streams. They prefer to thrive in soft, oxygenated and clean water with plenty of decorations.
Mud turtles are considered to be a very popular species of pet. This is because of their small size. An interesting fact about mud turtles is that they rarely grow to be larger than five inches length. This is one of the reasons they are a good pet, because the size is very manageable if you have limited space for a habitat. None the less if they are kept indoors as pets, do ensure that they have enough space to swim around and get plenty of exercise.
As implied by their name, the mud turtles like to burrow in mud during their hibernation. While in captivity, it is not advisable to allow the mud turtles to hibernate therefore you do not provide mud for them. You must be careful about the temperature of the turtle’s enclosure. Do not let it get too cold.
It is always better if you put gravel on the bottom of the tank instead of dirt. Make sure to provide some dry area for your turtle to bask. Driftwood logs and large slabs of slate are considered to be very effective basking spots.
Mud turtles require heat lamps and UVB bulbs to keep themselves warm, along with gaining Vitamin D3 from the UVB lights. This ensures that the calcium is properly absorbed by their bodies.
The basking area temperature of the mud turtles should be about 90 degrees Fahrenheit and this should be maintained by a separate UVB bulb. It is advisable not to use the mercury vapor bulbs for the mud turtle enclosures.
Mating season is usually in from March to May. Female mud turtles are found to secrete a special scent from their glands in order to attract the males. The female turtles store the sperm within their reproductive system for the fertilization to take place. The nesting location is decided by the females. The eggs laid are generally very fragile and can be easily broken. Usually, the eggs hatch around the months of August and September.
Like most aquatic turtles, the mud turtle face shell health problems. The presence of dirty water, inappropriate diet and incorrect lighting all lead to shell deformities, shell flaking and shell rot. Some of the other issues include ear infections, vitamin deficiencies, intestinal parasites and metabolic bone disease.
Mud turtle Predators
The mud turtles are found to have quite a good number of predators. Majority of them are killed when they are still in the eggs. Some of the very common predators of the mud turtles include weasels, skunks, foxes, raccoons, snakes, crows, shrews, possums etc. As a defence mechanism mud turtles secrete an awful smelling liquid from their anal scent glands in order to dissuade their predators from killing them.
Are mud turtles endangered?
Mud turtles are not really an endangered species, but their habitat is gradually being lost due to the agricultural practices, rapid urbanization and land development. Many of them are often killed on roads. They are killed due to the excessive pollution from pesticides and from the draining of the wetlands.