Day #1 Collison

May 16th 2016


It was a mostly sunny day at Middle Fork State Wildlife Area (a.k.a. Collison) with little to no wind. Collison, as a site, is right down the road from Kickapoo State Recreation Area. We captured nine turtles in total during our 2 hour search effort. Not only was it a beautiful day to search for turtles, it was also my birthday. The Turtle Team obviously made it one special day!

middle fork

Collison’s trail map. Turtle Team does not follow the trail too much, though!


A turtle embroidered CamelBak is right up Kayla’s alley when it comes to a birthday gift.

Overview of the nine turtles captured today

One of the turtles was found by a human, rather than a canine. When this occurs, we note in our databook that this capture was an incidental finding.


We notch designated scutes on the turtle shell each time we capture a turtle. Notching different scutes creates a unique, permanent identification code of that individual turtle. If we capture the turtle again, we are able to identify it and realize that is it a recaptured turtle. Seven of the Eastern Box Turtles captured were recaptures!


Seven of the turtles captured were females. The larger ratio of females to males make sense regarding the way in which we search. The turtle dogs smell the scent trail that a turtle leaves after it moves around the habitat floor. Female turtles typically move around their environment more than male turtles do. This may be due to nesting behaviors of female turtles.


All nine of the Eastern Box Turtles are adults, rather than juveniles. It is difficult to visually see juvenile turtles in human visual search efforts. Similarly, the scent trail left behind a juvenile turtle would be harder to find for the canines.


The notch (circled in red) that we placed on a particular scute of this turtle is unique. A predator injury is not likely to look this clean-cut. Next time we capture this turtle, we will know that we have seen it before.


In this image we see the plastron (bottom aspect of shell) of a male Eastern Box Turtle. We know that this is a male due to the indentation or dip in the middle of his plastron that is circularly shaped.


Eastern Box Turtle

We run into turtles that have physical abnormalities or injuries and we take note of those too!

Here are the abnormalities of note from this search effort:

  • Abrasions or white discolorations to scutes
  • Missing digits
  • Assymetrical nares
By | 2017-08-09T10:09:32+00:00 June 8th, 2016|2016|0 Comments

About the Author:

Kayla is a third year vet student, her main focus is to explore the epidemiology of common pathogens of reptiles and amphibians in eastern and southern Illinois.