Share your observations

Share your observations of plants or non-game animals with the Natural Heritage Inventory

ways to reduce wildlife-human conflict and avoid wildlife damage.
Wisconsin's rare plants, animals and natural communities.
about wildlife health and rehabilitation.
Contact information
For more information, contact:
Rori Paloski

Eastern Musk Turtle (Sternotherus odoratus)

Eastern Musk Turtle photo.
Photo © Paul Skawinski
  • Family: Kinosternidae (Musk and Mud turtles)
  • Status: Common
  • Size: carapace 3.5 to 5.5 inches

range map

Species range

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. Eastern 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.


Eastern Musk Turtle  Photo

Photo © Paul Skawinski.

Eastern Musk Turtle  Photo

Photo © Dan Nedrelo.

Last revised: Tuesday, December 22, 2020