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Sea Life, Animals
& Exhibits

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Eastern Musk Turtle

(Sternotherus odoratus)

Another common name for it is the Stinkpot. When disturbed, musk turtles can release a foul odor.


Found in most permanent bodies of water with slow current and soft bottoms, including ponds, lakes, swamps, streams and rivers. It is not found in brackish waters. Often climbs slanting trees on swamp and marsh edges, where they occasionally fall onto boaters.


They are carnivorous, consuming a wide variety of aquatic invertebrates including crayfish, freshwater clams, snails, aquatic larvae, tadpoles and various insects.


Breeding occurs in the spring, and females lay two to 9 elliptical, hard-shelled eggs in a shallow burrow or under shoreline debris. An unusual behavior is the tendency to share nesting sites. The eggs hatch in late summer or early fall.


Musk turtle nests are often victim to raccoons and other predators. Some fishermen kill musk turtles that are hooked when they try to eat bait. As with all turtles, cars are a major killer. Their defense mechanism is to excrete a musk scent from a small gland in their underside, hence the name musk turtle. This is used to scare away predators.