Eastern Musk Turtle – Sternotherus odoratus
The Eastern Musk turtle is small and shy, these turtles are seldom seen. Also known as the Stinkpot turtle, it is one of the worlds smallest turtles, seldom growing much longer than 4 inches.
They are thoroughly aquatic rarely leaving the water. Musk turtles inhabit many different types of aquatic habitats, but prefer still, shallow water, with plenty of aquatic vegetation such as lily pads. They are good swimmers but prefer to walk along the bottom to forage for crustaceans and insects. They have an oval shaped, smooth, domed shell that is black to brown with or without some streaking. The skin is black to gray and two light yellow stripes can be seen around its eye. The belly (or plastron) is smaller than the top shell leaving a lot of skin exposed.
In Ontario, numbers are in decline due to habitat loss and habitat fragmentation. Road mortality also adds to this threat. Musk turtles are protected from collection and ownership in Ontario under the Fish & Wildlife Conservation Act. Listed as threatened in Ontario (listed as Special Concern federally), the species and its habitat are also protected under the Endangered Species Act.
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