Recognized Subspecies in VA: None
Size: 3 - 4 inches
Status: Least Concern
The Common Musk Turtle is a small turtle that frequents almost any bodies of water in most of the state. This turtle can often be seen foraging in shallow waters, especially at night, or occasionally basking in the early morning. This species will leave bodies of water to relocate or to lay eggs, meaning it is not too weird to see this species in the road in the mornings.
Common Musk Turtles have a keeled shell, that rounds with age. This species has dark skin with two clear white-yellow stripes that run down the face from the snout, but these fade with age. Old individuals may turn brown with black freckles. This species has large, pinkish gaps between the scutes on the plasteron. These are the scent glands that create that strange odor that gives this species its name.
Similar Species: Common Musk are most often confused for Eastern Mud Turtles, which lack striped faces and the scent glands on the plasteron. Mud Turtles also have a hardened hook on their tail-tip. The Striped Mud Turtle is very similar, but these too lack the scent glands and have a hooked upper jaw.
Maps and External Sources
Herping Virginia encourages all naturalists to practice ethical, safe, and sustainable herping. The use of proper herping methods and techniques is beneficial to both wildlife and herpers. Visit the links below for more information.