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- Rori Paloski
Eastern Musk Turtle (Sternotherus odoratus)
- Family: Kinosternidae (Musk and Mud turtles)
- Status: Locally common
- Size: carapace 3.5 to 5.5 inches
The eastern musk, one of the world's smallest turtles, is also known as the stinkpot; an appropriate name considering the foul musk it emits when seized. Its carapace is brownish-black, elongated and domed. Its plastron, which is reduced in size, allows the legs a greater range of motion than most turtles, but also makes the stinkpot more vulnerable to predators. Its head has a sharply pointed snout with two thin, whitish-yellow stripes running along either side and onto the neck. The stinkpot has small, poorly webbed feet and short legs. They prefer habitats with abundant aquatic vegetation, which they use for climbing to the surface. Lakes and backwaters are their preferred habitats although they can occasionally be found in stream and rivers. Common musk turtles spend much of their time walking on the bottom, foraging for snails, fingernail clams and aquatic insects. Basking is usually limited to spring, when females may choose to elevate their body temperatures to speed egg development.