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(genus Sternotherus), any of four species of small freshwater turtles belonging to the family Kinosternidae. Musk turtles are named for the strong, musky odour they emit when disturbed. They are found in eastern North America, usually in slow-moving waters. Highly aquatic animals, they seldom emerge onto land. Similar to small snapping turtles in appearance and pugnacious temperament, musk turtles are characterized by a small lower shell and by small, fleshy barbels on the chin. Their upper shell is oval, dull in colour, and usually about 8-13 cm (3-5 inches) long.