The Differences in Mud and Musk Turtles

I have decided to do something different today. I am posting a difference and similarities of mud and musk turtles, and their subspecies. If you have more questions on mud or musk turtles, refer to my Q & A Page, here on my blog.

Similarities of Mud and Musk Turtles

Now, Mud and Musk turtles are actually from the same family. This family is called “Emydidae”. When it comes to differences in turtles, it varies with species.

Eastern mud turtles & musk turtles have very similar diets. Commercial food pellets (ReptoMin, etc.) can be the staple of their diet, however, they need some fish and invertebrates. They are very fond of snails, guppies, minnows, earthworms, and redworms. However, be aware that wild caught food for any turtle can lead to sickness, as these sources of food may be harmful (pesticides, diseases, leaches, lice, etc.).

Both mud and musk turtles each grow to be approximately 4-6 inches long, so they are a smaller kind of turtle, or a “dwarf turtle”. Their carapace (shell) can be smooth olive to dark brown. Both species have hinged plastrons to let them hide, or “box up”.

Differences of Mud and Musk Turtles

Mud turtles have a much better developed plastron than the musk turtle, for better protection. However, this means decreased mobility. This means that they are safe(er) on land and pretty much everywhere else, too.

The Eastern and Mississippi mud turtles are weak swimmers. They cannot be in too deep water, because they have been found (suspected drowning, because they were healthy) in their tanks, whereas stinkpots (common musk turtles) and other musk turtles do fine in deep tanks if there are plants or driftwood for them to climb up for air.

Stinkpots seem to have more pointed faces than the Mississippi mud turtles.

The major care difference between stinkpot, loggerhead & razorback musk turtles is having the capability of hibernating. Personally, I don’t hibernate turtles and see no point to do so, because what is the point in having a pet turtle if you only see him (or her) half of the year? Others may differ, but this is my personal opinion.

Neutral/Faqs of Mud and Musk Turtles

There are two subspecies of the eastern mud turtles, besides the Eastern and the Mississippi mud turtle.

Razorback musk turtles bask a lot, and can be somewhat shy. However, if you get a fresh hatchling and work with it, you could perhaps be really close!

The loggerhead musk and stripeneck musk turtles species are rare. The stripeneck turtle cost around $60. Loggerheads can cost about $20-40 and can get really large heads, especially males.

Stinkpots have the largest native range of any North American mud or musk turtle.


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