These small turtles are born with a high, strong ridge or “dorsal keel”. This feature is an identifying characteristic of razorback musk turtles. This species prefers streams and river systems in middle Texas, southern Oklahoma, Arkansas and southern Mississippi with gravel or sandy substrate and dead wood for basking and hiding.
  • Size

    5.1 to 6.3 inches
  • Diet

    Fish, snails, crustaceans, clams, aquatic insects
  • Range

    North America
  • Habitat

    Streams and river systems with gravel or sandy substrate

Physical Characteristics

  • Razorback musk turtle ranges in color from olive green to shades of gray and tan. The head and feet are usually marked with darker speckling or streaking, and the carapace is similarly marked.
  • A high, strong ridge or “dorsal keel,” is an identifying feature of this species. It is especially noticeable in hatchlings and juveniles.
  • Carapace is commonly 5.1 – 6.3 inches (13 – 16cm) long with a maximum size of 8.3 inches (20.9 cm).

Animal Fact

Razorback musk turtles are a favorite of home aquarists because of their small size and ease of care.

Diet / Feeding

  • Diet consists of fish, snails, crustaceans, clams and aquatic insects.

Range / Habitat

  • Occurs in North America from middle Texas and southern Oklahoma through Arkansas and southern Mississippi.
  • Most often found in streams and river systems with gravel or sandy substrate. Also found in lakes and swamps. The razorback musk turtle appears to prefer habitats with the presence of dead wood for basking and hiding under.

Reproduction & Growth

  • Reproductive maturity is reached between the ages of four to eight years, at a size of about 3.0 – 4.7 (8 – 12 cm).
  • Females typically produce two or three clutches per year. A single clutch usually consists of one to seven eggs.
  • Hatchlings range in length from 0.9 to 1.1 inches (25 – 28 mm).

Conservation Status

  • “Least Concern” on the IUCN Red List.

Additional Information

  • Also called the “keeled musk turtle.”
  • A popular turtle for home aquarists due to its small size and ease of care.


  • Conant, Roger and Joseph T. Collins. A Field Guide to Reptiles & Amphibians: Eastern/Central North America
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