White-Lipped Mud Turtle: Ultimate Guide

White-Lipped Mud Turtles are a dainty and beautiful breed with a dark shell and a delicate patterned face. Despite their friendly appearance, they are not an easy breed to look after. We would only recommend owning a White-Lipped Mud Turtle if you already have some experience with caring for these types of creatures.

They are a handsome breed that comes from Central and South American, with an energetic and social streak. Although we would suggest gaining some turtle knowledge before caring for a White-Lipped Mud Turtle, they are not the hardest aquatic species to handle. They can even be happy and friendly living alongside other turtles and fish too.

Male vs Female

It is typical for female turtles to be larger than their male counterparts, but White-Lipped Mud Turtles do not follow this same pattern. Males of this breed will grow much larger than females, which means you can identify the boys by their bigger heads as well as their thicker and longer tails.


White-Lipped Mud Turtles have distinctive white lips, which are surrounded by creamy skin on their jawline. This is their most identifiable feature, but you can also point them out from their smooth oval shells, which grow in different shades of blacks and browns. These shells have an unusual domed back that slopes at the front, which can help you point out their mud turtle category. 

The tops of a White-Lipped Mud Turtle’s head are a mixture of browns and yellows, which often create a speckled pattern. They have fleshy barbels on their chins which continues the yellowy marks.

On the tail of a White-Lipped Mud Turtle, you will also notice a horned spine.

As a Pet

You can have White-Lipped Mud Turtles as a pet, however, you should be aware that they don’t like to be handled. This is typical of the Mud Turtle species. Ideally, the only time you should touch them is if you need to transfer them into a separate feeding enclosure. 

Not being able to handle these turtles doesn’t mean that the White-Lipped Mud Turtles will be a boring pet. In fact, they are an amazing interesting buddy to have as they are very active and fascinating to watch as they interact with their enclosure. 

They are good-natured reptiles and will happily approach you if you offer them food. It shouldn’t take long for you to notice an excited reaction when you enter their line of sight.


White-Lipped Mud Turtles have a long life expectancy of between 30 and 50 years if they are well cared for. In the wild, they may not reach past the age of 19 years.


Like most Mud turtles, the White-Lipped Mud Turtle can encase all of their limbs into the shells to protect their bodies from the attacks of a predator.

They can also bury themselves in sandy-bottomed habitats if water levels drop lower than their needs. If an aquatic habitat is shallow enough, they will walk along the bottom of their enclosure.

Breeding Season

White-Lipped Mud Turtles can breed throughout the year, but you are most likely to find them attempting to mate between August and September. 

When a White-Lipped Mud Turtle becomes pregnant and is near laying time, she will either find or create a nest of dead leaves, so you should give your pets some foliage to help them create a space. 


The clutch can contain anywhere between one and five eggs, and these eggs will hatch between three and nine months later, depending on the time of year they were laid.

Growth Rate

White-Lipped Mud Turtles can grow up to 8 inches long, and the males will likely grow thicker than the females.

Life Cycle

Depending on their habitat and quality of water, White Lipped Mud Turtles have a long life cycle. You can expect the males to reach maturity quicker than the females. If the water quality is bad, then they will reach maturity quicker in an attempt to find safe and new land, but they will also have a shorter lifespan due to the growth spurt. 


White-Lipped Mud Turtles are not endangered or even rare; they are considered common forms of turtle and were thought to be a 50/50 male/female species until 2016.

In 2016 researchers discovered a sex ratio of 2.5 male to 1 female, making it a very male-dominated species. 

It isn’t known how many White-Lipped Mud Turtles there are in the wild, as they are not on any watch list.


White-Lipped Mud Turtles are omnivores, and they aren’t fussy eaters at all, which means you can feed them almost anything, and they will be happy. Their favorite foods are strips of fish or meat, mollusks, typical commercial turtle pellets, crustaceans, and insects.

You should watch out for overfeeding, as White Lipped Mud Turtles aren’t good at regulating themselves. Hatchlings should be fed once a day, but adults only need feeding once or twice a week.

You can offer your White Lipped Mud Turtles a variety of dark greens and vegetables every day if you are worried about underfeeding, as these healthy options will not harm them.

Most Mud turtles are messy eaters, so you might want to have your turtles eat in a separate enclosure so that there is less clean-up after the feeding time.


The natural predators for the  White-Lipped Mud Turtle are snakes, lizards, and birds. Most of these creatures will try and steal the turtle’s eggs, but the larger species will attack an adult if food is scarce. 

Roaming Range

There isn’t a lot of information about how far a White-Lipped Mud Turtle will roam, but we know they are very social creatures who like to be around other animals. They originate from Central and South America, but they are most popular in Colombia, Ecuador, Nicaragua, North Wet Peru, and Southern Mexico.


If your turtle is left in insufficient lighting and poorly filtered water, it will develop diseases. You will notice the shell of your pet becoming flaky or oddly shaped.

If you are worried about your pet’s health, but their shell seems fine, they could have developed an internal issue, like an ear infection, an infection from a parasite, or a metabolic bone disease. Take them to your nearest vet to identify the problem.

To avoid these issues, make sure you have created the right environment for White-Lipped Mud Turtles through their lighting, diet, and water.

Eye Color

White-Lipped Mud Turtles have black and brown eyes. If their eyes are clean and clear, then it’s a great indicator that they are healthy.


White Lipped Mud Turtles do not hibernate, but you might find them digging or burrowing into the sand in the colder months. 

Can they swim?

White Lipped Mud Turtles love to swim. They are very active reptiles that are constantly moving around. If the water you provide is of good quality, they will spend most of their time swimming and playing. If you notice that your turtle has stopped swimming for a while, then it means your water is not a good standard. Do not wait for your pet to tell you the filter system is bad, as they will likely get ill before they notice.

You need to regularly change the water at least once a week to keep up the quality.

You should use dechlorinated water so there are no contaminants in your pet’s water supply. You should also make sure that there is a suitable air pump under the water to increase the flow and filtration. 


For one adult, you should have a 40-gallon aquatic tank. For two, you will need at least a 55-gallon aquarium. You can keep them in an outdoor pond, but you should bring them inside during cold months.

There should be enough water that the turtles can submerge themselves, but so not much that reaching a surface would be difficult. Ideally, you should include ramps for easy access. 

The temperature of the water should be 70 degrees Fahrenheit or more, so keep an aquarium safe thermometer in the tank to make measuring the temperature easy. 

Adding a heat rock or lamp will help mimic the sun, so your White Lipped Mud Turtle can bask in the sun. You should be aiming for the lamp or heat rock to reach around 90 degrees Fahrenheit.


White-Lipped Mud Turtles can cost anywhere between $50 and $300.

Fun Facts

When White-Lipped Mud Turtles are scared, they will defecate to disgust their predators. This means if you handle your buddy too many times, they will probably poop in your hands.