Common Musk Turtle (Stinkpot)

Sternotherus odoratus
(Latreille, 1802)
St. Louis Co., Missouri. Spring 1976.

Stinkpots live on the bottom of almost any body of water, and would be rarely seen except that they like to climb trees to bask, and sometimes end up falling in your canoe from a low-hanging branch. Occasionally I run across them far from water, usually during heavy rains, but mostly I find their shells, dropped in the woods after raccoons have eaten the rest. The coons know the shallow places where stinkpots come at night to feed, and unwittingly become food. These charismatic little turtle-tanks stink to high heaven when handled, releasing musk from glands located in the skin near the bridge (where plastron and carapace meet). That musky smell is indescribable, and unforgettable.

The incredibly tiny neonate stinkpot (top photo) was observed in southern Illinois back in 2007. The two juveniles were found in a minoow trap in the Florida Panhandle.

My Flickr album for this species is here.

HerpMapper records for this species are here.

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