common musk turtle, hatchling
Bell in Gray, 1825
Sternotherus is a genus of aquatic turtles, known commonly as musk turtles, in the family Kinosternidae. The genus is endemic to North America and is closely related to Kinosternon. The most common species of Sternotherus in most of North America is Sternotherus odoratus, the common musk turtle or stinkpot; that entry has more information on the ecology of this group of turtles.
The genus Sternotherus occurs in southern Canada, as well as the United States and Mexico.
Turtles in the genus Sternotherus are very similar to the American mud turtles in the genus Kinosternon, but tend to have a more domed carapace, with a distinctive keel down the center of it. Sternotherus odoratus typically grows to only 8–14 cm (3.1–5.5 in) in straight carapace length at full maturity, with females often being larger than males.
All musk turtles are carnivorous, consuming various aquatic invertebrates, fish, and carrion.
Sternotherus is a highly aquatic genus. But some species, like the common musk turtle, are known to bask on fallen trees and coarse woody debris on shorelines.
Nota bene: A binomial authority in parentheses indicates that the species was originally described in a genus other than Sternotherus.