Turtles of the Arboretum

In summer of 2023, the INHS PaCE Lab began monitoring the turtle populations at the University of Illinois Arboretum ponds near Japan House. Using hoop traps, baited with sardines, turtles are captured, measured, given an individual mark, and released. At least 8 species of turtles have been observed in the ponds, some of which are not native to this area. If you have a pet turtle that you do not want, it should not be released into the wild.

During 2023, visiting veterinary researcher Ny Aina Tiana Rakotoarisoa is gathering health information from the turtles, collecting blood samples, and swabbing the mouth and cloaca. Her analysis will detect common pathogens, stress levels, and assess the general health of the turtles. We trapped 8 nights over 2 weeks and captured 39 individual turtles of 6 species.

With its abundant turtle population and proximity to campus, this ongoing project will be able to provide valuable field research experience for students, and provide important information on the health of the ponds.

Hoop trap with two Red-eared Sliders
Trachemys scripta – Red-eared Slider – male (left), female (right)

While we appreciate and understand the concern expressed by visitors to the Japan House and Arboretum Ponds, please rest assured that the turtles in our traps are fine. We check the traps at least once every 24 hours. If you notice one of our traps, please do not move it or remove the turtles. If you have questions please contact Dr. Michael Dreslik.

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