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Staurotypus salvinii.jpg
Staurotypus salvinii
(Chiapas giant musk turtle
or giant musk turtle)
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Testudines
Suborder: Cryptodira
Family: Kinosternidae
Subfamily: Staurotypinae
Genus: Staurotypus
Wagler, 1830

Staurotypus is a genus of aquatic turtles, commonly known as giant musk turtles, Mexican musk turtles, or three-keeled musk turtles, in the family Kinosternidae. The genus contains two recognized species, which are endemic to Mexico and Central America. Both species are sold and bred as pets.


The following two species are recognized as being valid.[1]

Geographic distribution

Both species of the genus Staurotypus are native to Mexico and Central America. S. salvinii is found primarily in Mexico, in the states of Oaxaca and Chiapas, but ranges south into Guatemala, El Salvador, and Belize. S. triporcatus is also found primarily in Mexico, and is more widespread, found in the states of Veracruz, Tabasco, Chiapas, Yucatán, and Campeche, and ranges south into Belize, Guatemala, and Honduras.[citation needed]

Staurotypus triporcatus (Mexican musk turtle or narrow-bridged musk turtle)
Staurotypus triporcatus
(Mexican musk turtle or
narrow-bridged musk turtle)


Species in the genus Staurotypus are typically much larger than other species of Kinosternidae, attaining a straight carapace length of up to 36 cm (14 in), with males being significantly smaller than females. Typically brown, black, or green in color, with yellow undersides, the carapace is distinguished by three distinct ridges, or keels, which run the length.[citation needed]

Staurotypus turtles exhibit XX/XY sex determination, in contrast to the temperature-dependent sex determination of most turtles.[2]


Like other musk turtle species, Staurotypus are carnivorous, eating various types of aquatic invertebrates, as well as fish and carrion.[citation needed]


  1. ^ Genus Staurotypus. The Reptile Database.
  2. ^ Badenhorst, Daleen; Stanyon, Roscoe; Engstrom, Tag; Valenzuela, Nicole (2013-04-01). "A ZZ/ZW microchromosome system in the spiny softshell turtle, Apalone spinifera, reveals an intriguing sex chromosome conservation in Trionychidae". Chromosome Research. 21 (2): 137–147. doi:10.1007/s10577-013-9343-2. ISSN 1573-6849.

Further reading