What is that dinosaur? Its an alligator snapping turtle! Quite a unique species, huh?

Ivana performing a blood draw from the dorsal tail vein of an alligator snapping turtle

Let’s start with the highlights, shall we? On Thursday and Friday morning Bryce and Ivana had the opportunity to help with annual exams, swabbing, blood draws, and blood counts on the colony of 60 alligator snapping turtles (Macrochelys temminckii). These turtles are part of Ethan Kessler’s work. He is a graduate student working on his PhD under primary investigator Dr. Mike Dreslik.

The last known alligator snapping turtle in Illinois was found in 1984 and thought to be extirpated from the state. The Illinois Department of Natural Resources and the Illinois Natural History Survey began reintroduction and recovery efforts in Illinois recently. It was an incredible opportunity to work with these species and everyone in the lab. See pictures throughout this post for some fun turtle-y pics! To learn more about the project going on in the lab click on this link: https://vetmed.illinois.edu/wel/alligator-snapping-turtle-health-project/

Bryce with his new best friend: the alligator snapping turtle

But back to the species that really matters….our amazing bearded dragons! Big news on Bryce’s end with their research! This past week he finished his thrombocyte/leukocyte rich pilot study. This means he can start his ACTUAL study on bearded dragon blood counts. The ultimate goal of his study is to create a VALIDATED PROTOCOL to create thrombocyte/leukocyte rich plasma for bearded dragons. This protocol should ultimately improve the care that ill bearded dragons can receive in a veterinary hospital.

And what is going on with me? I am still collecting data for my rat temperature comparison study and finished data collection on my guinea pig retrospective. (Hey, mammals are cool too!). I’ve also started training Eliana on everything it takes to care for our colony of bearded dragons. She’s doing amazing….it’s a LOT to care for this colony but they are totally worth it! If you want to learn more about Eliana, read this blog post: https://vetmed.illinois.edu/wel/someone-new-this-way-comes-introducing-eliana/

Stay tuned for our next blog post, it will include more bearded dragon information, more about our personal research, and maybe some highlights about Dr. Keller, Dr. Webb, and turtle information! Cheers!

Shout out to Brina and Katy from Team Turtle for getting all the supplies together for ASTs! To see their blog posts follow this link: https://vetmed.illinois.edu/wel/author/boxturtle19/