Sternotherus - from two Greek words: sternon, breast or chest and thairos, hinge, in reference to the hinged lower shell

odoratus - from the Latin word meaning "to have an odour" referring to the strong scent produced by the musk glands

True to its name, the musk turtle emits a strong odour when handled. This scent is produced by two glands, adjacent to the bridge between the carapace and the plastron, which exude a yellowish liquid. These turtles are also frequently called stinkpots. This glandular secretion has a strong musky odour which deters predators but may also be used in courtship. The musk turtle is highly aquatic and is rarely seen out of water except during the nesting season.