Eastern Musk Turtle

Sternotherus odoratus


Adult carapace length 2-4 in. (5.1-11.5cm). A small, ovalish turtle with two, whitish to yellowish stripes on the head. Barbels are present on the chin and throat. The carapace is smooth and dark colored. Usually black or dark brown with some specimens showing a light pattern of streaks or spots. The plastron is small with a single hinge. In males, there is a large patch of skin on the plastron and the tail is thick, ending in a horny nail. In females the skin patch is reduced and the tail smaller. Young musk turtles are tiny ; carapace length 7/8 - 1 in.(2.2-2.5 cm), rough in texture, and with a very prominent middorsal keel.[1]


Slow-moving and muddy-bottomed waters of rivers and streams. Shallow, weed-choked corners of lakes, ponds, and reservoirs. Musk Turtles generally avoid brackish water.[2]


  1. Conant, Roger and Joseph Collins. A Field Guide to Reptiles and Amphibians -Eastern and Central North America. Houghton Mifflin Company, 1998.
  2. Gibbs, James P., [et al.] The Reptiles and Amphibians of New York State : Identification, Natural History, and Conservation. Oxford University Press, 2007.


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