Zoology

Charcteristics of the Stinkpot Flattened Musk Turtle and Central American River Turtle



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Of all the more commonly known turtles such as the Box turtle, Snapping turtle, and Painted turtle, little may be known of the many other varieties of turtles that make their mark on the fascinating world of nature.

The book "The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Animals Of America", by Tom Jackson - gives us a brief look into the world of these little known reptiles.

1.) The Stinkpot (Sternoterus odoratus).

* Habitat/Physical Characteristics.

Named for the nasty smell they release to ward off predators, the stinkpot is found in South-Eastern United States and occupy shallow muddy waters.

Measuring in about 8-13cm. (3.25 - 5in.), these uniquely named turtles posses smooth, streamlineshells (often covered in mats of microscopic algae) that are suitable for living in running water (slow-flowing shallow streams and muddy lakes and ponds).

* Feeding Habits.

Stinkpots have a unique way of catching their prey. Situated on their chins are barbels. These barbels are used to sense the movements of prey buried deep in muddy stream beds. Once their food is caught, Stinkpot use their toughened "shelf" that's attached to their upper jaws to crush the shells of water snails and other prey.

* Life Span.

With a lifespan of 54 years, the female Stinkpot lays the smallest eggs of all turtles - only 1.5 x 2.5cm (0.5 x 1in).

2.) Flattened Musk Turtle (Sternotherus depressus).

* Habitat/Physical Characteristics.

A very rare species restricted to Black Warrior River in Alabama, the Flattened Musk turtlepossess a wider and more flattened shell than other turtles of its species (enabling it to squeeze between rocks on the river bed).

Measuring in about 7.5-10cm (3-4in), much like the Stinkpot turtle, the Flattened Musk turtle produces a bad-smelling liquid that deters its predators (by way of two glands under the edge of its shell).

* Feeding Habits.

The Flattened Musk turtle feeds on snails, mussels, crayfish, arachnids, clams, and insects. Interestingly, the adult turtles tend to feed at night, where the juveniles feed in twilight and the Flattened Musk hatchling's hunt during the daytime.

* Lifespan.

In addition to their lifespan being unknown, the female Flattened Musk turtle normally lays two eggs twice a year.

3.) Central American River Turtle (Dermatemys mawii).

* Habitat/Characteristics.

These large turtles live in a range of habitats throughout northern Central America - Southern Mexico to Guatemala and Honduras (exclusion do include the Yucatan Peninsula).

Considered the most aquatic of all turtles, the Central American River turtle has the ability to live in all types of water. The fact that some are found with barnacles on their shells, suggest that they are able to survive in salty water as well.

Measuring in at 65cm (25.5in) long, this endangered species is a large river turtle that possesses broad, smooth, streamlined shells (although the younger turtles have a ridge along the center line above the spine - which gradually disappears the older they get).

Spending much of their time submerged under water, the Central American River turtle rises occasionally to the surface to breath, and is not a great land rover.

* Feeding Habits.

The Central American River turtle feed primarily on aquatic plants such as river grass, however their diets also consist of fruits that have fallen into the water.

Interestingly however, the young Central American River turtles are carnivores - consuming crustaceans, mollusks, and perhaps fish.

* Lifespan.

The lifespan of this turtle is 30 years, and the females lay about 6-20 eggs during the rainy season.

These are just three of the little known turtles known to the world of nature, just a mere drop in the bucket of the large varieties known and unknown to man.

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