Stinkpot turtle (Sternotherus odoratus)

AKA: Common musk turtle

Stinkpots are a very interesting turtle to care for. They originate from parts of Canada and the USA, loving shallow ponds that are well covered with leaves and logs. These are some of the smallest turtles, usually only growing to 5”-6” in shell length. We would consider these reptiles to be of a high beginner care level if you have the right equipment for them.


Our babies like to bask on a dry dock under a heat lamp. We keep babies (up to about 3” shell length) in 6” of water, slowly increasing the depth until 12” when they are adults. Make sure there are always lots of plants and decor that will assist the stinkpot in getting to the surface to breathe We do not put any gravel on the bottom of our tanks, these are bottom swelling turtles who tend to think that gravel is food and eating it can cause major digestive issues.

Supply list:

The key to owning a lower maintenance (and not smelly) turtle is a good sized aquarium and a properly sized filter. These will be your 2 biggest purchases.

Tank: 30” long and 12” wide. This is the smallest tank we would consider using for an adult. A baby does not need a small tank, we would advise to purchase your adult tank now and put the baby in there with shallower water (6”) and lots of accessories. Upgraded tank: Your stinkpot will love the biggest tank you can get him. Our preferred tank for an adult is 36” long and 18” wide. Remember that you are always looking at maximizing the floor space, total gallons is not a good measure of size for a tank with these turtles.

Filter: Our favorite tank filter is the Tetra Whisper, they can be used in shallow water and can be found at Walmart. This is a great filter for when your turtle is small. Make sure to always over filter your turtle, use a filter that's rated for at least twice the number of gallons that you actually have in your tank. Upgraded filter: A good canister filter (like API Filstar) will keep your tank clean. Remember to over filter your tank.

Basking lamp: A heat lamp that will get the basking area to around 35*c is essential. A 50 watt flood bulb will be a good place to start, but monitor the temperature regularly because the temperature of your house an the distance that the bulb is from the basking area makes a big difference. Place the basking ledge placed underneath the heat bulb

Hide: These guys do like to hide at times, and they will love a fully submerged hide.

Plants: We use both plastic and live plants in our turtle tanks. Plenty of plants to climb and reach the surf ace and to hide under will keep your turtle thriving.

Cuttlebone: We make sure there is always a piece of cuttlebone in the tank. It's a great source of calcium.

Food: We feed our turtles a variety of food and they should easily adapt to whichever you choose. Nutrafin Max is a favorite, as is Repashy Grub Pie (mix it into the gel form and it sinks to the bottom of the tank)

Up to 3 months old, feed him daily as much as he will eat in 10 minutes.

From 3-6 months old, feed him three to four times a week as much as he will eat in 10 minutes.

Over 6 months old, feed twice a week as much as he will eat in 10 minutes.