Other Free Encyclopedias » Animal Life Resource » Dinosaurs, Snakes, and Other Reptiles » American Mud and Musk Turtles: Kinosternidae - Physical Characteristics, Behavior And Reproduction, Stinkpot (sternotherus Odoratus): Species Account - GEOGRAPHIC RANGE, HABITAT, DIET, AMERICAN MUD AND MUSK TURTLES AND PEOPLE, CONSERVATION STATUS

American Mud and Musk Turtles: Kinosternidae - Stinkpot (sternotherus Odoratus): Species Account

stinkpots eggs shell lay

Physical characteristics: As its name says, the stinkpot can give off quite an odor. This odor comes from a substance known as musk, which comes from sacs, or glands, on the sides of the turtle's body. The stinkpot is small, has a somewhat rounded upper shell, or carapace, and a small lower shell, or plastron, that covers only the center of its underside. The plastron has one side-to-side hinge near the front. The turtle's head typically has two yellow stripes on each side that run backward from a pointy snout. The stinkpot also has at least two barbels, or bits of hanging flesh, on its chin and neck. Stinkpots, which are also known as common musk turtles, grow to about 5.4 inches (13.7 centimeters) in carapace length, although some adults only reach about 3 inches (7.6 centimeters) long.

The stinkpot is a small freshwater turtle most at home in mud-bottomed, weedy lakes and ponds in southeastern Canada and through much of the eastern half of the United States. (Henri Janssen. Reproduced by permission.)

Geographic range: Stinkpots are found in Canada and the United States.

Habitat: The stinkpot is a small freshwater turtle most at home in mud-bottomed, weedy lakes and ponds in southeastern Canada and through much of the eastern half of the United States.

Diet: Stinkpots eat a variety of animals and plants. Their diet includes worms, snails, clams, crayfish, insects, tadpoles, fishes and their eggs, and even bites of flesh they take from dead animals. Stinkpots are also fond of seeds, tiny aquatic plantlike growths called algae (AL-jee), and pieces of plants that grow in the water.

Behavior and reproduction: Like other members of their family, stinkpots stay in the water much of their lives but are poor swimmers and often simply walk along the water bottom looking for food. Although they are small, stinkpots can put up quite a fight if an animal attacks them or if a human tries to pick one up. Often a turtle that feels threatened ducks its head, legs, and tail as far as possible into the shell. At other times, however, the stinkpot snaps out with its mouth wide open, sometimes taking a firm bite at the attacker.

Stinkpots sometimes sunbathe, or bask, on land. Turtles that live in a warmer area may stay active all year long. Turtles that live in an area that has cold winters may hibernate for a few months.

Most musk turtles mate in the spring or fall, but some mate at other times of the year. The male may try to attract the female by biting at her shell or nudging her, but these turtles often mate without much fuss. The females lay their eggs from spring to midsummer, sometimes as early as February in warmer areas. Some female stinkpots simply drop their eggs among leaves, but others dig a hole, lay the eggs inside, and then bury them. The white, oblong eggs range from 0.9 to 1.2 inches (2.3–3.0 centimeters) long and from 0.5 to 0.7 inches (1.3–1.8 centimeters) wide. The female usually lays a clutch, or group, of two to five eggs at a time but sometimes lay as few as one or as many as nine eggs. The stinkpot may lay one or two clutches a year in colder areas and up to four clutches a year in southern climates. The eggs hatch in about sixty-five to eighty-five days. Very warm and very cool nest temperatures produce females, and temperatures in between produce males.

Stinkpots and people: Some people collect stinkpots for the pet trade, but this practice is not very common.

Conservation status: Neither the World Conservation Union (IUCN) nor the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service consider the stinkpot threatened. ∎



Behler, John L., and F. Wayne King. The Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Reptiles and Amphibians. New York: Knopf, 1979.

Burnie, David, and Don E. Wilson, eds. Animal: The Definitive Visual Guide to the World's Wildlife. London: Dorling Kindersley, 2001.

Conant, Roger, and Joseph T. Collins. A Field Guide to Reptiles and Amphibians of Eastern and Central North America. 3rd ed. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1998.

Harding, J. H., and J. A. Holman. Michigan Turtles and Lizards. East Lansing: Michigan State University, 1990.

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over 7 years ago

I had a stinkpot turtle for 21 years he died sudden a few days ago I was wondering why this happen