We started this week nice and early on Monday morning  setting a plethora (27!) of traps along the Des Plaines river with Paul from the USDA! While we didn’t catch any turtles that day, Kami and I did get some good practice with using the waders. Each of the different species we work with have a preferred substrate type; such as softshells preferring sandier areas that they can bury themselves in! Conveniently, the stretch of the river we planted our traps in contained both an area with sandy substrate and a moderate current, and a stretch of backwater with muddy substrate and no current!


Different types of substrate and current strength means different methods of maneuvering through the water in our waders that Kami and I didn’t quite catch onto fast enough. By the end of Tuesday both of us had dunked our waders and went home a bit more wet than we anticipated. This also meant, as part of tradition, we also both owed the group dunkin donuts to enjoy later in the week!


Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday all went relatively similarly to each other. Kami, Paul, Dr. John, and I (plus Nick from Kane county on Friday) went out each morning at 6:30AM to check all 27 traps to see if we caught any turtles. Tuesday was our best catch day having caught 4 softshells and a variety of other species! Kami was ecstatic and she even was able to master her softshell venipuncture!


Wednesday was a little different. Kami and I went our separate ways and as she continued to work on turtles, I got the chance to work on some rather cute kestrel babies in addition to snakes. It’s currently the beginning of banding season for our little flighted friends so I went out with some members of the cook county forest preserve team and Dr. John to assist in the process! Did you know baby kestrels can have heart rates in the 500s?


From there we went to our snake grounds, where we found 2 snakes hiding under coverboards; another gravid DeKay’s brownsnake and a garter snake! We sampled them both and then released them where we found them. Our trusted snake expert Liz has been busy helping out with fawning season so our snake time has been cut down for the time being but, next week we should begin looking for snakes at a new location known for its abundance of watersnakes.


So as a fun way to end this weeks blog and commemorate dunking our waders in the river, here is our ranking of what we believe each turtle would be as a donut from Dunkin Donuts!

Common Snapping Turtle – Cruller 

Painted Turtle  –  Strawberry Glazed Donut with Sprinkles


Red Eared Slider – Jelly Filled Donut


Musk Turtle – Chocolate Munchkin ‘AKA the Chocolate Muskin’


Spiny Softshell Turtle – A Pancake 


Weekly Capture Count

39 snappers

13 sliders

6 painted

5 softshells

1 garter snake

1 DeKays brownsnake