Wednesday, May 25, 2011
Species of the Day: Common Musk Turtle
Scientific Name: Sternotherus odoratus
Adult Size: Up to 4 1/2 inches long
Rage: Found throughout the eastern United States and southern Canada (Ontario), stretching from Maine to Florida and west to central Texas
Habitat: Generalist. Found in lakes and ponds with abundant aquatic vegetation. Also frequents rivers and streams. Can occur in permanent wetlands without dry seasons.
The Common Musk turtle is also known as the "Stink Pot" turtle for the musky odor it emits from glands on its plastron as a defense mechanism. Common Musk turtles can stretch their necks out quite far and can turn their necks around behind then to deliver a pinching bite to the fingers of the person holding them. However, they settle down quite well in captivity, and some captive bred animals can actually become quite friendly toward humans and will stop emitting the foul smell. Because of their small size, they make great pets.
Common Musk turtles are capable swimmers and do well in aquariums that contain deep water, however be provided with some structure, solidly stacked cinder blocks or submerged logs work very well, so that they may rest with just their hands sticking out of the water. From the thick algae that covers the carapaces of wild individuals, it would seem that they don't bask very frequently, but should still be provided a basking light as well as UVB/UVA lighting. As well as submerged logs, stones and cinder blocks, plants, either real or plastic (non-toxic) should be provided for more cover and hiding places.
Common Musk turtles are generally carnivorous. In the wild they often crawl along the bottom of a pond or stream in search of aquatic insects, worms and especially snails. Live or dead fish along with other carrion are scavenged when available. Captive individuals will eat various insects, earthworms, and chopped fish. Although a young Musk turtle may be given as much food as they can consume, rationing to a good meal once a week for adults can combat the obesity that some turtles seem to be prone to.