Sternotherus odoratus
common musk turtle, hatchling
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Subphylum: Vertebrata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Testudines
Suborder: Cryptodira
Superfamily: Kinosternoidea
Family: Kinosternidae
Subfamily: Kinosterninae
Genus: Sternotherus
Bell in Gray, 1825[1]

Sternotherus is a genus of aquatic turtles known commonly as musk turtles, which are endemic to North America. This genus is closely related to the genus Kinosternon.[2] The most common species of Sternotherus in most of North America is Sternotherus odoratus, the common musk turtle or stinkpot; that entry has more information on the ecology of this group of turtles.

Geographic range

The genus occurs in southern Canada, as well as the United States and Mexico.


They are very similar to the American mud turtles, but tend to have a more domed carapace, with a distinctive keel down the center of it. Sternotherus odoratus typically grows to only 8–14 cm (3–5½ inches) in carapace length at full maturity, with females often being larger than males.


All musk turtles are carnivorous, consuming various aquatic invertebrates, fish, and carrion.


They are a highly aquatic genus. But some, like the common musk turtle, are known to bask on fallen trees and coarse woody debris on shorelines.[2]



  1. "Sternotherus ". ITIS (Integrated Taxonomic Information System).
  2. 1 2 Ernst CH, Barbour RW, Lovich JE. 1994. Turtles of the United States and Canada. Washington, District of Columbia: Smithsonian Institution. (p. 137).

Further reading

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