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Eastern Musk Turtle

G. Clayton

Sternotherus odoratus

Also known as the stinkpot turtle.

Species at Risk Status

Federal Government status: Special Concern

Provincial Government status: Special Concern


  • Small turtle, adult body length of 7 to 13 cm. (3 to 5 in.)
  • Domed carapace (portion of shell covering back) is brown in colour, with black flecks. The plastron (lower shell) is quite small and black and yellow in colour.
  • Two yellow stripes along each side of its head and barbels (whisker-like) on chin and throat.


  • Aquatic insects and invertebrates, aquatic plants and carrion.

Habits and Reproduction

  • Hibernation, under mud or logs, lasts from late October to April.
  • If handled, the stinkpot turtle lives up to its name by releasing a musky smelling substance from under its carapace.
  • Mating occurs from April to May, and possibly a second time in the fall.
  • From late May to early July, clutches of 2-5 brittle eggs are laid in a hole dug in sandy soil, or beneath ground cover. Typically muskrat houses are used by the females for nesting sites.
  • Males mature after 3 or 4 years, however females may not mature until they are 7 or older.
  • May live to the age of 50.


  • A variety of wetlands, including ponds, rivers, marshes and lakes.
  • Usually prefer a sand or gravel bottom.
  • Rarely venture from the water even to bask.


  • The main factor in their decline is the draining of wetlands and shoreline development.

Conservation Actions

Range Map

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