Regular readers, please excuse today's foray into the land of the Chordata. Today at work we began a completely new venture. We are participating in a breeding and headstarting program for the Blanding's turtle (Emydoidea blandingii).
Blanding's turtle is an endangered species. It ranges across the upper Midwest from Nebraska to eastern Ontario. There are also populations in southeast New England. They live in sedge meadows, and are endangered mainly due to habitat destruction.
The headstarting program is part of an upgrade to the Museum's Mysteries of the Marsh exhibit. The turtles are living in a large tank that is lined with one-way glass. Visitors can see the turtles, but the turtles can't see, nor can they become used to, the people visiting them.
Five turtles arrived at the Museum in a plastic bucket today. Three are yearlings. We will rear them for a year and then they will be released into the wild in DuPage County. The other two turtles are subadult females. We are keeping them until they reach breeding age, when we will turn them over to the DuPage County Forest Preserve District for their captive breeding program. The juvenile and subadult turtles live in separate sections of the tank.
We are very excited to be participating in a conservation program for these turtles. I look forward to be working with a vertebrate. These guys are much lower maintenance than giant pandas.