Ben here with today's edition of #BenInNature presented by our friends at Carter Bank & Trust!

Ben here with today's edition of #BenInNature presented by our friends at Carter Bank & Trust!

Ben here with today's edition of #BenInNature presented by our friends at Carter Bank & Trust!

The increasingly inaccurately-named Herp Month continues into its fifth week with our countdown of the top five rarest turtles in Virginia! We're kicking things off with our number five pick: Sternotherus minor peltifer, the stripe-necked musk turtle!

This turtle is quite small (though not the smallest species in Virginia, which we'll look at later this week), averaging just 3-4 inches in length as an adult! These turtles are completely aquatic and are restricted to rivers and tributaries. Running water seems to be important to their lifestyle and they're not often spotted in ponds. They're mostly carnivorous and seem to prefer eating small freshwater mollusks.

While these turtles are occasionally spotted basking, they spend the vast majority of their time underwater. In fact, they can remain submerged for months at a time because they have the ability to absorb oxygen from the water through the lining in their mouth and throat!

These turtles are found from extreme southwestern Virginia and eastern Tennessee down to the Gulf and the Pearl River in Mississippi. If you're hoping to spot one in Virginia, it's going to be a pretty difficult search; they have only been recorded in the counties of Lee and Scott in the commonwealth's southwestern tip.

Thank you to the Virginia Herpetological Society ( for the use of this photo, which was taken by John White.

ABOUT #BenInNature
Social distancing can be difficult, but it presents a great opportunity to become reacquainted with nature. In this series of posts, Administrator of Science Ben Williams ventures outdoors to record a snapshot of the unique sights that can be found in the natural world. New updates are posted Monday - Friday, with previous posts highlighted on the weekends. This series of posts is made possible thanks to the support of VMNH Corporate Partner Carter Bank & Trust (

If you discover something in nature that you would like help identifying, be sure to message us right here on Facebook with a picture (please include location and date of picture) and we'll have our experts help you identify it!

map of Virginia and surrounding areas

Please Visit Us Soon


Tuesday - Saturday: 10am - 4pm
Sunday - Monday: Closed


$10 for ages 18-59
$5 for ages 3-17, seniors 60+, and college students
FREE for children under 3, museum members, and members of ASTC participating institutions

My 4 year old son loves going to the museum. The exhibits are educational, interactive and kid-friendly.

Beth Deathrage

Hear More  arrow