3" to 4 7/8 ". Elongated oval carapace, smooth and slightly arched, olive to dark brown to near black. No enlarged marginal scutes. Yellow brown plastron, may have dark markings. Plastron considerably larger than that of musk turtles. Two hinges in plastron with 11 scutes. Plastron notched in rear in the male. Notch is absent or reduced in female. Two light yellow stripes on each side of head of hippocrepis. Skin areas dark olive to almost black. Barbels on chin and underside of neck. Male has relatively long tail, ends in spine, rear legs have rough scale patches on inner surface.
Shallow, soft bottomed, slow moving water with abundant aquatic plants. Bayous, swamps, lagoons, ditches, small ponds. Tolerates brackish water.
Primarily aquatic, bottom dwelling. On land after rains, early morning, for nesting. Basks in shallow water with carapace exposed. When bothered, excretes smelly substance from musk glands located on the sides, where skin meets the underside of carapace. Often seen on roads. Some are feisty and do not hesitate to bite.
Matures in 5 - 7 years. Breeding mid-March to May. Lays 1 to 6 oval 1 inch long hard shelled pinkish or bluish-white eggs, usually in June. Lays in 3 - 5 " nest in sandy soil or vegetative debris. May produce several clutches.
Worms, crickets, snails, slugs, fish, beetles, tadpoles, insect larvae, carrion. Has been known to eat out of water.
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