Fun Stinkpot Turtle Facts For Kids

Abhijeet Modi
Jan 09, 2023 By Abhijeet Modi
Originally Published on Aug 06, 2021
Edited by Jacob Fitzbright
Informative stinkpot turtle facts which are fun and interesting.

Sternotherus odoratus is a tiny, dark, and shy aquatic turtle. Some common names of this creature include eastern musk turtle, stinkpot turtle, and common musk turtle. It is one of the smallest turtles in the world known for its black body, musky odor, and aggressive nature.

The turtle spends most of its time underwater. It lives in various kinds of aquatic habitats but usually prefers shallow water. They belong to the reptiles and amphibians species of animal, due to their ability to stay both in water and land.

This turtle has a dark shell covering most of the length of the body. Their skin is grayish black.

Yellow stripes extend from the tip of the nose to the head. It is a bad swimmer even though it can stay in the water and generally prefers to walk on the edge of the water to forage food.

Although the conservation status is the least concern of this creature, in many places, it is endangered due to habitat loss and habitat fragmentation. Many people have adopted them as pets due to their cute physique and calm nature.

If you have developed a lot of interest and curiosity in turtles, you can also check out common snapping turtle facts and wood frog facts.

Stinkpot Turtle Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a stinkpot turtle?

The stinkpot musk turtle is also known as the common musk turtle is one of the smallest turtle species in the world.

What class of animal does a stinkpot turtle belong to?

The common musk turtle belongs to the class Reptilia of the phylum Chordata. They are reptiles and amphibians.

How many stinkpot turtles are there in the world?

The population size of common musk turtles has not been estimated yet.

Where does a stinkpot turtle live?

The common musk turtle (Sternotherus odoratus) lives along the seashores of the eastern United States and southwestern Canada. Their range includes the Great Lakes region, Illinois, Kansas, Oklahoma, and central Texas. Unlike all other musk turtles, the common musk turtle extends its range further north.

What is a stinkpot turtle's habitat?

The common musk turtle inhabits wetland regions and littoral zones, especially shallow waters with a steady current, heavily vegetated waters, and muddy surfaces. Most common habitats include shallow streams, rivers, ponds, and lakes.

It mostly spends its time in water and comes on land when they have their eggs. Among all turtles, it is more aquatic and also has the ability of climbing.

It can be seen relaxing on collapsed tree trunks and woody debris which are crucial elements of wetland habitat. The musk turtle builds its nest on land, and coastline real estate development is destructive. In the nesting season, it is common on roads, especially after heavy rainfall.

The musk turtle hibernates hide in the mud under logs or muskrat lodges. It is a bad swimmer and often walks on the bottom of its local habitats.

Who do stinkpot turtles live with?

The common musk turtles are anti-social animals. They like to live alone.

How long does a stinkpot turtle live?

The life span of this turtle is between 30 to 50 years in the wild. However, in captivity, it can live more than 50 years. Males usually reach sexual maturity at the age of four years, whereas, females take to 10 years to attain their sexual maturity.

How do they reproduce?

Spring is the breeding season of common musk turtles. Males and females mate underwater.

After that, female turtles lay two to three elliptical, hard-shelled eggs. They usually prefer the shallow burrow or under coastline debris.

This species of turtles share their nest sites, which is unique. Researchers once found sixteen nests under one log!

The female eastern musk turtle builds brackish nests on the corner of a water source, such as rivers or streams under decomposing logs or dead leaves. Sometimes, these turtles construct a nest two or more times per year.

Hatching of eggs occurs at the end of summer or the beginning of fall after an incubation period of hundred and one hundred fifty days making these turtles a unique species that shows delayed emergence. Oophagy is an important cause of mortality, which happens in many turtle species.

In a study, the hatching success in Pennsylvania populations was only 15 %, and around 25 out of 32 nests were destroyed by predators. The young are not more than one inch long and usually have a static shell that will become a little flexible, smooth, and domed with age.

What is their conservation status?

The conservation status of the stinkpot common musk turtle is listed as Least Concern, due to their growing and stable population. However, in some regions like Canada, Iowa, and many more, they have been listed as endangered species.

Stinkpot Turtle Fun Facts

What do stinkpot turtles look like?

Stinkpot turtles have a greenish, dark body coloration.

The common musk turtle (Sternotherus odoratus) is a diminutive brown, gray, and black turtle with an extremely domed shell. This shell is composed of two elements: carapace and plastron.

The carapace is the upper shell and the plastron is the lower shell. Both of them are joined with a bridge. There is an outer layer on the carapace which is made of individual pieces called scoots.

It develops to a linear carapace length of around 2-5.5 in (5.1-14 cm). The color of the carapace is black or brown and has a flat, oval shape.

Although, the hatchling's carapace texture is rough and black. The turtle has a long neck, short legs, pointed snout, and sharp beak.

There are two parallel yellow stripes on the neck which are excellent land marker which can be seen from the top in swimming turtles, which disappear in other turtles with age. Males can easily be distinguished from females by their considerably longer tails and also by the spikes at the end of their tails.

In males, the underside of the anal vent expands out beyond the plastron.

Females of the common musk turtle species are generally bigger than males. The head of these turtles is triangular.

There is a greenish-yellow line from the point of the nose to the neck. The throat and the chin have barbels.

To respire in water, the tongues of the turtle are covered in bud-like papillae. The common musk turtle has dark olive to black skin. The hinge anterior to abdominal scutes is weakly developed.

In adults, some plastral scutes are divided by soft tissues. The pectoral scutes are squarish.

How cute are they?

With their tiny size and black body, common musk turtles look adorable.

How do they communicate?

Common musk turtles lack vocal cords, but still, they communicate through different sounds. Apart from these, they use five types of communication to send information or contact each other. These are, hearing, touch, sight, smell, and taste.

How big is a stinkpot turtle?

The length of the eastern musk turtle is 2-5.5 in (5.1-14 cm), which is five times smaller than the western pond turtle.

How fast can a stinkpot turtle move?

The exact speed of the eastern musk is unknown but it must be a slow locomotor like other turtles. Also, it is a slow swimmer.

How much does a stinkpot turtle weigh?

The weight of a common musk turtle is 11.2 lb (318 g). A female turtle is bigger than a male turtle. Therefore, the weight of the female must be larger than the male.

What are the male and female names of the species?

The male and female common musk turtle has no specific names.

What would you call a baby stinkpot turtle?

The baby musk turtle is generally known as a hatchling or young one.

What do they eat?

Common musk turtles feed on various aquatic invertebrates, such as crayfish, mollusks, snails, terrestrial insects, dragonflies, damselfly, aquatic larvae, and freshwater clams. They also eat marine animals like carrion, fish, crayfish, and small tadpoles. The diet of a hatchling is more heavy and carnivorous than an adult turtle. They occasionally feed on aquatic plants including Elodea species and duckweed.

Are they poisonous?

No, musk turtles do not possess any poison.

Would they make a good pet?

Yes, the common musk turtles are one of the popular pet turtles. One can buy this adorable animal in reptile pet shops, and they usually cost around $60 to $100.

Did you know...

The musk turtle delivers a powerful and painful bite if it feels threatened.

The young ones are quite active even though they seem slow and calm.

Why are they called stinkpot turtles?

The common musk turtle excretes a musky odor when feels threatened. This odor is secreted by a tiny gland in its underside. Due to the excretion of this musk scent, it is known as musk turtle or stinkpot turtle.

Keeping stinkpot turtles

Due to their diminutive size, musk turtles normally make better pet turtles than other species, such as Tracemys scripts elegans or commonly known as the red-eared slider, which is the most popular species of turtle. Musk turtles are commonly available in their range in the wild.

However, some breeders breed them for the pet trade.

These turtles require special arrangements and care in captivity. For instance, it is suggested to keep two turtles in one aquarium.

Keeping a pair also needs special attention as sometimes a male can harass a female. A 20 gallon (75.7 L) bare-bottomed tank with non-chlorinated water is perfect for a musk turtle.

Other requirements include basking light, a temperature of 90 F (32.2 C), a ceramic heat emitter, and high-quality UVB bulbs for vitamins and minerals.

Although in wild the turtle's diet includes a variety of food, as a pet it will eat cut up fish, earthworms, crickets, bloodworms, shrimps, algae wafers, and pelleted turtle foods. It should be noted that a diet consists of a high amount of protein can lead to various deficiencies, such as Vitamin A and E deficiencies.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other reptiles from our hawksbill sea turtle facts and Chinese softshell turtle facts pages.

You can even occupy yourself at home by coloring in one of our Chinese softshell turtle coloring pages.

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Written by Abhijeet Modi

Master of Computer Science

Abhijeet Modi picture

Abhijeet ModiMaster of Computer Science

An experienced and innovative entrepreneur and creative writer, Abhijeet holds a Bachelor's and Master's degree in Computer Application from Birla Institute of Technology, Jaipur. He co-founded an e-commerce website while developing his skills in content writing, making him an expert in creating blog posts, website content, product descriptions, landing pages, and editing articles. Passionate about pushing his limits, Abhijeet brings both technical expertise and creative flair to his work.

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