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Eastern Musk Turtle

Sternotherus odoratus

Also knwon as the stinkpot turtle.

COSEWIC Status: Special Concern

COSSARO Status: Special Concern

G. Clayton


  • 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

Photo Gallery

Stinkpot Turtle Plastron Credit: Scott Gillingwater

For more information about the Eastern Musk Turtle in the Georgian Bay area, contact:

Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry
SAR Biologist
7 Bay Street
Parry Sound, Ontario
P2A 1S4
Phone: 705-746-4201

Georgian Bay Islands National Park
901 Wye Valley Road
Midland, Ontario
L4R 4K6
Phone: 705-526-9804

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