Testudines Sternotherus odoratus -- Stinkpot
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Purple shade indicates vouchered specimens. Light blue (cyan)
shade indicates photographic records. Yellow shade indicates verified
sighting. Slanted hatch indicates pre-1980 records only
NOTE: Not all specimens upon which these maps are based have been verified.
Key Characteristics: Plastron with single, weakly developed hinge anterior to abdominal scute; some plastral scutes separated by soft fleshy tissue in adults; pectoral scutes squarish, contacting broadly at midline.
Similar Species: Yellow mud turtle, common mud turtle.
Description: Small (up to 13 cm CL) turtle with unpatterned, light brown to black carapace. Plastron light brown to yellow. Two light stripes on side of head (fade in old individuals). Barbels on chin and throat. Shell steeply peaked with prominent keel in young, becoming more rounded (with less obvious keel) with age. Male differs from female by having a large, swollen tail tipped with a claw, a divided patch of rough scales behind the knee, and greater amounts of soft tissue between plastral scutes.
Habitat: Permanently aquatic. Mud-bottomed habitats preferred (lakes, ponds, swamps, and slow-moving streams and rivers).
Natural History: Bottom dweller that sometimes emerges onto logs or climbs shoreline bushes to surprising heights to bask. Foods include plants, mollusks, insects, and worms (often from a fisherman's hook). Lays 4 to 5 elliptical (ca. 27 x 15 mm), brittle-shelled eggs up to three times during the May to July nesting season. Named for odiferous substances expelled from glands near the bridge of the shell.
Status: Particularly common in the southern third of Illinois.