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The Striped Mud Turtle (Kinosternon baurii) is a small turtle with a moderately domed shell and three characteristic stripes that extend laterally along the length of the carapace. Females are larger than males, reaching a max SCL of 13.8 cm, compared to a 10.4 cm SCL max in males. These turtles may be black, dark brown, tan, or a mahogany color, and some individuals may lack the carapace stripes all together. The plastron is olive to yellow in color, and two plastral hinges provide added protection to the turtle. The skin may be tan to black, and the head and neck may have dark mottling or a marbled pattern in some light colored individuals.

Mud turtles and musk turtles are small-to-moderate-sized turtles (Fig. 18.17), ranging in adult CL from 8 to 12 cm and from 15 to 27 cm (Kinosternon scorpioides); most species have a maximum adult shell length less than 18 cm. They are generally aquatic species and live in various waterways, including ephemeral pools, marshes and swamps, and large rivers and lakes. All are bottom walkers and poor swimmers. They forage and mate in water; however, some species hibernate on land and others, particularly tropical species, appear to forage on land during wet weather.

Scientific classification

  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Chordata
  • Class: Reptilia
  • Order: Testudines
  • Suborder: Cryptodira
  • Superfamily: Kinosternoidea
  • Family: Kinosternidae
  • Subfamily: Kinosterninae
  • Genus: Kinosternon


3-Striped Mud Turtles are most often found in quiet, ephemeral bodies of fresh water that are at least 60 cm (2′) deep. Their habitats contain soft bottoms and may include hardwood or cypress swamps, streams, canals, ponds, and bays. Adjacent terrestrial habitats that are often utilized are usually sandhills or pine flatwoods. Water may be either clear or tannic, having the appearance of tea. Individuals have been found in muskrat lodges, and juveniles may be found among floating water plants.


Yellow Mud turtles are omnivorous and opportunistic feeders. While they do eat some aquatic plants, their diet consists primarily of insects, crustaceans, mollusks, amphibians, fish, carrion, and earthworms. They almost always feed underwater, but there are several reports that they have been seen eating on land as well as a few studies that have demonstrated that some yellow mud turtles will feed on earthworms while buried underground.


The activity through winter varies among Kinosternon baurii populations depends on geographic location. In the southern extreme of the range, they are often active all year long, while in the north, they often hibernate, most often times in terrestrial hibernacula. Activity levels decline during hot weather in July and August.

Kinosternon images

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