Musk Turtle (Sternotherus Odoratus)

Musk Turtle

Musk Turtle

Musk turtles are one of the most famous turtles known to be a pet. These species are mostly found in Southern Canada and the Eastern United States. They are also called the Stinkpot. It got its name as stinkpot because it can release a foul and musky odor from its anal canal in order to dissuade predators.

Musk Turtle diet

As we know Musk turtles are kept as pets. So the question arises what do Musk Turtles eat or what is their diet? These turtles are mostly carnivorous and they usually feed on small creatures like snails, crawdads, mollusks, insects and any other small creatures.

Apart from this their diet consists of aquatic invertebrates particularly freshwater clams, crayfish and even insects found in water. They even feed on carrion and small fish. Occasionally they will eat plants as well, so when keeping them as pets it is good to mix up their pallet.

Habitat of Musk Turtles

Where do musk turtles live? These turtles are mostly found in varieties of littoral zones and wetland habitats particularly in shallow watercourses having slow water current. They like to remain in muddy areas. They are capable of climbing as well as can remain in water.

They are sometimes found in woody debris and can even be seen basking on fallen trees. Fallen trees and woody debris are an important component of wetland habitat. They nest on sandy land mostly in the shoreline. Sometimes they hibernate under mud logs or in muskrat lodges.

Musk Turtle facts

The stinkpots are a small species of turtles and their color varies from black, brown and gray. They have highly domed shell covering their body. Their average size varies from 5 to 14 cm and weight is about 600 to 603 grams.

They have short legs and long necks that come out from the dome. The male musk turtles can be distinguished from the female by their tails. Males have significantly longer tail than the females. The head of these turtles is vaguely triangular having a pointed snout beak.

The plastrons are genuinely small that offers protection to their legs. These creatures have a tiny tongue that is mostly covered with bud-like papillae. It helps them to breathe under water.

These turtles remain active in warm weather and gets inactive when the weather becomes cold. The turtles found in the north are active from t April to October and hibernate for the remaining months.

Breeding mostly occurs in spring. Females lay about 2 to 10 hard shelled elliptical eggs under the shoreline debris or in a shallow burrow. They have an unusual behavior of sharing their nesting sites. Sometimes one can find about 15 to 16 eggs under a single log or in one burrow.

The eggs mostly hatch towards the end of summer. The hatchlings or baby turtles are approximately one inch long. The average lifespan of these turtles can be 50+ years. They are not aggressive but can bite if are irritated or provoked.

Musk Turtle predators

As with any animal Musk turtles also have predators. Starting before their birth predators are already after their eggs. The behavior of sharing the nest with other turtles has its downside as it helps the predators find the eggs. The most common threats are crows, vultures etc. they eat the eggs before they hatch.

If the eggs have survived to the point of hatching, the hatchlings still have to reach the water. At this time they are about 1cm in length. This can be a common time for the predators to attack and eat them.

Apart from this the stinkpot turtles are mostly eaten by raccoons. They are also killed when they are hit by boats or caught by fisherman.

Are Musk Turtles Endangered?

The musk turtles are found in abundant particularly in the wetlands of Canada and the United States. However due to ship accidents and other causes these species are on the endangered list.

So, actions have been taken to preserve this turtle species from becoming extinct. In Canada, the United States and Mexico sanctuaries have been made specifically for these turtles.

Truly these are neither helpful nor harmful to the human society. But they are to be preserved before becoming extinct like so many other species.