Razor-backed Musk Turtle

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Species group:

Other common names: Razorback Musk Turtle; Razor Back Musk Turtle; Keeled Musk Turtle

Scientific name: Sternotherus carinatus

The basics:
The Razor-backed Musk Turtle is native to slow moving creeks and rivers throughout the southern United States. It is primarily an aquatic species, and only infrequently basks above water. The Razorback Musk Turtle is commonly kept as a pet, and for this reason is regularly captive bred.

According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN), "Sternotherus carinatus is a widespread, locally abundant species that is not subject to specific significant threats, occurs in an extensive series of protected areas, and as such its future survival does not appear to be a matter of significant concern. It is therefore listed as Least Concern."

Appearance / health:
The Razor-backed Musk Turtle has a brown carapace and high, sharply keeled shell. It reaches 5-6 inches in length.

Behavior / temperament:
Razor-backed Musk Turtles tend to be a shy species. When frightened these turtles will emit a musk. As their other common name Stinkpot suggests, the musk does not have a pleasant odor. With gentle handling most pets do not general musk their owners. They are reclusive and will need plenty of hiding spots to feel secure.

The Razor-backed Musk Turtle can be housed either indoors or outdoors. One turtle will need at least a 30 gallon tank when housed indoors.

LIFESPAN: 30-50 years

TEMPERATURE/HUMIDITY: Water Temperature: 75-79° F; Ambient Air Temperature: 75-83° F, Basking: 85-95 °F.

HIBERNATION / ESTIVATION: The Common Musk Turtle naturally hibernates by burrowing in mud if the water temperature goes below 50° F. They may even hibernate communally.

Razor-backed Musk Turtles scavenge most any food they find on the bottom of their creek or pond. They are considered omnivores but have a preference for meat. Their natural diet includes mollusks, algae, water insects, fish, and aquatic plants. In captivity they can be fed a varied omnivore diet similar to their wild diet. They do tend to prefer foods that are naturally found in water; for example they find water snails much tasteier than land snails. They will also enjoy turtle pellets once they have fallen to the bottom.

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