Common Musk Turtle

(Sternotherus odoratus)

Photos by Kirk LaGory

Musk turtle

Side view of a musk turtle (stinkpot) in hands.
Musk turtle

Musk turtles have yellow lines across the side of their head and neck.

Musk turtle plastron

Plastron (lower shell) of a musk turtle.

NH Conservation Status: Not listed

State Rank Status: Widespread and secure

Distribution: Southern NH

Description: A 2-5 inch turtle with a smooth, highly domed olive-brown or black carapace that may be irregularly streaked or spotted with dark pigment. On the head and neck are two yellow stripes terminating at the nose. There are two pairs of barbells on the chin and throat used for sensory purposes. May be referred to as the stinkpot in relation to the pungent odor it releases. 

Commonly Confused Species: Juvenile snapping turtles

Habitat: Exclusively aquatic, found in ponds, shallow lakes, slow-moving streams and rivers that have soft muddy bottoms. Tolerate a narrow range of temperatures, moving to deeper, cooler water when temperatures get too high.

Life History: Nests are excavated close to the water’s edge in loamy soil. Hibernates in aquatic or wetland habitats. May climb limbs over water to bask.

Conservation Threats: Habitat loss, increased abundance of subsidized predators, water pollution.

Distribution map: Click here for a map showing the towns where this species is reported to occur in NH

Got to Eastern Box TurtleBack to Turtles of NHGo to Eastern Painted Turtle



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NH Fish and Game Dept.
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Concord, NH 03301

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