Mud turtles are popular pets because they need little maintenance. They are little and eat everything. They are known as mud turtles because they like muddy habitats like short-term ponds. and they’re all found only in North America.
Lots of species of turtles belong to the genus Mud turtle. Several species of mud turtles are kept as pets, but the eastern mud turtle, the striped mud turtle, the yellow mud turtle, and the Mississippi mud turtle are the most frequent.
Small in size and diet variety, mud turtles are found in sandy, damp, and muddy habitats. They may be maintained comfortably in either an indoor or outdoor setting, and make wonderful pets.
In this article, I will describe 6 species of mud turtles, including what kind of habitat they like best, what kind of food they consume, and what kind of appearance each exhibits.
If you want to learn more about these 6 mud turtles, keep reading.
In the family Kinosternidae, the genus Kinosternon contains around 18 species of semiterrestrial freshwater turtles.
The mud turtle’s range spans the whole continent, from New England to northern Argentina. Similar to the closely related musk turtles (Sternotherus), these turtles have fleshy barbels on their chin and may release a strong, musky odor.
These reptiles have a hinged part of their bottom shell that is broader than the rest of the shell. Certain kinds of turtles have hinged shells that may be raised to shield the animal’s face, neck, and legs.
Mud turtles may be found in a wide variety of environments, from pristine brooks in the forest to sporadic ponds in the desert.
Despite spending much of their time in the water, most of these animals are poor swimmers and prefer to wander around the bottoms of wetlands and streams.
Some species, like the striped mud turtle (K. baurii), are able to make it through dry spells by entering estivation (dormancy) under a thin layer of mud.
Even though they may eat a wide variety of plant and animal matter, mud turtles are more interested in animal stuff, such as insects, worms, and even fish eggs.
Clutch sizes in mud turtles range from a single egg to well over a dozen, based on the size and healthiness of the female.
|Scientific Name||Kinosternon spp.|
|Average Adult Size||3 to 5 inches|
|Lifespan||30 to 50 years|
|Clutch Size||4 to 6 eggs|
|Egg Incubation Period||2 to 3 months|
|Food||Aquatic turtle food|
|Tank Size||25 gallons|
|Average Price Range||$6 to $40|
The distinct mud turtle subspecies have many similar qualities despite their unique traits. As a result, there may be some redundancy in the data on several mud turtle species.
1. Red-cheeked Mud Turtle
|Scientific name||Kinosternon Scorpioides Cruentatum|
|Size and weight||Up to 7 inches|
|Lifespan||Between 30 and 50 years|
|Diet||Carnivorous – mollusks, carrion, and freshwater fish|
|Conservation status||Least Concern|
Red-cheeked Mud turtles are easy to care for and originate in South America. Similar to other Mud turtles, they are mostly carnivorous and need a fairly typical aquarium.
A red-cheeked mud turtle, with its smooth, domed, dark brown shell. The undersides of these critters are covered with vivid orange plastrons. Their faces have a similar orange and red coloring, with black patches.
Neither the scutes nor the keels of their shells are serrated. Males may be identified by their longer, thicker tails that end in a horn. They are also somewhat bigger than females.
Typically, the Red-cheeked Mud turtle prefers warmer waters like lakes and rivers with sandy or silty bottoms as its habitat.
Most of their time will be spent submerged, however they may sometimes emerge for air.
Carnivorous by nature, red-cheeked mud turtles eat a wide variety of prey including tiny freshwater fish, crabs, mollusks, and amphibians. They have an insatiable hunger and may even feast on dead animals.
2. Eastern Mud Turtle
|Scientific name||Kinosternon subrubrum|
|Other names||Common Mud turtle|
|Adult Female Size||3 to 4 inches|
|Adult Male Size||3 to 5 inches|
|Lifespan||Up to 50 years|
|Average Price Range||$40 to $100|
On the forest floor, an eastern mud turtle (Kinosternon subrubrum), also called a common mud turtle, with its legs tucked within its shell.
Due to their poor swimming abilities, eastern mud turtles often stroll around the riverbeds or enclosures’ floors.
Similar to Scent turtles, Eastern Mud turtles have the ability to create a pungent protective skunk if they feel intimidated.
Eastern Mud Turtles will dig into some mud to hibernate during the winter months. If their backyard pond empties, they will do this often.
The smooth, oval carapaces of eastern mud turtles come in a variety of colors, including brown, green, and yellow.
Their shells are undecorated, incline slightly in the front but descend sharply in the rear and sides, and lack any discernible markings.
Their dark gray skin is often covered with mottled patterning, and they have bigger brown or yellowish-brown plastrons.
The eastern mud turtle is a native of the southern United States. Eastern Mud turtles live in bogs, ponds, and other wetland areas with a lot of aquatic plants and low, slow-moving waters.
They have excellent concealment from predators when hunting their prey because of this. Moreover, they need clean water.
The majority of the tiny fish and mollusks that Eastern Mud Turtles consume are small fish. They sometimes consume aquatic plants as well, although their diet is mostly carnivorous.
3. Mississippi Mud Turtle
One of the two subspecies of Eastern mud turtles is the Mississippi mud turtle (Kinosternon subrubrum).
The edges of ponds and lakes are home to many Mississippi mud turtles. These mud turtles dislike soaking up the sun.
They like moving about, especially after a downpour. During the spring and summer, you’ll probably encounter these turtles crossing roadways and highways.
During the winter, these turtles burrow under the muck at the bottom of their habitat.
A juvenile Mississippi mud turtle can’t swim well. Owners of pets must thus carefully monitor the water level in their tank.
Mississippi mud turtles are tiny and black in color. Some have light tan stripes instead of yellow ones, while others have yellow stripes going along the sides of their neck and head.
There are no markings on the top shell, which is dark brown or black in color. Typically, the bottom shell is yellow including some brown coloring.
Comparatively speaking to other turtles, their plastron is bigger. An anterior and a posterior hinge are present.
Unlike their forefeet, their rear feet are webbed. The tip of the male tail resembles a claw.
Mississippi mud turtles like damp environments. They are visible in waterways that are shallow, still, or flowing slowly and include aquatic vegetation. They stay away from rivers in motion.
The eastern part of Oklahoma is home to a variety of habitats where you may find these cute turtles, including swamps, ditches, ponds, lakes, and bayous.
Omnivores include Mississippi mud turtles. They eat both animal and plant foods in their diet. They hunt for aquatic insects and plants at the bottom of ponds and wetlands.
Feeding options for confined turtles include earthworms, feeder fish, mussels, and high-quality turtle pellets.
4. Striped Mud Turtle
|Scientific Name||Kinosternon baurii|
|Alternate Name(s)||Three-Striped Mud Turtle, 3 Striped Mud Turtle|
|Size||4 to5 inches|
|Weight||11 to 12 ounces|
Mud turtles with stripes, sometimes called the Three Small water turtles called striped mud turtles reach adulthood with carapace lengths of around 5 inches.
Under five inches long, these adorable miniature aquatic turtles bring interest to every room in your house with their distinctive appearance. They are also easy to use, making them a wonderful choice for those who are searching for something different to use in their home’s tank but don’t have much experience doing so.
Three light tan or cream-colored stripes that run the length of these turtles’ shells and sometimes on their heads help to identify them.
Their plastron, or bottom shell, is often rust-colored and has a dark brown domed carapace.
Males often have longer, thicker tails than their female equivalents.
Printed Mud Turtles like to live in shallow waterways with slow currents, soft-bottomed soils, and an abundance of aquatic vegetation.
Both freshwater and saltwater, as well as brackish waters, contain them. They like living in waters with a salinity of less than 15 parts per thousand, such as those found in marshes, mud or sand dunes, and damp fields.
They also like damp meadows and cypress swamps. The lower Florida Keys, along with the rest of Florida, Georgia, North and South Carolina, and Virginia—all states with continental climates—are all home to this turtle’s natural range.
As omnivores, Striped Mud Turtles may get their fill of protein from a variety of sources, including carrion, snails, earthworms, crustaceans, and fish.
They consume a variety of aquatic plants, algae, palm seeds, and other plant-based meals.
5. White-lipped Mud Turtle
|Scientific name||Kinosternon Leucostomum|
|Average Adult Size||Up to 8 inches|
|Lifespan||30 to 50 years|
|Diet||Omnivorous, invertebrates, Crustaceans, mollusks, fish, and plants|
Maintaining White Lipped Mud turtles might be interesting and enlightening for a seasoned turtle keeper.
The care requirements of a turtle that lives in water are also rather simple. It’s possible that fish or other turtles will be used to keep them company.
Like most other Mud turtle species, White-lipped Mud turtles may shut themselves completely within their shells when threatened by predators.
Male White-lipped Mud turtles will ultimately mature to a larger size than females. The bigger head and longer, thicker tail of a male are telltale signs of his gender.
White-lipped mud turtles have black or brown shells that are spherical and sleek. The shells of these reptiles are similarly rounded at the rear and slope forward like those of other Mud turtles.
Their lips have a remarkable pale tint, and the skin around their mouths is a creamy white.
Their horns are a mixture of brown and gold. Their fleshy barbels and yellow plastrons give them a unique appearance. The tips of their tails are armed with horned spines.
White-lipped mud turtles are endemic to Central and South America, and their distribution includes parts of Colombia, Ecuador, Nicaragua, northwest Peru, and southern Mexico.
Water is where white-lipped mud turtles spend the vast bulk of their time. The majority of their habitats are marshes and swamps, both of which have slow-moving, stagnant waters.
When the water level drops, they may dig in the sandy, silty substrate that they like.
White-Lipped Mud Turtles are among the many reptiles that can eat almost anything. Active mostly at dawn and night, their diet consists primarily of crabs, fish, crustaceans, mollusks, and sometimes plants. If they happen across any, they may consume the carcass.
6. Yellow Mud Turtle
|Scientific Name||Kinosternon flavescens|
|Alternate Name(s)||yellow-necked mud turtle|
|Size||4.5 to 6 inches|
|Weight||11 to 12 ounces|
|Lifespan||10 to 40 years|
Pet yellow mud turtles are excellent first turtles. You don’t have to do much to keep them happy, since they demand little attention.
Make sure you’re buying from a reliable turtle pet store or breeder. Their time in the water is balanced with time on land.
Because of the yellow coloring around their necks and throats, these turtles are sometimes referred to as “yellow mud turtles.” Their shells may occasionally retain this coloring as well.
Unlike other turtles, this species’ bottom shell has two hinges, allowing them to shut either half independently. Female turtles lack the sharp tail spines that are characteristic of male turtles.
This type of turtle prefers aquatic environments including wetlands, rivers, streams, ponds, sloughs, and flooded fields.
They like to burrow into the mud during the colder months and hotter summer months.
This species has a high tank size requirement when maintained as a pet. A 40-gallon tank is required at least, although a larger one is preferable for the turtles.
The mud turtles under my care love to swim about in the big aquariums.
In general, their diet consists of smaller creatures, including reptiles, amphibians, insects, the eggs of other turtles and fish, mollusks, clams, snails, crayfish, shrimp, fish, carrion, and plants. Ticks, spiders, and earthworms are among their other favorite meals.
Commercial turtle food is also consumed. Still, it’s wise to round out their meals with some animal protein, some greens, and some fruit.
42 Prominent Turtle Species In The World: Infographic
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Mud Turtle Care For Beginners: Infographic
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Mud Turtle Care Sheet
Mud turtles need a lot of room to roam, a sandy, dry spot to rest their shells, and fresh water at all times.
No more than a quarter of the tank’s floor space should be devoted to your turtle. If you want to keep your mud turtle outside, be sure to give it a wide, shady location with lots of muck for its hibernation pattern.
Keep your turtles cool in the summer and warm in the winter by providing them with a deep pool of water to swim in.
If you want to keep your mud turtle indoors, be sure to install a basking light right over its sleeping place.
When the turtles aren’t hibernating, the tank air temperature should be maintained at 80 degrees and the water temperature at 70 degrees.
Mud turtles, like all other turtle species, need exposure to UVB rays. Numerous options exist for producing the necessary UVB light.
If you must house your turtles inside, give a basking lamp that maintains a temperature of 90 degrees and emits UVB rays to help them produce vitamin D3.
Mud turtles, like other turtles, need plenty of sunshine or full-spectrum light to be healthy. Without it, their shells might become pliable and weak, which can lead to disease or even death. We highly recommend Zoo Med’s Reptisun 10.0.
Substrates are unnecessary for mud turtles. Instead, you may just put some down to make the environment seem better and more realistic.
Selecting an aquarium substrate that sinks to the bottom and doesn’t mix with the water is essential. The substrate must be kept in place at the base.
If you want the turtle to feel secure, provide a number of hiding places. When the turtle senses danger, it becomes anxious.
This may have a detrimental effect on its eating habits. Places to hide may also serve as eye-catching accents. Aquarium plants (both artificial and natural) and driftwood provide enough shade.
It’s true that mud turtles, as they’re often known, are omnivores, yet they consume virtually solely animal materials.
Basically, everything that is smaller than a turtle is fair game for these critters. Among them are frogs, toads, lizards, turtles, snakes, chameleons, iguanas, tarantulas, iguanas, lizards, and fish.
Also, they will sometimes consume things like algae and leaves. There is no such thing as a fussy eater among them.
The simplest and most effective approach to feeding them is using store-bought turtle chow. They take these without question.
Despite their endearing size and appearance, these turtles are far from tame and friendly. They may bite if handled. This occurs if the person is anxious or afraid.
Consequently, picking them up isn’t recommended. Furthermore, salmonella is a concern with any little turtles, including the mud turtle. Do not touch them without first washing your hands.
One of the most common types of pet turtles, mud turtles are both low maintenance and fascinating.
Mud turtles are wonderful housepets since they don’t need a lot of attention or exercise. They are perfect for most houses since they seldom go bigger than 5 inches.
Maintaining a clean habitat with clean water is essential for the health of your mud turtle. Unclean water is a leading cause of skin illnesses.
They are so easy to care for that even beginners may have one as a pet. The eastern mud turtle (K. subrubrum), striped mud turtles (K. baurii), and yellow mud turtles (K. olivacea) are all common pet mud turtles (K. flavescens).