Guide To Keeping Musk Turtles

Guide To Keeping Musk Turtles


Buying any pet is a big decision but there are several things you may want to consider first to make sure that a Musk Turtle is the pet for you:

  • Are all of the people in your household happy with a turtle coming to live there?
  • Can you guarantee that you will have a regular supply of frozen aquatic food and specialist turtle food to feed to your turtle?
  • Are you happy to keep frozen aquatic food in your freezer at home?
  • Are you prepared to look after an animal that could live up to and beyond 40 years?
  • Is there someone that you can ask to look after your pet if you are away?
  • Musk Turtles are aquatic animals so need to have a large amount of water to flourish, they will also need to be provided with a basking spot on dry land.
  • Regular water changes and a good filter will be needed when keeping Musk Turtles.

Types of Animal

There are two commonly available types of Musk Turtle – the Common Musk Turtle and the Razor Back Musk Turtle.

Buying a Musk Turtle

We recommend buying a Musk Turtle from a reputable pet shop. The shop will also be able to help you with a supply of good quality frozen aquatic food items to feed to your turtle.

Check before purchasing:

The Turtle is feeding well.
Any reputable pet shop should be able to provide answers on how often the turtle is being fed and what type and frozen aquatic food it enjoys most.
The Musk Turtle is healthy.
5 point animal health check:
  • Make sure that the animal is alert and responsive.
  • The skin should be moist and free from blisters or sores and the shell should be crack free.
  • The mouth should be clear of any thick mucus and should not smell bad.
  • The Turtle should be able to easily open its eyes, which should be bright, clean and clear.
  • The Turtle should be a keen feeder.

Caring For Your Musk Turtle


  • Ease of Care:Intermediate
  • Size:10-15cm
  • Life Span:Up to 40 years
  • Diet:Frozen Aquatic Food and Specialist Turtle Food
  • Temperament:Inquisitive
  • Water Temp:23-26⁰C (73.4-78.8⁰F)
  • HOT Spot:28-32⁰C (82.4-89.6⁰F)

Equipment Needed

  • Housing:Turtle Terrarium or Aquarium
  • Heating:Underwater Heater and Basking Bulb
  • Lighting:UV Tube (Light Cycle: 12 hours of light)
  • Substrate:Riverbed Sand or Pebbles
  • Water:Treated Water

Top Tips

  • Provide a basking area on dry land to allow the turtle to bask.
  • Specially designed turtle islands can be bought or a piece of flat cork can be fixed in place under the basking spot to create the dry area.
  • To keep your turtle stimulated offer it a variety of frozen aquatic food and specialist turtle food.
  • Use an Arcadia Poly Filter to help keep the water in the tank clear.
  • Keep the water well oxygenated by using an air stone or a filter with an outlet above the water’s surface.


A relevant sized Turtle Terrarium is the perfect housing solution for a Musk Turtle throughout its whole life.

  • Turtle

    Baby/Juvenile Turtles:

    Exo Terra Glass Turtle Terrarium, 60 x 45 x 30/45cm (24 x 18 x 12/18”)

  • Turtle

    Sub Adult/Adult Turtles:

    Exo Terra Glass Turtle Terrarium, 60 x 45 x 30/45cm (24 x 18 x 12/18”)



Originating from Northern America these turtles live in water temperatures of 20-26⁰C (68-78.8⁰F).

Make sure the Musk Turtle has the opportunity to bask on dry land. The basking area should be set-up on top of the water’s surface using either a piece of flat cork bark or a floating turtle platform and a basking bulb run on a dimming thermostat positioned above.

Correct placement of the probe is critical to avoid overheating and injury to the Turtle.

Insert the probe through the top of the turtle’s enclosure and position it on the basking area. The probe cable should be taped 2-5cm (1-2”) back from the actual probe sensor to allow for a correct temperature reading and avoid it becoming dislodged.

Temperature and Monitoring

As a rough guide, the water temperature should be 23-26⁰C (73.4-78.8⁰F) at all times, day and night. The day time basking site on dry land should be 28-32⁰C (82.4-89.6⁰F). Make sure temperatures are checked regularly to ensure that there are no extreme fluctuations.


A UV turtle light of 7% should be used with Musk Turtles to provide them with a day and night cycle, enabling them to process essential vitamins and minerals. These lights are specifically designed for Turtles, are splash-proof and will provide the correct levels of UV.

Substrates and Decoration

Personal choice will dictate how you decorate your turtle terrarium or aquarium but we recommend the following as a guide:

  • Substrates: Riverbed Sand or Pebbles. These have been specifically designed for use in water and contain to sharp edges or risks of impaction.
  • Wood to provide a floating platform for the turtle to bask upon, or a turtle island.
  • Artificial or live plants for aquatic habitats to add decoration and to provide security the Turtle to hide away in if it chooses to.

Diet and Water

Babies through to adults should be offered Frozen Aquatic Food and Specialist Turtle Food to ensure a nutritionally balanced diet.

Musk Turtles spend much of their lives under water so it is important to make sure they have a clean and fresh aquatic environment to flourish in.

The water used to fill the tank should be de-chlorinated using a water treatment. Any additional water added to the turtle’s enclosure must also be treated in the same way.

To ensure that the water is kept clean and fresh a turtle filter should be fitted and partial water changes need to be done every week. Take 10-15% of the tank’s water volume out and replace it with clean fresh water. The filter should be cleaned every week to ensure it works correctly.


If a good quality Frozen Aquatic Food and Specialist Turtle Food is used no additional supplementation will be needed.

Health & Hygiene

Always wash your hands, surfaces and equipment with warm water and disinfectant immediately before and after handling or feeding your turtle, their food, enclosure and any other equipment.

Additional Information

Musk Turtles are an ideal species of turtle to keep as a pet due to their small adult size.

Musk Turtles are not the greatest of swimmers, preferring to walk along the bottom of the tank. A water depth of around 25-35cm (10-14”) is more than sufficient.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • How big will my Musk Turtle grow?

    Musk Turtles grow to around 10-15cm (4-6”). Females will normally grow bigger than males.

  • How long will my Musk Turtle live for?

    A Musk Turtle may live for up to 40 years in captivity if cared for correctly.

  • Can I handle my turtle?

    Musk Turtles are more of a display animal.

  • Will my Musk Turtle eat fruit?

    Musk Turtles mainly eat aquatic invertebrates, they do not eat fruit as a rule.

  • What other types of beginner turtles are there?

    Reeves Turtles.