Belonging to the family of Kinosternidae, the striped mud turtle also known as the three striped mud turtle is prevalent in the Southeastern United States. It gets its name because of the three light tan stripes that run along the length of its shell. Cream colored or light brown lines can also be present on the head. Usually dark brown in color, the carapace is domed. Males have a thicker and longer tail than females.
Facts and Information
Striped mud turtles have a carapace of about 4 inches. Like its other Kinosternidae family members, it’s extremely small in size and loves to walk on the bottom of a waterbed. They are very tiny when born, hatchlings are only about an inch in diameter. Even at their largest, they only grow to about 4 to 5 inches.
Natural History of Striped Mud Turtles
Striped mud turtles and other mud turtles have been at the center of a debate about if they should be merged into a single genus. John Iverson’s study on shells and skins of musk and mud turtles shows the difference between them.
Striped mud turtles from different geographies have varying habits, but they have all been found to prefer slow-moving or still bodies of water. Common places they are usually found are in mud or sand. They also search for food in cow dung and muck. For a long time, striped mud turtles were thought to be highly aquatic and never leave the water.
Recent studies have shown that they also spend time on land. In summer, they like to stay submerged in water, especially in shallow lakes and ponds as they begin to dry out. When on land, they commonly dig burrows.
Striped Mud Turtle’s Natural Habitat
As mentioned above, striped mud turtle usually live in ditches and ponds in Florida. They can also be found in freshwater and saltwater along with marshes and wet fields. Like the common musk turtle, they like to dwell in soft-bottomed soils and shallow waters that have slow currents and plenty of aquatic plants. These turtles tend to stay underwater most of the time and rarely bask. Some striped mud turtles can spend up to a month underwater without coming to the surface.
Striped Mud Turtle’s Diet
Striped mud turtles are considered omnivores by nature. They feed on a couple of aquatic animals and insects like carrion, snails, and fish but also eat aquatic plants like algae and dried krill. They enjoy a high protein diet like small earthworms and crustaceans.
Striped Mud Turtle’s breeding
Female striped turtles can store the sperm for a year or more. Usually, females lay up to 7 eggs. The egg deposits occur after every seven or eight weeks. Like other turtles and reptiles, the sex is determined by the temperature maintained during the period of incubation. The incubation period carries on for two and a half to five months. The hatchlings open the egg and take 96 days to come out of the egg. The carapace of a hatchling is usually very dark, and the sides can take years to develop.
Care Guide for Pet Striped Mud Turtles
Striped Mud Turtles like an oversized tank – well at the beginning hatchlings are pretty small and can be kept in a smaller tank. A twenty-gallon tank will be enough for 2 or 3 striped mud turtle adults.
They feel comfortable in shallow water in their natural habitat so a small amount “tank furniture” (rocks, plants, logs, etc.) can provide them a similar environment where they can walk and rest. They are happy to eat any kind of high protein diet, and that they enjoy tiny insects & crustaceans. They can be partnered with any similarly sized mud or musk turtles.
A basking area should be available for the mud turtle to climb out and dry in. A UVB light should be used for the basking area along with a heat lamp. The cleanliness of the water should be maintained by installing filters and temperature should be controlled by heating equipment. Striped mud turtles are not very common pets, but many of their features prove that they can be very interesting.
Striped Mud Turtle Habitat Setup Video
So, over to you! Do you have a striped mud turtle? Are you thinking of getting one? Let me know in the comments!