Common Musk Turtle (Stinkpot)

Common Musk Turtle (Stinkpot)
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  • Item #: MU

 Scientific Name:  Sternotherus odoratus

 Identification:   Stinkpots have the standard North American musk turtle form-factor; small oval-shaped turtle with a reduced, almost ‘surf board’ plastron (more mobility than a mud turtle at the cost of reduced protection; grayish skin is seen up the center & between plastral scutes) & a large head (variable degree; useful for crushing snails). Overall coloration tends toward gray or black, with some northern stinkpots tending toward brown & more southeast (particularly in Florida) specimens being blacker. A pair of irregular horizontal yellow ‘lightening’ stripes run along the side of the face & head on each side. These stripes run past the eye out to the nose, like a 3-striped mud’s but unlike a Mississippi mud’s (which stop at the eye). Small barbells are present on the underside of the head.


Range:   Sternotherus odoratus is a widespread and abundant species that can be found along the coast of the eastern United States from the northeastern states down into Florida. Their range extends west to the Great Lakes region, through Illinois, to western Kansas and Oklahoma and reaches its western most distribution in central Texas. This musk turtle occurs further north than all of the other musk turtles.


Diet:   In captivity stinkpots tend to favor carnivorous food items like aquatic turtle pellets, snails, earth worms, grasshoppers, crickets, ghost shrimp, small crayfish & commercial aquatic turtle pellets

 Stinkpots take their name from small glands on the underside of the carapace that can exude a foul-smelling musk in self-defense; captives don’t do this often & it is not a hygiene issue (your house won’t stink because you keep one). Other mud & musk turtles & common snappers have this capability. Unlike some of the other musk turtles, S. oderatus are reported to not have a tolerance for brackish water. They tend to prefer slow moving or still water, and though they are a highly aquatic species, rarely coming out to bask in captivity, in their natural habitat they will seeming defy gravity by climbing up near 90 degree angled branches. With surprising strength and a fierce grip, they will hold their hefty little bodies well above the water. When disturbed, adults will quickly drop down, but juveniles may continue to cling fast.

They have a sharp beak and strong jaws and care should be taken when handling them. Not all stinkpots will bite, but if annoyed or threatened, they are capable extending their long neck and, in a flash, can whip it back across their carapace and clamp down on an unsuspecting finger.

Stinkpots typically mix well with basking turtles (cooters, painteds, sliders, etc…) once adult. Because hatchlings are fragile & more slow-growing than basking species, if you must raise stinkpots with baskers start off with a stinkpot at least 1.5” SCL, at least as large & preferably a bit larger than the basker. If a stinkpot demonstrates open hostility isolate it quickly as they have the jaw-power to do serious damage (like biting off a leg). Stinkpots aren’t well-equipped for fishing & eat little plant matter, so they’re more compatible with fish & planted tanks than some popular basking species.


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Price $35.00

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