Striped Mud Turtle
Kinosternon baurii

Common Name:

Striped Mud Turtle

Scientific Name:

Kinosternon baurii



Kinosternon is derived from the Greek word kineo which means "move" and sternon which means "chest". This refers to the hinged plastron.


baurii was assigned to honor Georg Hermann Carl Lugwig Baur a vertebrate morphologist and turtle expert.

Average Length:

3 - 4 in. (7.5 - 10 cm)

Virginia Record Length:

4.8 in. (12.3 cm)

Record length:

5 in. (12.7 cm)

PHYSICAL DESCRIPTION: The striped mud turtle is an olive brown turtle approximately 7-12 cm in length. Maximum known carapace length in VA is 123mm. The shell is nearly black with three light stripes though these may be obscure in most turtles in Virginia. Scutes are as follows: 11 marginals on each side, 4 pleurals on each side and 5 vertebrals. Carapace is usually rounded and smooth *10760,11090,11624*. Plastron is between 63-116mm in length and is olive to mahogany in color, sometimes with a darker outline around the scutes. It is about 82-95% of the carapace length and has hinges both posteriorly and anteriorly *10760*. Eastern musk turtles, Sternotherus odoratus, have small plastrons with only one hinge *11090,11624*. Skin is dark with 2 distinct light-colored stripes on each side of the head, one above and one below the tympanum. Lower beak is sharply curved *10760*. Females are slightly larger than males with a carapace length of 70-123mm, plastron length of 67-116mm, and weight 68-337g. Males comparatively were: 71-115mm CL, 63-94mm PL, and weight 63-221g. Males' cloacal opening extends past the edge of the shell, and there are patches of rough scales behind the thigh of the rear legs *10760*.

JUVENILES: Hatchlings are similar to adults except that they have a keel and the plastron is orange with blacks blotches along the midline *10760*.

CONFUSING SPECIES: Similar species are Sternotherus odoratus and Kinosternon subrubrum. S. odoratus has exposed skin in between the plastral scutes and K. subrubrum does not have the light stripes on the carapace *10760*.

REPRODUCTION: Courtship and mating occurs in spring with nesting from July to early October. The female lays one to four eggs that hatch in three to four months *11284,11624*. Female turtles have been found with oviductal eggs from July 29 to October 4. BEHAVIOR: Striped mud turtles are active from March (late) through October in Virginia. They are aquatic turtles but spend a lot of time on land though they are not baskers. They forage by walking along the muddy bottom of the waterway looking for seeds from plants, insects, mollusks, and algae. . They hibernate out of water buried under leaf litter in moist soil. They will try to bite when handled *10760,11624*.

ORIGIN: This species is native *10760*.

POPULATION PARAMETERS: Females reach sexual maturity at 5-6 years. They are loyal to home ponds and terrestrial retreats *10760*.

AQUATIC/TERRESTRIAL ASSOCIATIONS: Can not handle wetlands with salinities higher that 15 ppt. They seem to prefer dark water with organic substrate. It is probably preyed upon by many of the usual predators, raccoons, snapping turtles, skunks, and snakes *10760*.

References for Life History

  • 10760 - Mitchell, J. C., 1994, The Reptiles of Virginia, 352 pgs., Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington, DC
  • 11090 - Conant, R., J.T. Collins, 1991, A field guide to reptiles and amphibians of eastern and central North America, third edition, 450 pp pgs., Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston, MA
  • 11284 - Wilson, L.A., 1995, Land manager's guide to the amphibians and reptiles of the South, 360 pp. pgs., The Nature Conservancy, Southeastern Region, Chapel Hill, NC
  • 11624 - Mitchell, J. C., 2001, Personal Communication, Expert review for GAP Analysis Project, Mitchell Ecological Research LLC


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Verified County/City Occurrence

Charles City County
Chesterfield County
Hampton City
Henrico County
Isle of Wight County
James City County
King William County
Lancaster County
New Kent County
Petersburg City
Prince George County
Richmond County
Southampton County
Suffolk City
Surry County
Sussex County
Virginia Beach City
Williamsburg City
York County
Verified in 19 Counties/Cities.


Virginia is home to 28 species of frogs and toads.


We have a large diversity of salamanders consisting of 56 different species and subspecies.


Virginia is home to 9 native lizard species and two introduced species, the Mediterranean Gecko and the Italian Wall Lizard.


The Commonwealth is home to 34 species and subspecies of snake. Only 3 species are venomous.


Virginia has 25 species and subspecies of turtle. Five of these species are sea turtle.