Common Musk Turtle Fact Sheet

Common Musk Turtle

Class: Reptilia
Order: Testudines
Family: Kinosternidae
Genus: Sternotherus
Species: odoratum
Life span:

50+ years

Egg Gestation:

Females lay 1-9 eggs that hatch 60-85 days later

Number of young at birth:


Age of maturity: 3-4 years

Shell averages 3-5 in long


1-2 lbs

Size at birth:  Less than 1 in
Description: Olive brown to dark gray turtle with a highly domed, oval shaped carapace.  The carapace is often covered with a camouflaging layer of algae. Have two bright facial stripes beneath their eyes and small, tentacle-like sensory extensions known as barbels on their chins and throats.  The lower shell is small and has a single hinge which enables the turtle to partially close and protect itself.




  • Found in southeastern Canada, eastern and Midwestern United States and south through Texas. Lives in freshwater rivers, streams, lakes, ponds, and swamps.
  • Eats earthworms, snails, clams, crayfish, crabs, insects, tadpoles, fish and fish eggs.  Also eats some plant foods like algae. 
  • When threatened, the common musk turtle may bite and scratch fiercely.  Worse yet, it may spray its musk – an odor so vile, it has earned this turtle the nickname “stinkpot”.
  • Walks on the bottom of the stream or pond instead of swimming like other turtles.