This enclosure houses two adult female Common Musk turtles (Sternotherus odoratus), constructed from a plastic underbed storage box, wooden frame, DIY sponge basked filter, and an array of live plants and aquatic life.
Common Musk Turtles are a relative shy species of turtle, preferring to stay hidden away on the bottom, amongst dense vegetation, in the sluggish backwaters and ponds of North America.
These two females came into my collection in March 2012, due to their owner moving home. Both were shy to begin with, and hesitant to do much other than hide, although they are beginning to show more confidence as they become used to their new home.
Their enclosure was initially made in somewhat of a hurry, but has slowly begun to evolve as I pieced together a a natural looking basking area, and the aquatic plants have begun to grow. The enclosure is based around an underbed storage tub, similar to that used for my juvenile Musk turtles, although slightly larger, measuring 100 x 50 x 20cm. It has been framed with square-edged timber, and cladding panels, which support the structure and prevent bowing, and keep the turtles enclosed. The basking area was constructed from a pond planting basket, which doubles as a biological filter, and some locally collected driftwood which was scrubbed and rinsed in hot water.
I use a playsand substrate, as musks are a "bottom-walking" species rather than open swimmers, and I feel that having a substrate underfoot makes them feel more secure. I never advise the use of gravel due to the risk of impaction, which I have had problems with in other species of turtle. Sand (or any particulate substrate smaller than the turtle's head) can also pose this risk, but finer particle substrates like play sand are more likely to pass through the digestive tract without problem.
Inside the enclosure are a variety of species of plants which are native to North America, where these turtles originate, including Lemna, Salvinia and Elodea. Swortail fry are used a "dither fish" - by having a small, active fish species in the enclosure (which are too quick for the turtles to catch), it creates a sense of safety and indicates to the turtles that there are no predators around.
I use a small internal filter , mainly to create a light current, and a household spotlight for heating the basking area. The water temperature stays pretty constant without a heater, at around 25 degrees celcius due to its location in my reptile room. Currently, I do not use an Ultraviolet bulb, and instead supplement the diet with Vitamin D3. Due to the turtles' small size, I have found it easy to clean this enclosure without using heavy filtration. The plants also contribute to clean water.
If you have any questions about this enclosure, dont hesitate to email me,
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