How To Take Care Of Mud Turtles | Foolproof Care Sheet

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

Taking care of mud turtles can be tricky and demands experience. Hence, this species is not the best option when just getting into turtles. If you are an intermediate keeper, you will definitely manage to raise these turtles without any hassle. Here is the brief on how to take care of mud turtles,

Housing: 50 – 100 gallon tank, basking dock, UV light, heating lamp, water filter, tank heater

Basking Temperature: 85 – 92° F

Water Temperature: 74 – 78° F

Air Temperature: 78 – 82° F

Food Habit: Fish, shrimp, snail, worm, insect, lettuce, green leaf, apple, pellets, supplements

Catch all the details on the foolproof mud turtle care sheet in the following write up.

Mud Turtle: Species Profile

Let’s start this care sheet with the basic intro of the mud turtles.

These little turtles have a habit of settling into the muddy bottom of water sources. Hence, the species has been tagged as mud turtles.

The semi-terrestrial mud turtles have several subspecies under their name. Four well-recognized subspecies are,

  • Eastern mud turtle
  • Striped mud turtle
  • Mississippi mud turtle
  • Yellow mud turtle

Other mud turtle subspecies are,

  • Red-cheeked mud turtle
  • African dwarf mud turtle
  • White-lipped mud turtle
  • Oaxaca mud turtle
  • Tabasco mud turtle
  • Sonora mud turtle
  • Dunn’s mud turtle
  • Sonora mud turtle

From the names, it is clear that each subspecies has been categorized depending on their physical appearances and native habitat.

Mud Turtle Appearance: How Do Mud Turtles Look?

The physical characteristics and appearances of mud turtles vary from subspecies to subspecies. For instance, the eastern mud turtles have a keel-less, smooth olive to the brown carapace.

On the contrary, the yellow mud turtles have the same colour top shell with additional yellow stripes on the neck, throat, and head. Also, the carapace of these turtles is not domes.

Furthermore, the adult mud turtles get double hinges in their plastron, whereas the babies have plain bottom shells. Mud turtle plastron can be yellowish or brownish with dark patterns. Moreover, the yellow eyes of these mud turtles with dark clouding can be really captivating.

Apart from these, mud turtles carry specific characteristics on their bodies too. For example, you will notice grey shades on their limbs and tails. Also, there are yellow or dark brown patches on their throat and chin.

Mud Turtle Care For Beginners: Infographic

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Mud Turtle Habitat: Where Do Mud Turtles Live?

Native habitats of mud turtles are the United States, Central America, North America, South America, Mexico, etc. You will find this species in Florida, Texas, New York, Georgia, South Carolina, and other neighbouring states in the USA.

The home of mud turtles varies depending on their subspecies. For example, the eastern mud turtles are available in the range from Texas to New York. But, again, the Oaxaca mud turtles are native to Mexico.

Mud turtles prefer relatively fresh but muddy water sources. Canals, ponds, swamps, and other slow-moving streams are perfect homes for these creatures.

Mud turtles are semi-aquatic and spend their time on both land and water. They enjoy foraging, burrowing in wet leaves, and walking in the muddy bottom of the ponds. Any turtle keeper should consider these requirements while building homes for mud turtles.

Mud Turtle Size: How Big Do Mud Turtles Get?

Mud turtles do not grow more than 3 – 6 inches. 4 – 5 inches are the average size range of most adult mud turtles. Tiny and adorable size is one of the reasons why this species is always in demand.

The sizes of mud turtles depend on their subspecies. For example, the average growth of eastern mud turtles is 3 – 4 inches. However, the Okavango mud turtles are considered the largest mud turtle species globally.

Generally, the mud turtles exhibit sexual dimorphism. In most cases, the males have a larger carapace growth than the females. They also have bigger heads and thicker tails. Moreover, the male mud turtle tails have a bone-like spine at the tip. Lastly, while the male legs are rough and scaly on the inside, the female ones are smooth.

Mud Turtle Lifespan: How Long Do Mud Turtles Live?

Mud turtles have a lifespan of up to 50 years, attaining sexual maturity between 4 to 7 years. However, the longevity of these turtles depends on their subspecies, diet, surrounding, health condition, and available care.

Eastern mud turtles live 20 – 40 years on average in a captive enclosure. On the other hand, the West African Mud turtles live more than 50 years if cared for properly. Similarly, the three-striped mud turtles have a life expectancy of 30 – 40 years and yellow mud turtles for 40 years.

Apart from the subspecies, the care level and surroundings play significant roles in deciding the longevity of the turtles. These are why pet turtles live longer than wild ones.

It is evident that the captive turtles get daily meals, live in a hygienic environment, and have quick medical access. On the contrary, the wild mud turtles survive at the mercy of nature. Hence, their average lifespan is 15 – 20 years.

How To Take Care Of Mud Turtles?

Preparing the care sheet will become easier as now you are familiar with the basics of mud turtles. As I always say, you can not improve your connection with the pet without peeking into its lifestyle.

The habit of mud turtles clearly indicates that the species require space, well-arranged surroundings, and proper attention. The pets also need a balanced, scheduled diet and emergency medical care.

Let’s start with the minimum habitat size for these turtles.

Mud Turtle Tank Size

A young mud turtle can move freely in a 40-gallon aquarium. However, it will be best to place the turtle in a 50 – 100 gallon tank as soon as it becomes an adult. Again, the mud turtle hatchling requires minimum space, about 20-gallon.

While you can house a baby mud turtle in a small plastic tub, the strategy will not follow for the young and adult turtles. Many keepers follow the 10-gallon rule. It instructs increasing the tank size by 10 gallons for 1 inch of turtle carapace growth.

Again, you can customize the turtle enclosure instead of buying a commercial one. In that case, make sure to spare 6 inches of floor space against 1 inch of carapace growth of the pet. Therefore, for a 5 inches mud turtle, you will need a tank with a minimum of 30 inches floor.

Moreover, you have to manage a spacious aquarium if you plan to house more than two turtles in a single enclosure. Otherwise, get ready for a nasty turtle fight.

Mud turtles can also adapt to an outside enclosure. The koi ponds are always suitable for these turtles as an outdoor home.

What Should I Put In My Mud Turtle Tank?

Mud turtles of any age or subspecies must have the following things in their tanks,

  • Basking Dock
  • Lighting Arrangements
  • Water Filter
  • Tank Heater
  • Substrate (Optional)
  • Decoration (Optional)

Each of these supplies has something to add to the mud turtles’ health and comfort. Missing any equipment might cause the pets to lead a poor and disturbing lifestyle. The following sections will help you understand the significance of a well-decorated mud turtle tank.

Basking Dock: Do Mud Turtles Bask?

Mud turtles rarely bask and feel comfortable spending time at the bottom of the pond or walking on the land. You will hardly catch these turtles soaking heat under any source. Yet, building a basking dock in the enclosure is mandatory for health concerns.

The proportion between the land and water should be a balance. For instance, the dock should only cover one-third of the enclosure, not more than it.

Professionals mostly build double-decker habitats for the mud turtles, considering their basking preference. In this model, you have to install a second tank solely for basking or burrowing purposes and set it up atop the water surface. A rampage is a must for these housings too.

However, a commercial dock will also work if you do not get into the fancy double-decker model. Here you will find the budget-friendly basking stations available. Or you can DIY the platform using logs, metal sheets, foams, ceramics, and other sources.

Make sure the basking station does not get wet and can carry the turtle weight. Also, it will help if you eliminate any sharp edges of the dock as the pet gets injured with those ends.

Lastly, there should be a ramp connecting the platform to the water. Otherwise, the mud turtles will struggle to get on the dock as turtles can not really jump.

Lighting Arrangements

Any mud turtle enclosure has basic lighting demands for heat and UV rays. In the wild and in an outdoor habitat, the sun fulfills these requirements.

However, you must ensure the enclosure never gets cold in an indoor setup and the pets receive sufficient UV rays. Otherwise, your little mud turtles will face health complexities.

Like all other species, mud turtles can not endure cold weather. They tend to slow down their metabolism and other activities if the temperature drops. And, of course, the cold makes the turtles vulnerable and exposed to diseases. However, any heat source can reverse the process and let the creatures continue their usual life routine.

Generally, reptile bulbs come in handy, providing warmth to the mud turtles. These lights are proven effective and can be a replacement for the sun heat in an indoor enclosure.

Again, the UV rays serve a different purpose in the mud turtles’ life. Studies have proven that turtle activity rate, mental state, digestive system, and even growth are linked to UV exposures.

While the UVA rays aid in keeping the turtles mentally stable, UVB exposures work on building a solid body structure. You know calcium is the vital mineral in any turtle diet, promoting healthy bone and shell density. But the absorption of calcium is impossible without enough vitamin D3.

Unfortunately, vitamin D3 in the food sources is not enough for sufficient calcium absorption. Hence, the UVB to sun rays help the turtles produce this vitamin in their body and keep the calcium balance.

The mud turtles will suffer from metabolic bone disease and immature carapace growth without any UV source in the habitat. Nevertheless, several researchers have even indicated that UV light insufficiency can cause death to newly born babies.

Generally, the heating lamp and UV bulbs come in two different setups. Some brands have launched compact lights that serve both purposes.

You should go for the best, no matter which type of arrangements you choose. Compromising qualities to save a few pennies is not worthy. In any confusion, do check my previous write up on how to select basking lights for mud turtles.

Tank Heater: Do Mud Turtles Need A Tank Heater?

Heating the land and air is not enough to keep the mud turtle metabolism on track. These creatures prefer swimming moreover spending time on the dock. Hence, a heat source is mandatory to keep the turtles warm even in water.

A tank heater can be an excellent way to heat water and make swimming cosier for the mud turtles. On the contrary, cold water will only make these turtles stick and increase the risk of infectious diseases. Moreover, there is always a chance of unprepared hibernation due to the chilly temperature. Therefore, installing a heater seems a wiser decision in the long run.

The tank heaters do not come in a universal size. You have to purchase measuring the aquarium water capacity. For example, you will need a 75-watt, 150-watt, and 300-watt heater for a 20 gallon, 40 gallons, and 75-gallon tank.

You can try out different model tank heaters for your mud turtles. Here are my top picks of water heaters I have been using for my pets.

Mud Turtle Water Temperature

The suitable water temperature for mud turtles ranges between 74 – 78 degrees Fahrenheit. Similarly, the ambient temperature should be around 78 – 82 degrees Fahrenheit. The basking temperature is slightly higher, between 85 – 92 degrees Fahrenheit.

The appropriate temperature has a vital role in the mud turtles’ growth and well being. On the one hand, it helps them stay fit and build strong immunity. On another, it boosts their growth. If the temperature drops, the pets will face complexities even by a few degrees.

While the advanced tank heaters can maintain the commanded temperature, the analogue ones often fail to serve accurately. Those devices might break down, raise or drop the water temperature. Therefore, the professionals suggest installing a thermometer in the enclosure. This tool also comes in handy in tracking the air and basking temperature.

Water Filter: Do Mud Turtles Need A Water Filter?

Mud turtles spend most of their time in the water, swimming or walking at the bottom. Hence, the water quality matters the most to them. Maintaining water hygiene is a demanding and laborious job. Therefore, installing a filtering device is the most convenient in such a situation.

Mud turtles perform most of their activities in the water, including pooping and eating. The urine and poop can deteriorate the tank environment. Again, the foodscapes from meals also make the aquarium stinky. These wastes are also responsible for cloudy and smelly tank water.

Dirty water entices bacterial growth and exposes the turtles to infectious diseases. Not only that. Such a filthy environment also increases the risks of parasite attack. As a result, the pet mud turtles suffer from more diseases and become vulnerable.

Any severe sickness can hamper the healthy growth of turtles and deduct years from their lifespan. Maintaining hygiene is the only way to save your pets from these undesired events.

The canister filters are the perfect devices designed and built for reptile and fish tanks. These filters take in the dirty water, trap the wastes, and recirculate the freshwater.

Budget can be a concern while installing a canister filter for your pets. I have screened out the best budget water filters for mud turtles and come up with the top 3,

  • Fluval FX6
  • Fluval 407
  • Penn Plax Cascade 1500

You can make your list. But first, go through this buying guide on choosing water filters for mud turtles.

One more thing. Do not get entirely dependent on the water filters. Your turtle enclosure requires a throughput cleaning at least once a month. Besides, you have to replace 25% of tank water with fresh water weekly.

Experts suggest that mud turtles do just fine in tap water. However, sometimes you might have to use a conditioner if the water has excess ammonia, chlorine or any other harmful contents.

Substrate: Do Mud Turtles Need Substrate?

Though mud turtles love a muddy enclosure, they can live in a bare-bottomed tank without complaining. Hence, these creatures do not mandatorily need a substrate.

Muddy substrates degrade water quality by trapping wastes and maintaining hygiene gets more challenging. For such reasons, professionals advise keeping the bare bottom in the tank unless you plan to add live plants.

As you see, the substrate has no essential value in a mud turtle tank. But it can add aesthetics to the enclosure.

Layering up the tank bottom with medium-sized, colourful gravel makes the aquarium more appealing by improving its appearance. Moreover, the mud turtles also love playing on these gravels.


Now that you have put all the essentials in the tank, you can spare some room for decorations. For instance, hiding spots, rocks, stones, plants, etc.

Live plants are an excellent addition to the mud turtle tanks. These improve the aesthetic, appearance, and functionality of the terrarium.

Not only that. The live plants participate in water filtration and are a source of oxygen in the water. Mud turtles often use the leaves as hiding spots and snacks.

Taking care of plants and turtles together is not tea for everyone. Therefore, plastic aquatic plants are a better choice for them.

Yet, if you insist on adding live plants to the enclosure, know your job first. It will help if you carry a clear idea of the herb species. Mud turtles will munch over the leaves for sure, and any trace of toxicity can harm the pets. Here are some safe plant options for mud turtles and a brief care sheet on each one.

How Do You Set Up A Mud Turtle Tank?

Mud turtles require a spacious tank with a basking spot, tank filter, heater, and proper lighting. The dock should not cover more than one-third of the enclosure, and bulbs need to be at least one foot away from this station. Moreover, the in-house heater and filter must be installed, maintaining the safety guidelines.

The required tank sizes for a baby, young, and adult mud turtle are 20-gallon, 40-gallon, and 100-gallon, respectively. Setting up all the essentials in this limited space is not that hard. You have to ensure that you are not overcrowding the enclosure.

Here is how I usually set up my mud turtle tank,

Everyone has his method of decorating the turtle habitat. I always start with layering up the bottom with a substrate. You can use a thick sand layer, peat, or sphagnum moss as the base layer.

Mud turtles do just fine even without a substrate, but the name itself suggests the love for muddy bottoms of this species. However, the tank water often gets cloudy because of the substrate and requires a more powerful filter to maintain the hygiene.

Next, I install the dock. Commercial platforms come in a complete package and are a safe choice. However, the curvy logs and big rocks add a forest and wild vibe to the habitat.

I prefer attaching another small box to the existing tank and decorating it with substrate and small pebbles to provide a land-like touch. The primary habitat works as the water body and the attachment as the dock and land. Make sure the mud turtles can access those dry stations in any setup.

Heating bulbs should be set, keeping the dock in focus. Here is the ideal distance chart between the lights and the basking station,

Heating Lamp,

Heating Lamp WattageDistance Between Dock And Heating Lamp
50 watt6 – 8 inches
75 watt7 – 9 inches
100 watt9 – 11 inches
100 watt++11 – 14 inches

UV Lamp,

UV Bulb WattageDistance Between UV And Dock
2.5% UV12 inches
5% UV18 inches

Remember, maintaining the distance is mandatory. Otherwise, the proper heat distribution gets interrupted and harms the turtles.

Later, you can add the tank heater and water filter to the enclosure. Ensure that those devices are properly sealed and do not electrify the pets.

Finally, use decorations to give the habitat an appealing and aesthetic look. Finally, pour fresh tap water and let it settle for a few days. In the beginning, the water will look cloudy but will become crystal clear once the bacterial colony kicks start the growth. Keep the tank devices on during the whole time,

If you plan to get live plants in the tank, do that after adding water. Otherwise, the plants will dry out and die.

Place your pet mud turtle in the habitat once the water settles. The turtle will take a day or two to adapt to the new home.

What Do Mud Turtle Eat?

Mud turtles are omnivores as they eat both animal and plant matter. Their diet mainly includes worms, insects, fishes, snails, and pellets with green leafy veggies. Apart from these traditional items, these pets can eat fruits and canned food.

In short, these are the standard items in a mud turtle meal,

  • Animal protein
  • Vegetables
  • Fruits
  • Commercial food
  • Supplement

The food preferences of mud turtles change with their growing age. Before getting into specific food habits, let’s take a look at the available meal options for these turtles,

Animal Protein

  • Worm
  • Cricket
  • Grasshopper
  • Dubia roaches
  • Earthworm
  • Silkworm
  • Redoworm
  • Bloodworm
  • Flies
  • Fog
  • Insect
  • Carrion
  • Clam
  • Intervertebral
  • Cruces
  • Fish
  • Crayfish
  • Guppy
  • Tadpole
  • Mollusk
  • Minnows
  • Shrimp
  • Kill
  • Snail
  • Quail eggs

The protein in animal matter helps the mud turtles build a solid bone and shell structure. The turtles prey on fish or other insects in the wild to fulfill their protein requirements.


  • Parsley
  • Collard greens
  • Dandelion green
  • Duckweed
  • Eelgrass
  • Endive
  • Algae
  • Kale
  • Pond lily
  • Red leaf lettuce
  • Romaine lettuce
  • Green lettuce
  • Water lettuce
  • Water hyacinth

Mud turtles are not a fan of green veggies. Yet, this item is a must-add in the meals due to its nutritional value. Vegetables contain essential vitamins and minerals that boost the turtles’ immunity and prevent potential diseases.


  • Apple
  • Pear
  • Berries
  • Melons

Mud turtles love munching on fruits. But unfortunately, fruits are not something you can feed your pets every day. This item is high in sugar, which can harm the turtles. Instead, add this treat once a week to bring a change in the turtle palette.

Commercial Food

  • Pellets
  • Canned item
  • Frozen shrimp
  • Frozen fish

Pellets are almost a staple food in the mud turtles’ diet. Though this item is safe for pets, experts suggest keeping the percentage lower than 45 – 50%. Fill the rest with insects, worms, fish, and veggies. If you can not manage fresh items, canned food like frozen shrimp and dried fish will satisfy your pet.


  • Calcium
  • Multivitamin
  • Vitamin D3

Mud turtles can not absorb all the nutrition from the diet. As a result, there is always a risk of vitamin deficiency, low immunity, and poor growth. Adding supplements to the meals can eliminate such undesired outcomes.

Mud Turtle Food To Avoid

Mud turtles are opportunistic feeders and eat almost anything you offer them. But let me warn you. Such unhealthy food habits are a curse for these creatures.

There are specific food categories that do not go along with mud turtles. Even though your pets might devour those tempting items, they will vomit or have diarrhoea. Here are the foods you should keep away from your mud turtles,

  • Sugar candy
  • Dairy items, bakery, yogurt
  • High fat
  • Burgers, hot dogs, or fast foods
  • Processed foods like sausage
  • Deep-fried items
  • Dog food

What Do Baby Mud Turtles Eat?

Baby mud turtles are considered carnivores due to their preference for animal protein over vegetables. Insects, small fish, worms, and pellets are primarily included in their diet. Besides, sprinkling supplements over every meal and a fruity treat are expected food practices for mud turtle hatchlings.

Baby turtles require more nutrition for growth and building an immunity system. Improper meal charts can cause a mineral deficiency in the hatchlings, hampering their desired development. For these reasons, experts advise feeding the babies a balanced diet every day for the first 6 months.

Mud turtles are most hungry during the early morning and evening. Thus, offer them food at those hours, and they will eat without complaining.

The hatchlings prefer meat, and forcing them to eat vegetables is not good. They will grow a taste bud for veggies as they grow old.

Apart from animal protein, the babies love feasting on fruits. But of course, you can not let them get full-on fruits because of the high sugar content and minimum nutritional values.

Whatever you offer your baby mud turtles, sprinkle calcium supplements thrice a week. Again, add a multivitamin once a week for the maximum result.

What Do Juvenile Mud Turtles Eat?

Mud turtles over 6 months have to adjust to a new feeding schedule. Professionals say this is the right time to introduce vegetables in their meaty meals. The ideal routine stands as pellets or animal protein every other day and vegetables every day.

The young turtles might show no interest in vegetables. You have to apply tricks to feed them greens in such a situation. Experts advise keeping the turtles hungry, and then they will eat whatever you offer them. Also, experimenting with different veggies helps you understand their taste and preferences.

Excluding these traditional meals, try feeding your mud turtles live insects or fish. Preying in a captive habitat can stimulate their wild instincts and keep them motivated.

And yes, do not forget to supplement the meals. The ideal supplementation rule is the same for the juveniles as it is for the babies.

What Do Adult Mud Turtles Eat?

The adult mud turtles grow an appetite for both animal protein and vegetables. Hence, their meals show the perfect balance between these two items.

Apart from the change in taste, you will notice a different feeding pattern in the adult mud turtles. They get into a thrice-a-week meal routine because of less appetite.

Adult turtles do not require as much nutrition as babies and young. They are already grown and have a stable immunity system. Yet, you can not compromise their food quality. You have to feed a balanced diet that includes fish, worms, snails, insects, vegetables, green leaves, and pellets with proper supplements.

How Much To Feed A Mud Turtle?

Overfeeding is a curse for anyone, including mud turtles. Eating more than necessary leads to pyramiding, obesity, kidney stones, and liver failure. Therefore, it is mandatory to know how much to feed the pet.

I usually recommend two methods to determine the meal quantity for mud turtles,

  1. The 15-minute rule
  2. The head method

The 15-minute rule:

Offer the mud turtles more than enough food in their feeding spot. Wait for 15 – 20 minutes before removing the leftovers from the enclosure. Experts suggest turtles have a full tummy in 15 minutes if they eat even at leisure. So, with this rule, you are not overfeeding the turtles but providing them just as much as they need.

The head method:

Take a container about the size of the mud turtle head if it were empty. Then fill it up with the food items, and there it is! Your turtle meal is ready. However, you have to keep updating the bowl size as the mud turtles grow fast.

Mud Turtle Health Issues And Treatment

Exposure to an unhygienic environment and living on an off-track diet will make any animal sick. Well, mud turtles are no exception. Any imbalance in the lifestyle will make these little turtles suffer.

Here are the potential health issues of mud turtles,

Vitamin A Deficiency

An inadequate diet is primarily responsible for hypovitaminosis or vitamin A deficiency in mud turtles. Lack of vitamin A makes the turtles more susceptible to infection and rottings. Also, the pets suffer from swollen, puffy eyes, sneezing, wheezing, trouble to breathe, etc.

Feeding the mud turtles vitamin A rich food is the only way to prevent and treat hypovitaminosis. Besides, vets might suggest shots and antibiotics cure the condition.

Respiratory Infection

Untreated hypovitaminosis can turn into respiratory illness. Lack of vitamin A can weaken the immunity system of the turtles and make them more vulnerable to infections. A bacterial attack on the lung leads to respiratory disease in such a case. Prolonged respiratory issues often get severe and raise the risk of pneumonia.

The red flags for respiratory illness are mucus coming out of the mouth, runny nose, puffy eyes, lethargy, appetite loss, weight loss, sneezing, wheezing, and trouble breathing. Owners should take immediate steps to recover the pets as this condition can permanently damage the turtles.

Usually, maintaining a hygienic environment and suitable temperature in the enclosure helps the sick turtles. Besides, the vet’s guidelines and instructions are a must follow.

Shell Rot

Aquatic turtles are most vulnerable to shell infections. It all starts with a small cut. Bacteria or fungus make their way into the turtle shell via any scratch and outgrow their population.

Soon, the scutes start looking discoloured and full of slimy fluids. A rotten shell can spread off a foul odour, and the scutes might fall off in worse conditions.

Shell rot is curable at home in the primary stages. Besides keeping the pets in a warm enclosure, you can wipe the wounds with antibacterial and antibiotic solutions. But in severe cases, an expert’s advice is mandatory.

Mud turtles fall victim to many other shell diseases. For example, shell shedding, white patches, red spots, etc. Check this article to find out all mud turtle shell conditions and their possible home treatments.

Eye Issue

You can not simply ignore the eye issues a mud turtle might suffer. Eyes are sensitive, and so is their health. The late treatment can even make the turtles blind.

The probable eye issues for mud turtles are,

  • Shut eyes
  • Puffy eyes
  • Swollen eyes
  • Eye rot
  • Bloody eye
  • Eye infection
  • Sunken eyes, etc.

As I said, eyes are sensible. So, home treatment is not the best option here.

You must take your pet to the vet and follow his suggestion. If you want to catch more details on the eye problems of mud turtles, feel free to go through the attached article.


Overfeeding is solely responsible for obesity in turtles. The necks and legs of the pets are fattened up because of obesity, hampering their daily activities. Besides, this condition increases the risk of liver failure and kidney stones.

Again, overfeeding of protein leads to pyramiding in mud turtles. The poor creatures will have bumpy and irregular shaped scutes.

In both conditions, keeping an eye on the turtle diet is mandatory. Follow the feeding schedule strictly, and do not let your turtles convince you to overfeed.

Metabolic Bone Disease

MBD or metabolic bone disease results from vitamin D and calcium lackings in mud turtles. Basically, a low-quality UV bulb induces this condition in these creatures.

Insufficient UV rays mean low vitamin D3 production and low calcium absorption. Therefore, the turtles can not develop a healthy bone or shell structure and eventually suffer from MBD.

In mud turtles, lumps in the bone or spine, trouble walking, deformed shell, etc., are signs of bone disease. Usually, proper lighting setup and a balanced diet prevent and cure this condition. However, in severe cases, you have to seek help from the vet.

Mud Turtle Behavior And Temperament: Do Mud Turtles Bite?

Do not think of your mud turtles anywhere near docile or social. In reality, these little creatures carry an attitude and choose a solitary life.

As mud turtles are not fond of socialization, human interaction or touch stresses them quickly. In response to anxiety or nervousness, these turtles might bite the opponent.

Mud turtles are small-sized but have powerful bites. They need no teeth to sting, and their curvy beaks are enough. Mud turtle bitings might not be as painful as the snapping turtles’. Yet, it will leave a bloody bruise behind.

This species also adapted other defence mechanisms to save themselves. For example, like the musk turtles, they secrete a foul, musky odour to blind the predator.

Considering all these, you might question the credibility of mud turtles as pets. But let me clear the air. Mud turtles make an excellent pet as long as you fulfil their requirements.

These turtles need minimum attention and handling. Even when you touch the pets, be gentle and considerate.

So think about it.

Mud turtles have a petite size, considerable lifespan, and do not demand extensive care. The species has all the qualities we look for in a pet.

What Can Live With A Mud Turtle?

Mud turtles are anything but not social creatures. These turtles prefer living alone, and housing them with the same or another species might backfire sometimes. But with proper tricks, you can make your turtles get along.

Generally, adult male mud turtles tend to get involved in a fight among themselves and with others. They exhibit their dominance over the females and young turtles, leading to a mess. Therefore, it is wiser not to house multiple adult males, adult male-female, or adult male-baby pairs.

However, the mud turtle male-female pairing might work if the turtles are compatible. You can experiment with different pairs until you get the perfect one standing.

While the adult males are at the root of fighting, the babies or female mud turtles get along. Thus you can put the females and young turtles in a single enclosure.

Considering the grumpy nature, you might wonder whether the mud turtles can live with other species or not. See, mud turtles are bottom dwellers and very sensitive about their territory.

So, if you put a basking species with these turtles, they will share the habitat without any hassle. Usually, red-eared sliders, cooters, painted turtles, map turtles, etc., cohabitate with mud turtles.

In any of the scenarios above, you can minimize the risk of fighting. All you have to do is manage a spacious enclosure, provide large basking spots, feed them enough food, and build enough visual barriers. Here are more tricks on making your turtles get along with each other.

How To Choose A Mud Turtle?

What exactly do you look for when shopping for a mud turtle? Experts suggest that a faulty selection process leads to bringing a sick turtle home. In most cases, the diseased pets can not make it alive due to the new environment and their vulnerability.

Hence, you have to be careful when choosing a mud turtle. First, look at the carapace and ensure the scutes are not discoloured or bumpy.

Next, the pet should have crystal clear eyes. Fuzzy or cloudy eyes often indicate diseases. Then, observe the skin closely to see any sign of irritation.

If the mud turtle looks healthy, you can continue the purchasing procedure.

Mud turtles can be a bit pricey, especially the exclusive ones. The popular and common mud turtle subspecies are available at $25 – $50.

Look for well-reputed pet stores or breeders to collect your mud turtle. Nowadays, online platforms have started selling turtles that you can definitely check. Again, you can search for mud turtle adoption and foster the pet.


Mud turtles are lovely pets. The species have several subspecies, each with distinguishing characteristics. You can welcome these creatures home once you gain the minimum expertise in handling turtles. Never compromise with the care sheet of a pet after bringing one home. If you face any trouble, feel free to consult a vet.

About Author

Muntaseer Rahman started keeping pet turtles back in 2013. He also owns the largest Turtle & Tortoise Facebook community in Bangladesh. These days he is mostly active on Facebook.


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