Turtles are fantastic creatures, aren’t they? Renowned for their outstanding lifespan and slower pace of life, more and more of us want to share our homes and lives with turtles.
But which species? There are so many variations and species of turtles that narrowing down your choice is challenging! Especially if you are looking for a pet and know how to care for them. All species require slightly different care and must be treated accordingly, leaving you wondering just how am I meant to care for a turtle?
Well, wonder no more! We are here to walk you through the different breeds of turtles and offer you an ultimate guide! We have articles to cover every turtle species, so be sure to stick around to find out more!
But today, we are tackling all things Loggerhead Musk Turtle, so without further ado, let’s get into it!
Male vs. Female
Female Loggerhead Musk turtles tend to be larger, reaching longer lengths than the males. Females typically take eight years to reach sexual maturity, where the male turtle will hit it in 4 years.
Male turtles will have a tucker and longer tail too. Older males also have larger heads than adult female Loggerheads, making them easy to identify. The male turtle’s head is often darker than the females too.
Aside from these features, we notice little difference between male and female Loggerhead Musk turtles. They appear to be priced the same, too, and have the same lifespan.
The Loggerhead Musk turtle or Sternotherus minor is a small turtle, usually 4-5 inches in size, and known for its large heads. Compared to common musk turtles, their head is quite large, and they are generally larger.
There will be a small plastron that’s pink or yellow. Their heads are usually brown or light grey with either spots or lines on too. The plastron offers little protection for them.
They feature a flatter-shaped carapace and barbels on their chins and throat. Their bodies feature a prominent central keel that might fade as the turtle ages. They also have webbed toes that help them move through the water.
Overall, it’s a cute turtle and one that is easy to recognize using these traits.
As a Pet
As a pet, Loggerhead Musk turtles are easy to care for and maintain! Typically, these turtles are popular with beginners and require no prior care experience for turtles. You won’t need to worry about this turtle being shy! These turtles are extremely personable too and quite responsive.
They can live peacefully with other species of turtles such as painted, cooters, and sliders. They will need lots of room in tanks with other turtles and enjoy deeper water. You will need to follow the care instructions below to ensure that your tank is suitable for these turtles.
You can breed them at home, too, providing adequate space for the female to lay her eggs. Be warned, though, when you have several male turtles together, they can become aggressive! It’s also worth only handling the turtle when necessary, as their strong jaws have a mean bite!
On average, Loggerhead Musk turtles live for around 20 years. In captivity, Loggerheads can live slightly longer for up to 23 years! But in the wild, the longest lifespan recorded is 21 years.
These turtles’ lifespan isn’t as long as other breeds, but they still offer a long life that can be enjoyable when in good health. As there are fewer predator threats in captivity and they don’t need to worry about food, they tend to live longer!
These turtles tend to be diurnal, an adaptation put down to their habitat. These responsive turtles tend to be more outgoing than other turtles, even their close relative’s mud turtles.
They have also adapted to their water surroundings due to webbed toes that easily move through the water. These social turtles adapt well to communities and can pair well with other musk turtles and species.
The breeding season occurs in the spring and tends to last until the summer season. We see male turtles reach their sexual maturity at around four years, whereas it takes the female eight years to mature. Their mating takes place underwater, where the female will then leave the water to lay her eggs.
Loggerheads typically lay two to five clutches that will contain one to five eggs each. These eggs are elliptical and will be placed in wet debris or underdogs along a stream or creek. They can also be placed in sandy areas where these turtles dig nests.
The eggs will take anywhere from 61 to 119 days to hatch, depending on the temperature. We see an incubation period of 60 to 120 days.
The eggs will then hatch and have a small carapace and pink-like plastron. They are roughly an inch or so when they hatch, making them tiny!
Loggerheads tend to grow fairly slowly, although there is some variation here depending on the temperatures and conditions your turtle is growing in. When fed correctly, your turtle should grow fairly slowly, doubling in size in roughly ten months.
As each turtle is slightly different, there are discrepancies here. As hatchlings, Loggerheads tend to grow quickly, but the rate then slows. It can take them anywhere from 1-3 years to reach their full adult size. You can expect the growth rate to slow as they get older, and you might not notice a size difference from one week or month to the next.
Like other turtles, Loggerheads start as eggs and hatch after roughly 61-119 days. These hatchlings then grow into juvenile turtles. There is little involvement from Loggerheads parents; they grow and explore the world independently.
By roughly 1-3 years, they reach maturity and are considered adult turtles. Their sexual maturity depends on their sex, and then they mate and lay their eggs. During this time, the eggs will incubate and hatch, starting the process again.
A Loggerhead tends to live for 20 years on average.
While a recorded population of these turtles isn’t available, there is no concern about their population. Loggerhead Musks aren’t on any concern lists and are yet to be granted special status for their population.
The greatest threat currently is pollution and fishermen. These turtles are likely to take the bait or be harmed by a boat’s propellers. But generally, the population is going well, with high-density levels reported in Florida, Mississippi, and Tennessee, where they are protected from commercial exploitation.
Turtles are allowed to be taken from habitats, but selling them is not allowed in some states. Check your state rules before purchasing a Loggerhead Musk! The same cannot be said in Alabama, Georgia, and Louisiana, meaning we noticed discrepancies in the population.
Loggerhead Musk turtles generally eat snails, fish, insects, and worms. It’s also worth feeding them turtle food pellets, ensuring they get all the nutrients and vitamins they need for a healthy life.
The strong jaws of Loggerheads have made it easy for them to eat and crack harder shells or insects when needed. These jaws even help them eat other turtles or crack the shells of their prey in the wild!
To keep their jaws strong and healthy, snails can be fantastic to feed them due to their hard shells. These carnivores will eat plant substances too but need a good source of meat in their diet.
They eat aquatic insects, mollusks, and crayfish in the wild, with tiny snails being popular. They will even eat algae or decayed matter found in river banks too. Tadpoles, fish eggs, and duckweed are also consumed when they eat in the water. Something you aren’t likely to worry about if you keep the turtle alone in captivity.
In the wild, Loggerhead Musk turtles are vulnerable to a range of animals. Their nests can be targeted by birds, reptiles, and mammals such as raccoons, crows, possums, and skunks. Common kingsnakes will also show an interest in the nests and potentially harm baby turtles in the nests!
For adults, the main threat is usually alligators, alligators snapping turtles, snapping turtles, cottonmouths, and large fish. Humans are also a threat to them in the wild, rife for poaching or removing their habitat to keep as pets.
For juvenile Loggerhead Musk turtles, larger vertebrates tend to be their predators, along with alligators and humans too.
While that sounds like a lot of predators, these turtles aren’t defenseless! When stressed, anxious, or threatened by a predator, the turtle releases a yellow substance. It has a horrendous smell that scares away predators. You are unlikely to see it in captivity unless the turtle is extremely stressed, but it’s worth being aware of!
Loggerhead Musk Turtles also have strong jaws they can bite with when defending themselves too. It’s handy when you consider how many predators these turtles have; just be careful not to get bitten!
These small turtles will need plenty of room to roam; thankfully, you can usually keep them in a 30-gallon tank, offering them plenty of space to roam and grow. However, multiple turtles should be kept in larger spaces to avoid them becoming aggressive with one another.
There is no set limit on their roaming range, just ensuring their tank is large enough is all you need to worry about when it comes to roaming! It’s best to leave your turtle in their tank, though, as the environment you have created is one they will flourish in.
There don’t appear to be any diseases specifically attributed to Loggerhead Musks. You will need to keep an eye out for diseases that tend to impact most turtles. Commonly, respiratory issues can occur as your turtle ages. Ensuring that their tank is clean and well filtered should help ward off infections too.
Generally, these turtles are perceived as disease-free, but they could incur health problems as they age. Be sure to take them to a vet if you have any concerns about their health.
Like other turtles, Loggerheads tend to have yellow or yellow-brown eyes. They feature black pupils that tend to take up most of their eyes. The eye color can change as a turtle grows and reaches maturity too.
During the winter, these turtles will hibernate. They usually hibernate under soft bodies of mud or between rocks. You can recreate this space for them in captivity quite easily.
Can they swim?
While these turtles can swim, they aren’t the best! Loggerhead Musk turtles have webbed toes that help them navigate the water, but they aren’t strong swimmers by nature.
Loggerheads can become tired in the water and even drown in some cases, which can be surprising considering so much of their natural habitat is near the water. These turtles spend a while underwater, getting oxygen from it too! Surprisingly, they can’t swim that well; instead, you can see them strolling in creeks and river bottoms.
Caring for Loggerhead Musk turtles isn’t overly difficult; they are usually the recommended turtle for beginners! Their small size means you don’t need a large tank; 30 gallons is usually plenty of space for them. If you are keeping more, though, you will need a larger tank.
High oxygen levels will be needed, as these turtles naturally spend a lot of time in the water. You will also want a high-quality filtration system as these turtles tend to be messy eaters! You will want to feed them daily for hatchlings, but 2-3 times a week is ideal as they age.
Be sure to check the diet section, so you know what to feed these turtles!
A deepwater habitat is great for these turtles to provide them with plenty of oxygen. You will want floating aquatic plants and a bare bottom or river pebbles. River pebbles will allow them to forage as they would in the wild. Avoid extreme temperatures, too, as these can cause stress for the turtles. A thermometer or regulated temperature is ideal to ensure they don’t overheat or become too cold.
Loggerhead musk turtles are fairly affordable turtles to purchase. You can find deals when purchasing multiple ones and fair prices for hatchlings too. There seems to be little difference in cost between male and female turtles, too, that we have seen.
You can purchase these turtles online, at local pet or reptile stores too. Be sure that you purchase your turtle from a reputable breeder or seller. Doing your research reduces the chances of you buying turtles that have been forcibly removed from their habitat or have any health issues.
- Loggerhead Musks have larger heads and small bodies
- They are the largest of all hard-shelled turtles
- They are the most abundant turtle in the US
- All of their toes are webbed
- They are called Loggerhead because of their larger head and powerful jaws,
And just like that, we have reached the end of our Loggerhead Musk turtle journey today! As you can see, these turtles are fairly easy to care for and will be fantastic pets for you to share your homes with! These responsive and personable turtles make wonderful companions and are an interesting species to care for.
Make sure that the conditions are right and they don’t feel threatened to ensure your loggerhead musk turtle remains happy and healthy!