Family Kinosternidae: Mud and Musk turtles

The family Kinosternidae consists of four genera and 27 species. Four species belong to the genus Sternotherus (musk turtles), and nineteen belong to the genus Kinosternon (mud turtles). The family Kinosternidae is distributed from southeastern Canada to the United States east of the Rockies and southward to Brazil.  These are small turtles, with the largest species in Texas achieving a maximum length close to 7 inches (17.8 cm).  Members of this family are aquatic and sometimes seen patrolling the bottoms of brackish marshes, creeks, flooded fields, lakes, ponds, and rivers. Mud and musk turtles engage in moderate amounts of basking. However, their lifestyle allows a significant amount of algae to grow on their shells, observers occasionally mistake an algae-covered turtle for a rock.  Mud and musk turtles have a carapace that is oval-shaped and has twenty-three marginal scutes including the cervical scute. The plastron has ten to eleven scutes and the plastron of the mud turtle's (Kinosternon)  has two flexible hinges.


2 genera and 5 species of mud and musk turtles are found in Texas.


Yellow mud turtle (Kinosternon flavescens)

Big Bend mud turtle (Kinosternon hirtipes murrayi)

Mississippi mud turtle (Kinosternon subrubrum hippocrepis)

Razorback musk turtle (Sternotherus carinatus)

Common musk turtle or Stinkpot (Sternotherus odoratus)