Your Florida Backyard NSiS Home Page Your Florida Backyard Mud & Musk Turtles
Mud and musk turtles (family Kinosternidaae) are usually small with oblong shells. They are aquatic and tend to walk on the bottom rather than swim. When they bask, it is usually in shallow water with part of the shell exposed.
They have barbels on the chin and neck. They have short tails, males' longer than the females'. Males' tails have a claw-like tip. Also known as "stinkpots", they can release a foul-smelling fluid.

The Striped Mud Turtle, Kinosternon baurii, is found in shallow waters throughout the peninsula and in the Keys. Its shell is small (4.7"), oval, brown, and has no markings. It often wanders on land.
The Florida Mud Turtle, Kinosternon subrubrum steindachneri, is found throughout the state. It is found primarily near small, shallow bodies of water. Its oval shell is dark and unmarked. Stripes run from its nose over its eyes and down the side of its head. It grows to 5" in length. It is sometimes seen feeding on manure, which accounts for it being referred to as the "Cow Dung Cooter".
The Eastern Mud Turtle, Kinosternon subrubrum subrubrum, is found across the panhandle and northern Florida. It is similar in appearance to the Florida Mud Turtle.

The Loggerhead Musk Turtle, Sternotherus minor minor, is found in freshwater springs and spring runs in the panhandle and northern peninsula. It has a dark peaked shell and has black spots on its head. Although only 4.5" long, it has quite a bite.
The Stripe-neck Musk Turtle, Sternotherus minor peltifer, is found in the western panhandle. It is similar to the Loggerhead Musk Turtle but has a flatter shell.
The Common Musk Turtle, Sternotherus odoratus, is found throughout the state. Its high-domed shell is black. It hs two yellow stripes on each side of its head. It grows to 5.3" long. It has two glands that release a musky secretion when it is disturbed. It walks across the water's bottom at night, feeding on fish, crayfish, insects and carrion.

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