Musk Turtle Size: How Big Do They Get?

Musk Turtle Size

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

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Do you know why musk turtles have a huge fan base? Is it because of their cute appearance or docile nature? Well, maybe. But the main reason why musk turtles are in demand is their tiny size, which makes the handling easy and hassle-free. So, how big do musk turtles get?

The common musk turtles have an average length of 2 to 5.5 inches ( 5.1 to 14 centimeters). However, some musk turtles can grow up to 7 inches or 18 centimeters.

For healthy growth, musk turtles require the perfect care sheet. In the following article, I will discuss not only the size chart of a musk turtle. But I will also reveal the factors that can unleash the growth potential of the species. Read to the end to find out what your musk turtle lacks to get the desired growth.

How Big Do Musk Turtles Get?

Common musk turtle, Eastern musk turtle or Stinkpot, whatever you call it, is the most known subspecies of musk turtle. However, this species has other subspecies too, and each one has its unique characteristics.

Each subspecies of musk turtle grows into different sizes. The average size range of this species is 2 to 15 inches. Take a look at the chart for more detailed information on musk turtle growth.

Musk turtle size chart:

Musk Turtle Subspecies Average Size Additional Information
Common Musk Turtle/ Eastern Musk Turtle/ Stinkpot2 to 5.5 inches (5.1 to 14 inches)The common musk turtles are tiny and can be born about one inch or less. An adult stinkpot gets around 2 to 5.5 inches big. However, most turtles manage to have a carapace length of 7 inches (18 centimeters).  

Common musk turtle hatchlings are considered the smallest among all North American turtles. Surprisingly, the baby might fit onto your penny.
Mexican Giant Musk Turtle/ Mexican Musk Turtle/ Narrow Bridged Musk Turtle/14 to 15 Inches (36 to 38 centimeters)Apparently, the Mexican musk turtles have the largest carapace among all other musk turtle subspecies. These turtles are native to Mexico, Belize, Honduras, and Guatemala.  

Instead of the tag giant, the Mexican musk turtles are easy to handle. The subspecies make a great pet, and you will have to spend at least $700 to get a large giant musk turtle.  

The interesting part about Mexican giant musk turtles is they are born around 1.5 inches. It means these turtles experience a 10x growth over their lifetime.
Chiapas Giant Musk Turtle6 to 7 inches (15 to 18 centimeters)Musk turtle species has two giant subspecies, and Chiapas giant musk turtles are the smaller ones. The hatchlings are around 1.5 to 2 inches while born.  

Most adult Chiapas giant musk turtles get 6 to 7 inches (15 to 18 centimeters) big. The largest Chiapas musk turtle ever recorded has a carapace length of 10 inches (25.5 centimeters).  

Chiapas giant musk turtles are not much expensive and make excellent pets. With proper housing, diet, and care, most of these turtles can enjoy healthy growth.
Stripe Neck Musk Turtle3 to 4 inches (7.5 to 10 centimeters)Stripe neck musk turtle is the subspecies of loggerhead musk turtle. The keeled carapace with tanned brown or gray has given this subspecies a unique look.  

The stripe neck musk turtles are small, and most adults reach a healthy growth of 3 to 4 inches. However, there are records of stripe neck musk turtles having a carapace length of 4.5 to 4.6 inches. Experts claim that this subspecies can grow up to 5 inches.
Razorback Musk Turtle5 to 6 inches (12 to 15 centimeters)The razor-sharp keels on the central carapace are the most attractive features of razorback musk turtles. A newborn razorback musk turtle is around 0.9 to 1.1 inches and weighs not more than 5 grams.  

These babies grow into 5 to 6 inches in their adulthood. With the best care, razorback musk turtles reach a carapace length of 7 inches (17.6 centimeters).
Loggerhead Musk Turtle3 to 6 inches (7.6 to 15 centimeters)Loggerhead musk turtles are relatively smaller than most other musk turtle species. Generally, the babies are born with a carapace of 1.1 inches or less.  

Loggerhead musk turtles exhibit sex dimorphism. The males are 1/2 centimeters shorter than the females.
Flattened Musk Turtle3 to 4 inches (7.6 to 10 centimeters)Flattened musk turtles are born little (about 1 inch). In adulthood, these turtles get a carapace length of 2.4 to 5 inches.

Factors Affecting The Growth Of A Musk Turtle

Have you ever noticed two musk turtles of the same age can grow into different sizes? What is the secret here? Yes, there are factors that affect a musk turtle’s growth and development. Such as,

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Look at the chart of the previous subsection. See how the size of a musk turtle changes with the subspecies. While a common musk turtle has an average length of 2 to 5.5 inches, a Mexican giant musk turtle gets around 15 inches.


As I said, musk turtles exhibit sex dimorphism. It means the male and female musk turtles have differences in their size and body structure.

In a few subspecies, the male ones may get bigger. But in general, the female turtles have larger carapaces than the males, for example, the loggerhead musk turtle.

Determining the gender of a bred musk turtle is indeed a brilliant idea. However, there are other characteristics that can help you identify the sex of the pet. Such as,

  • Observe the tail thickness or length
  • The color of the pet’s head, eyes, or skin.


Genetics plays a significant role in deciding the size of a musk turtle. It has been observed that some turtles do not reach the average carapace length because of the heredity.

Pet Or Wild

The scientists claim that the pet musk turtles are generally bigger than the wild ones. It is because the captive turtles have all the access to excellent care. But yes, this might not always be true. The pet musk turtles will not have the expected growth if they lack diet or proper housing.

Housing Arrangements

Musk turtles can fight to survive, and I do not deny that. If you put your pet turtle in a smaller habitat with improper equipment, the turtle will live for sure, but not a healthy life. Experts suggest that the living condition of a musk turtle influences its size or carapace length.

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A congested enclosure, filthy water, no heating equipment, etc., stress out the musk turtle. When the surrounding does not match the pet’s requirements, it stops eating healthy. So, eventually, the improper habitat arrangement affects the growth of the musk turtle.

Again, you know the role of UV rays in the musk turtle’s life. The UVA exposures indirectly influence the turtle’s mental health. Similarly, the UVB rays aid in vitamin D3 production, calcium absorbtion, indigestion, etc.

The sun is the natural source of UV exposures in the wild. But in captivity, the owner has to set up an artificial UV bulb to fulfill the purpose. What if there is no UV light in the enclosure? What will happen?

Musk turtles suffer from metabolic bone diseases due to the lack of UV rays. MBD or metabolic bone diseases have severe impacts on pets. It can hamper the desired size growth of the turtles.


Compared to other factors, the diet has the most significant role in the musk turtle’s growth. A baby musk turtle is fragile and vulnerable. When you start feeding it the right diet, the baby will develop a solid immunity and body structure.

Do you know the lack of vitamins can lead to deficiency? Lack of minerals leads to medical complexities, which eventually hamper the growth of the musk turtle.

So, if you are not feeding your turtle a balanced meal, the chances are that the pet will barely reach the average growth range.

There is another thing. Some owners take the diet chart so seriously, and they start overfeeding the pet. Let me warn you. Overfeeding is as bad as underfeeding. The musk turtle will undergo fast growth for sure. But they eventually get trapped into diseases like liver failure or kidney stones.

See also  How To Tell The Age Of A Musk Turtle?


Musk turtles are aquatic, and like most other species, these turtles are exposed to more diseases. They are at the risk of having a bacterial infection, respiratory illness, cold disease, shell rot, vitamin deficiency, etc.

What happens when your pet turtle falls sick? Experts suggest that any severe illness can deduct years from the turtle’s lifespan. Not only that, the disease can surely mess with the healthy growth of the pet.

So, if you do not look after your musk turtle, it may not have the desired carapace growth.

How Big Is A Fully Grown Musk Turtle?

A fully grown musk turtle can be around 2 to 15 inches depending on the subspecies. Generally, the musk turtles experience the fastest growth in the first year.

From the second year, the growth carve hits a bump and gets slower. Most musk turtles stop showing any growth once they gain sexual maturity.

If you look at the growth chart of a common musk turtle, the hatchling is born with a carapace length of less than 1 inch. Within 6 months, the babies grow into 2 inches.

In most cases, the musk turtles show a fast growth of 3 to 5 inches at the end of the first year. When these pets turn 2, they have a carapace of around 6 to 7 inches.

Of course, not all common musk turtles share the same growth. Why? I have already discussed the factors that might influence the desired body development of a pet turtle.

Do Male Or Female Musk Turtles Get Bigger?

In general, female musk turtles are bigger than males. Though the size difference is hard to spot, experts claim that males are at least 1 inch shorter. However, in a few subspecies, the males might be a little larger than the females.

If you are trying to determine the gender of the musk turtle, do not totally rely on the size difference. Instead, look for the other sex dimorphic characteristics these creatures show. Such as,

  • The male musk turtles have rough, scaly patches on their rear legs.
  • Compared to females, the male musk turtles have longer and thicker tails.

Do you know how to tell the age of a musk turtle? Find out here.

How To Ensure The Healthy Growth Of A Musk Turtle?

A solid care sheet is the only thing that ensures the healthy growth of any turtle. If you want your pet musk turtle to have healthy body development, you need to focus on how to treat the pet. Here are some tips that might be helpful to you,

  • Common musk turtles do not grow more than 7 inches. Do not let their tiny appearance fool you. The turtles still need a spacious tank. A 20 to 30-gallon aquarium provides enough space for an adult stinkpot. You might have to increase the tank size if you house multiple turtles or raise another musk turtle species.
  • Proper housing arrangement is necessary to avoid diseases. Also, the supplies help the musk turtles to stay calm and unleash their full growth potential. Required equipment are a basking dock, water filter, tank heater, heating lamp, UV light, etc.
  • Musk turtles are omnivorous, which means they eat both plant and animal matter. Add snails, small fishes, insects, worms, kale, collard, green leafy vegetables, etc. Sprinkle calcium and vitamin D3 supplements on each meal. A balanced diet allows a musk turtle to grow healthy. Also, it expands the musk turtle’s lifespan.
  • Diseases hamper the growth of a musk turtle. So, as an owner, you should take every precaution possible to keep the pet away from any sickness. Even if the musk turtle falls sick, go to a vet immediately. Besides, take the pet to an expert for a once or twice a year health check-up.

Here is a deal. Even if you ensure everything, do not expect your musk turtle to have the growth you want. I have already mentioned that sometimes heredity plays a huge role in the size of a musk turtle.

If you feel your musk turtle does not have healthy growth, consult a vet. As long as the pet is eating right, there is nothing to worry. Also, musk turtles show slow carapace development that is hard to observe.


A musk turtle can get anywhere in the range of 2 to 15 inches. The growth of the turtle depends on several factors. In captivity, it is in your hand to provide the turtle with the best care possible. It is because a musk turtle with the right diet and housing usually grows to its full potential.

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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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