Disclaimer:

The Nonindigenous Occurrences section of the NAS species profiles has a new structure. The section is now dynamically updated from the NAS database to ensure that it contains the most current and accurate information. Occurrences are summarized in Table 1, alphabetically by state, with years of earliest and most recent observations, and the tally and names of drainages where the species was observed. The table contains hyperlinks to collections tables of specimens based on the states, years, and drainages selected. References to specimens that were not obtained through sighting reports and personal communications are found through the hyperlink in the Table 1 caption or through the individual specimens linked in the collections tables.




Sternotherus odoratus
Sternotherus odoratus
(Eastern Musk Turtle)
Reptiles-Turtles
Native Transplant
Translate this page with Google
Français Deutsch Español Português Russian Italiano Japanese

Copyright Info
Sternotherus odoratus (Latreille in Sonnini and Latreille, 1801)

Common name: Eastern Musk Turtle

Synonyms and Other Names: common musk turtle, stinkpot, stinking-jim

Taxonomy: available through www.itis.govITIS logo

Identification: Sternotherus odoratus is a small kinosternid (musk or mud turtle) with a carapace (upper shell) length of 51-137 mm (2-over 5 in) (Ernst et al., 1994; Conant and Collins, 1998).  Unlike similar species in the genus Kinosternon, the plastron (lower shell) is relatively small and has only one movable hinge, located somewhat anteriorly, and the pectoral scute (shield or lamina) is four-sided rather than triangular (Conant and Collins, 1998; Powell et al., 1998).  Unlike other Sternotherus, Eastern Musk Turtles have two light lines (lacking in older individuals), often yellow, on the sides of the head, and barbels on both the chin and throat (Ernst et al., 1994; Mitchell, 1994; Conant and Collins, 1998; Powell et al., 1998).  The carapace is highly domed in adults, but younger individuals have a vertebral keel (ridge) (Ernst et al., 1994; Conant and Collins, 1998).  Juveniles have yellow markings on the blackish plastron (Conant and Collins, 1998).  Compare this description with some other kinosternid species accounts on this website titled "Kinosternon scorpioides (Linnaeus, 1766)" and "Kinosternon subrubrum (Lacepède, 1788)."  Eastern Musk Turtles have been widely illustrated by numerous authors (Carr, 1952; Smith, 1961; Ernst and Barbour, 1972, 1989; Mount, 1975; Lazell, 1976; Behler and King, 1979; Pritchard, 1979; Martof et al., 1980; Caldwell and Collins, 1981; Vogt, 1981; Smith and Brodie, 1982; DeGraaf and Rudis, 1983; Cook, 1984; Obst, 1986; Garrett and Barker, 1987; Green and Pauley, 1987; [Sievert] and Sievert, [1988]; Dundee and Rossman, 1989; Ashton and Ashton, 1991; Carmichael and Williams, 1991; Collins, 1993; Klemens, 1993; Ernst et al., 1994; Mitchell, 1994; Palmer and Braswell, 1995; Conant and Collins, 1998; Powell et al., 1998; Bartlett and Bartlett, 1999a, b; Behler, 1999; Etchberger, 1999; Phillips et al., 1999; Johnson, 2000; Hulse et al., 2001; Minton, 2001).

Size: 51-137 mm carapace length

Native Range: Eastern Musk Turtles are widely distributed throughout the eastern United States from the New England area (including southern Maine) and southern Ontario, Canada, southward (avoiding higher elevations in the northern Appalachians) to Florida, westward to Wisconsin, Illinois, southern Missouri, eastern Kansas and Oklahoma, and eastern and central Texas (Martof, 1956; Smith, 1961; Webb, 1970; Mount, 1975; Lazell, 1976; Stevenson, 1976; Martof et al., 1980; Caldwell and Collins, 1981; Vogt, 1981; Reynolds and Seidel, 1982; DeGraaf and Rudis, 1983; Lohoefener and Altig, 1983; Cook, 1984; Garrett and Barker, 1987; Green and Pauley, 1987; Moler, 1988; [Sievert] and Sievert, [1988]; Carpenter and Krupa, 1989; Dundee and Rossman, 1989; Ernst and Barbour, 1989; Ashton and Ashton, 1991; Carmichael and Williams, 1991; Gibbons and Semlitsch, 1991; Iverson, 1992; Collins, 1993; Klemens, 1993; Ernst et al., 1994; Mitchell, 1994; Palmer and Braswell, 1995; Conant and Collins, 1998; Bartlett and Bartlett, 1999a, b; Etchberger, 1999; Phillips et al., 1999; Dixon, 2000; Johnson, 2000; King, 2000; Hulse et al., 2001; Minton, 2001).

Hydrologic Unit Codes (HUCs) Explained
Interactive maps: Point Distribution Maps

Nonindigenous Occurrences:

Table 1. States with nonindigenous occurrences, the earliest and latest observations in each state, and the tally and names of HUCs with observations†. Names and dates are hyperlinked to their relevant specimen records. The list of references for all nonindigenous occurrences of Sternotherus odoratus are found here.

StateYear of earliest observationYear of last observationTotal HUCs with observations†HUCs with observations†
California198219821Central Coastal
North Carolina201320181Upper Catawba
Oregon199419941Pacific Northwest Region
Pennsylvania201520151Lower West Branch Susquehanna

Table last updated 10/12/2019

† Populations may not be currently present.


Means of Introduction: Unknown.  As with most introduced turtles, the S. odoratus found in California was a probably released or escaped pet.

Status: Not established.  The only individual found was collected (D. Holland, personal communication 1997).

Impact of Introduction: There are no kinosternids native to California, but the impact of an established population of Eastern Musk Turtles on indigenous ecosystems probably would be negative.

Remarks: The taxonomy of S. odoratus has been reviewed or summarized by Reynolds and Seidel (1982), Zug (1986), Iverson (1989, 1991, 1998), and Iverson et al. (2000).  The literature and natural history of Eastern Musk Turtles has been reviewed or summarized by Reynolds and Seidel (1982), Gibbons and Semlitsch (1991), and Ernst et al. (1994).  Scientific and standard English names follow Crother (2008).

 

Sternotherus odoratus is an adaptable, primarily nocturnal, highly aquatic turtle that can occur in any body of water unless it is brackish, although still waters are preferred (Ernst et al., 1994; Conant and Collins, 1998).  Eastern Musk Turtles are generalized omnivores that feed on a wide variety of aquatic fauna and vegetation, including carrion and even kitchen refuse (Ernst et al., 1994).  Occasionally they will forage on land at dusk (Ernst et al., 1994).  Although these turtles rarely bask, when they do they can climb high into trees, sometimes ascending into branches more than 3 m (about 10 ft) above ground (Vogt, 1981; Ernst et al., 1994; Conant and Collins, 1998).  Boaters can be startled when these little turtles drop into their boats from the trees (Vogt, 1981; Conant and Collins, 1998).  In some waterways, populations of S. odoratus can be quite dense (Conant and Collins, 1998).  Females lay 1-9 hard-shelled eggs, 2-4 clutches annually, in terrestrial nests that may be dug out of the soil, placed under some surface cover, or simply on open ground, barely covered amongst leaf mold or rotting vegetable matter (Klemens, 1993; Ernst et al., 1994; Palmer and Braswell, 1995).

References: (click for full references)

Ashton, R. E., Jr., and P. S. Ashton. 1991. Handbook of Reptiles and Amphibians of Florida. Part Two. Lizards, Turtles & Crocodilians. Revised Second Edition. Windward Publishing, Inc., Miami. 191 pp.

 

Bartlett, R. D., and P. P. Bartlett. 1999a. A Field Guide to Florida Reptiles and Amphibians. Gulf Publishing Company, Houston. 280 pp.

Bartlett, R. D., and P. D. Bartlett. 1999b. A Field Guide to Texas Reptiles and Amphibians. Gulf Publishing Company, Houston. 331 pp.

Behler, J. L. 1999. National Audubon Society First Field Guide. Reptiles. Scholastic, Inc., New York. 160 pp.

Behler, J. L., and F. W. King. 1979. The Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Reptiles and Amphibians. Alfred A. Knopf, Inc., New York. 743 pp.

Caldwell, J. P., and J. T. Collins. 1981. Turtles in Kansas. AMS Publishing, Lawrence, Kansas. 67 pp.

Carmichael, P., and W. Williams. 1991. Florida's Fabulous Reptiles and Amphibians. World Publications, Tampa. 120 pp.

Carpenter, C. C., and J. J. Krupa. 1989. Oklahoma Herpetology. An Annotated Bibliography. University of Oklahoma Press, Norman. 258 pp.

Carr, A. 1952. Handbook of Turtles. The Turtles of the United States, Canada, and Baja California.  Comstock Publishing Associates, Ithaca and London. 542 pp.

Collins, J. T. 1993. Amphibians and Reptiles in Kansas. Third Edition, Revised. Museum of Natural History, The University of Kansas, Lawrence. 397 pp.

Conant, R., and J. T. Collins. 1998. A Field Guide to Reptiles & Amphibians. Eastern and Central North America. Third Edition, Expanded. Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston. 616 pp.

Cook, F. R. 1984. Introduction to Canadian Amphibians and Reptiles. National Museums of Canada, Ottawa. 200 pp.

Crother, B.I. (chair). Committee on Standard and English and Scientific Names. 2008. Scientific and standard English names of amphibians and reptiles of North America north of Mexico, with comments regarding confidence in our understanding. Society for the Study of Amphibians and  Reptiles Herpetological Circular. No. 37. iii + 86p.

DeGraaf, R. M., and D. D. Rudis. 1983. Amphibians and Reptiles of New England. Habitats and Natural History. The University of Massachusetts Press, Amherst. 85 pp.

Dixon, J. R. 2000. Amphibians and Reptiles of Texas. Second Edition. Texas A & M University Press, College Station. 421 pp.

Dundee, H. A., and D. A. Rossman. 1989. The Amphibians and Reptiles of Louisiana. Louisiana State University Press, Baton Rouge and London. 300 pp + unattached erratum.

Ernst, C. H., and R. W. Barbour. 1972. Turtles of the United States and Canada. The University Press of Kentucky, Lexington. 347 pp.

Ernst, C. H., and R. W. Barbour. 1989. Turtles of the World. Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington, D.C. and London. 313 pp.

Ernst, C. H., J. E. Lovich, and R. W. Barbour. 1994. Turtles of the United States and Canada. Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington and London. 578 pp.

Etchberger, C. R. 1999. Common musk turtle. Sternotherus odoratus. Pp. 126-129, plate XXI. In: M. L. Hunter, A. J. K. Calhoun, and M. McCollough (editors). Maine Amphibians and Reptiles. The University of Maine Press, Orono, Maine. 254 pp. + CD.

Garrett, J. M., and D. G. Barker. 1987. A Field Guide to Reptiles and Amphibians of Texas. Texas Monthly Press, Austin. 225 pp.

Gibbons, J. W., and R. D. Semlitsch. 1991. Guide to the Reptiles and Amphibians of the Savannah River Site. The University of Georgia Press, Athens, Georgia, and London. 131 pp.

Green, N. B., and T. K. Pauley. 1987. Amphibians and Reptiles in West Virginia. University of Pittsburgh Press, Pittsburgh. 241 pp.

Holland, D. C. 1997. Personal communication—Herpetologist, Fallbrook, California.

Hulse, A. C., C. J. McCoy, and E. Censky. 2001. Amphibians and Reptiles of Pennsylvania and the Northeast. Comstock Publishing Associates, Ithaca. 419 pp.

Iverson, J. [B.] 1989. Sternotherus odoratus (Latreille 1801). P. 67. In: F. W. King and R. L. Burke (editors). Crocodilian, Tuatara, and Turtle Species of the World. A Taxonomic and Geographic Reference. The Association of Systematics Collections, Washington, DC. 216 pp.

Iverson, J. B. 1991. Phylogenetic hypotheses for the evolution of modern kinosternine turtles. Herpetological Monographs 5:1-27.

Iverson, J. B. 1992. A Revised Checklist with Distribution Maps of the Turtles of the World. John B. Iverson, Richmond, Indiana. 363 pp.

Iverson, J. B. 1998. Molecules, morphology, and mud turtle phylogenetics (Family Kinosternidae). Chelonian Conservation and Biology 3(1):113-117.

Iverson, J. [B.], P. [A.] Meylan, and M. [E.] Seidel. 2000. Testudines—turtles. Pp. 75-82. In: B. I. Crother (chair), and Committee on Standard English and Scientific Names (editors). Scientific and standard English names of amphibians and reptiles of North America north of Mexico, with comments regarding confidence in our understanding. Society for the Study of Amphibians and Reptiles Herpetological Circular (29):i-iii, 1-82.

Johnson, T. R. 2000. The Amphibians and Reptiles of Missouri. Revised and Expanded Second Edition. Missouri Department of Conservation, Conservation Commission of the State of Missouri, Jefferson City. 400 pp.

King, F. W. 2000. Florida Museum of Natural History's Checklist of Florida Amphibians and Reptiles [online]. Florida Museum of Natural History, University of Florida, Gainesville. Available on URL: http://www.flmnh.ufl.edu/herps/FL-GUIDE/Flaherps.htm.

Klemens, M. W. 1993. Amphibians and reptiles of Connecticut and adjacent regions. State Geological and Natural History Survey of Connecticut Bulletin (112):i-xii, 1-318.

Lazell, J. D., Jr. 1976. This Broken Archipelago. Quadrangle/The New York Times Book Co., New York. 260 pp.

Lohoefener, R., and R. Altig. 1983. Mississippi herpetology. Mississippi State University Research Center Bulletin (1):i-vi, 1-66.

Martof, B. S. 1956. Amphibians and Reptiles of Georgia. University of Georgia Press, Athens, Georgia. 94 pp.

Martof, B. S., W. M. Palmer, J. R. Bailey, and J. R. Harrison III. 1980. Amphibians and Reptiles of the Carolinas and Virginia. The University of North Carolina Press, Chapel Hill. 264 pp.

Minton, S. A., Jr. 2001. Amphibians & Reptiles of Indiana. Revised Second Edition. Indiana Academy of Science, Indianapolis. 404 pp.

Mitchell, J. C. 1994. The Reptiles of Virginia. Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington and London. 352 pp.

Moler, P. 1988. A Checklist of Florida's Amphibians and Reptiles. Nongame Wildlife Program, Florida Game and Fresh Water Fish Commission, Tallahassee. 18 pp.

Mount, R. H. 1975. The Reptiles and Amphibians of Alabama. Auburn University Agricultural Experiment Station, Auburn. 347 pp.

Obst, F. J. 1986. Turtles, Tortoises and Terrapins. St Martin's Press, New York. 231 pp.

Palmer, W. M., and A. L. Braswell.1995. Reptiles of North Carolina. The University of North Carolina Press for North Carolina State Museum of Natural Sciences, Chapel Hill and London. 412 pp.

Phillips, C. A., R. A. Brandon, and E. O. Moll. 1999. Field Guide to Amphibians and Reptiles of Illinois. Illinois Natural History Survey, Champaign, Illinois. 282 pp.

Powell, R., J. T. Collins, and E. D. Hooper, Jr. 1998. A Key to Amphibians & Reptiles of the Continental United States and Canada. University Press of Kansas, Lawrence. 131 pp.

Pritchard, P. C. H. 1979. Encyclopedia of Turtles. T.F.H. Publications, Inc., Neptune, New Jersey. 895 pp.

Reynolds, S. L., and M. E. Seidel. 1982. Sternotherus odoratus. Catalogue of American Amphibians and Reptiles (287):1-4.

[Sievert], G., and L. Sievert. [1988]. A Field Guide to Reptiles of Oklahoma. Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation, Oklahoma City. 96 pp.

Smith, H. M., and E. D. Brodie, Jr. 1982. A Guide to Field Identification. Reptiles of North America. Golden Press, New York. 240 pp.

Smith, P. A. 1961. The amphibians and reptiles of Illinois. Illinois Natural History Survey Bulletin 28(1):[i-v], 1-298. (Reprinted 1986.)

Stevenson, H. S. 1976. Vertebrates of Florida. Identification and Distribution. University Presses of Florida, Gainesville. 607 pp.

Vogt, R. C. 1981. Natural History of Amphibians and Reptiles in Wisconsin. The Milwaukee Public Museum, Milwaukee. 205 pp.

Webb, R. G. 1970. Reptiles of Oklahoma. University of Oklahoma Press, Norman. 370 pp.

Zug, G. R. 1986. Sternotherus. Catalogue of American Amphibians and Reptiles (397):1-3.

Author: Louis A. Somma, Pam Fuller, An

Revision Date: 10/28/2009

Citation Information:
Louis A. Somma, Pam Fuller, An, 2019, Sternotherus odoratus (Latreille in Sonnini and Latreille, 1801): U.S. Geological Survey, Nonindigenous Aquatic Species Database, Gainesville, FL, https://nas.er.usgs.gov/queries/FactSheet.aspx?SpeciesID=1269, Revision Date: 10/28/2009, Access Date: 11/17/2019

This information is preliminary or provisional and is subject to revision. It is being provided to meet the need for timely best science. The information has not received final approval by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and is provided on the condition that neither the USGS nor the U.S. Government shall be held liable for any damages resulting from the authorized or unauthorized use of the information.

Disclaimer:

The data represented on this site vary in accuracy, scale, completeness, extent of coverage and origin. It is the user's responsibility to use these data consistent with their intended purpose and within stated limitations. We highly recommend reviewing metadata files prior to interpreting these data.

Citation information: U.S. Geological Survey. [2019]. Nonindigenous Aquatic Species Database. Gainesville, Florida. Accessed [11/17/2019].

Contact us if you are using data from this site for a publication to make sure the data are being used appropriately and for potential co-authorship if warranted. For queries involving fish, please contact Matthew Neilson. For queries involving invertebrates, contact Amy Benson.