What Do Musk Turtles Eat? Full Guide for a Healthy Diet

Musk Turtles, also known as the Stinkpot, is named after the foul, musky odor it releases when threatened. Stinky or not, musk turtles have a feisty and fun personality, making them a great pet. Plus, they make wonderful life companions as they can live between 30 and 50 years old — as long as they’re healthy — so make sure you give them proper care and the best diet.

Musk turtles are omnivores and have an appetite for various aquatic foods, meat, insects, and vegetables. These turtles usually prefer fresh and live foods but will easily accept dried foods when their favorite foods are unavailable.

In captivity, a varied diet will ensure a musk turtle lives a long and healthy life. Keep reading as I discuss what you should feed your musk turtle and what not to feed it. 

What Can You Feed Your Musk Turtles?

In the wild, these omnivores enjoy munching on small fish, insects, and plants. The same can be said to musk turtles living in captivity; most of them enjoy a varied diet as well.

You can feed your musk turtles with their favorite foods, including crickets, earthworms, redworms, dragonflies, small shrimps, snails, and crayfish. Musk turtles also enjoy high-quality pellets as well as meats like chicken, turkey, beef, and pork, and vegetables such as kale, spinach, and celery. 

There are many more food options your musk turtles will appreciate. Read on as I share with you what you should give to your musk turtles.

Insects and Worms (But Never Wild Ones)

Musk turtles love eating various insects, including crickets, earthworms, redworms, dubia cockroaches, locusts, dragonflies, and damselfly nymphs. Experiment with different insects and figure out which ones your turtles like most.

Avoid feeding your turtles any insect caught from the wild as they may carry harmful parasites. Instead, buy the insects from reputable pet supply stores or try growing them yourself.

Fresh or Dry Aquatic Foods

Musk turtles are also fond of various small fish and aquatic prey. You can emulate their wild diet by feeding them small shrimps, minnows, guppies, small snails, mollusks, and crayfish.

Live aquatic foods are preferred since they encourage healthy hunting behaviors in your turtles. That said, dried foods, such as Aquatic Freeze Dried Shrimp & Mealworms and Zoo Med Sun Dried Large Red Shrimp from Amazon.com are acceptable alternatives that are high-quality and protein-rich.

Just like with insects, it’s not recommended to feed your turtles wild aquatic animals. Instead, purchase them from reputable pet supply stores, or if you have the space and patience, try growing them yourself.

Commercial Foods

Commercial foods are also an excellent addition to musk turtles’ diet. High-quality pellets can help ensure your turtles get adequate nutrition. Commercial foods can be a fantastic staple food if you can’t feed your turtles fresh or live foods. 

I recommend that you purchase pellets formulated specifically for turtles and ensure they’re suitable for your turtles’ life stages.

You can try Zoo Med Musk Turtle Food and Exo Terra Adult Aquatic Turtle Food from Amazon.com for adult musk turtles. These popular choices are good for small breeds.  Meanwhile, Exo Terra Hatchling Aquatic Turtle Food and Tetrafauna Baby Turtle Formula Sticks from Amazon.com are highly recommended for younger turtles.

Other Meat Products

Musk turtles can also enjoy other meat products, such as chicken, turkey, beef, and pork. It’s best to cook the meat first without seasoning or additives to prevent salmonella poisoning or other health issues. 

That said, this type of food can dirty their habitat faster than other types of food. So, it’s best to only give your turtles meat occasionally as a treat.

Can Musk Turtles Eat Fruit or Vegetables?

Musk turtles can and will eat fruits and vegetables. Make sure to wash them to get rid of harmful microbes and parasites. If needed, cut them into smaller pieces so that it’s easier for your turtles to munch on them.

Every musk turtle is different; some may enjoy munching on greens, while some may turn up their noses and refuse to eat anything green. Try experimenting with different veggies and see if your musk turtles like anything.

Avoid feeding your turtles vegetables that contain little to no nutritional value, such as mushrooms, cucumbers, and eggplants. Instead, provide the turtles with fresh, nutritious vegetables, such as kale, collard, mustard greens, lettuce, spinach, cabbage, celery, and watercress. 

How Often Should You Feed Musk Turtles?

How often a musk turtle should be fed changes as they grow. Hatchlings and juveniles are more carnivorous, as they need more nutrients and need to be fed smaller meals more often. Meanwhile, adult musk turtles grow to like leafy greens and can go longer periods without food.

Musk Turtles’ Feeding Habits

Adult musk turtles and hatchlings have different feeding habits. It’s essential to feed them accordingly so they can thrive and live long healthy lives.

Let’s take a deeper look into musk turtles’ feeding habits in different stages of life.

Hatchlings and Juveniles

Feed hatchlings and juveniles every day to keep them healthy and happy. You may feed them once a day or split their meals for morning and night. 

Only feed your turtles what they can eat within 5 minutes. Or if that’s confusing, their daily meal should only amount to how much can fit inside their heads, minus the necks.

Be careful not to overfeed your baby musk turtles. Too much food at once may hurt their tiny stomachs. Even if they don’t eat everything, the leftover food might disintegrate and create waste in their habitat.

For young musk turtles, commercial foods are often the best choice. Pellets formulated for baby turtles have balanced nutrition and higher protein contents, excellent for encouraging healthy growth. 

You can feed multiple pellet brands or types to your hatchlings and juveniles. The key is to give them to your turtles in a rotation to maximize the health benefits.

Additionally, you can also supplement the pellets with meat products, insects, or small fish. Be sure to cut those foods into smaller pieces so your baby musk turtles can enjoy them more easily.

Adults

Adult musk turtles can go longer without food. It’s recommended to feed adult turtles twice or thrice a week. Again, only feed your turtles what they can finish within 5 to 10 minutes or what can fit inside their heads. Just like with younger turtles, you can also split their meals for morning and night.

Resist overfeeding your turtles as it can cause them to become obese and more prone to various health issues. Leftover food can also pollute and poison their habitat. Always remove any leftover food and make sure to give them slightly less food next time.

Feed adults a more varied diet of commercial foods, small prey, and vegetation. Avoid feeding them too much protein as it can cause various diseases, such as a pyramiding shell.

Do Musk Turtles Need Supplements?

Musk turtles often need multivitamin and calcium supplements to ensure their health, as most don’t get enough vitamin A, vitamin D, and calcium from their regular diet. Turtles of all ages need multivitamins once a week. Give calcium supplements to hatchlings every day or 3 times a week for adults. 

Keep in mind, if musk turtles are provided a varied diet, supplementation may not be necessary. 

Conclusion

In general, musk turtles aren’t fussy eaters. So, as long as you feed them a healthy and proper diet, they should be able to live long and happy lives. 

As with most reptiles, it’s best to emulate their natural diet in the wild to ensure their health. That said, you don’t need to swear off commercial foods either. High-quality commercial foods can also provide musk turtles with adequate nutrition if fresh or live foods aren’t available.

Also, be careful not to overfeed your musk turtles and feed them properly according to their different life stages. 

Sources

Bart Sprenkels

I have been keeping multiple aquariums since I was 18 years old. Just like many of you, I started with two goldfish but quickly learned they were not suitable for aquariums. Later, I switched to a tropical community tank and I also have two pet musk-turtles in a bigger aquarium. You can read more about me here.

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