The Chronicles of Turtle Girl and Snake Girl


Turtle Girl: Kami

Snake Girl: Kate

On this weeks episode of, “The Chronicles of Turtle Girl and Snake Girl”, our fierce duo travels up to northern Cook County to set out tricky turtle traps and scout for slithery snakes.

It was a brisk Tuesday morning. Paul, the turtle tracking and snake wrangling guide, met turtle girl and snake girl the same site they trapped turtles at last week, except this week they came more prepared than ever. You see, last week was a test-run. This week was the real deal. They got a feel for where the best traps were set and focused on those areas, plus a few more sites that were promising for softshells. Paul walked over to the rusty park map at the edge of the parking lot and drew out the game plan. Everyone sprang into action and started trapping alongside the river, using two canoes to pull traps. That sounds like fun and games until you have to paddle upriver with 8 traps strapped to your canoe… but it’s no sweat to turtle girl and snake girl. As they prepared to move to another site, they saw one of the traps shaking back and forth. Paul sighed said it was probably another snapper and walked down to release it. He lifted up the trap and his facial expression changed immediately. He took a deep breath and yelled out, “TWO SOFTSHELLS!”. Turtle girl and snake girl stood in awe as Paul grabbed the two softshells out of the trap and brought them to shore. Trap-setting days never guarantee a turtle, but today the crew was on fire. Better yet, at the last trap site they all managed to wrangle out a snake from a pile of rocks. What. A. Day. Turtle girl and snake girl never miss a beat.

On Wednesday turtle girl and snake girl had a fellow WEL student join them – Kane County alumni and 2023 Illinois Vet Med graduate Dr. Alexis! Alexis is a staple in the little WEL family, and she is always looking forward to helping in the field. The mighty Dr. John joined the crew as well and he was ready for a great day. Turtle girl and snake girl had an important mission today: Mission Get Alexis Her First Softshell. Paul went downstream as turtle girl and Alexis went upstream. They were all thinking the same thing, “Let’s get a softshell”. After half an hour of paddling and checking traps in the heat, the squad got an insanely unique count: 1 softshell and 2 map turtles! Alexis got to sample some new species and everyone packed up to move on to the next site. This time, they split up into teams. Turtle girl sailed away down river in her canoe to check traps while snake girl remained ashore to rummage through rocks in search of snakes. Turtle girl came in empty handed, but snake girl and John managed to snag 4 water snakes AND a DeKay’s brownsnake! What a catch.

Kate drawing blood on a water snake

On Thursday, they were joined by THE turtle doctor himself, WEL’s fiercest leader – Dr. Allender! He got to see what it was like to catch turtles and snakes in one fun-filled day. He stayed on land to look for snakes with snake girl while the rest of the crew searched for turtles. The count came out to 5 softshells and 7 snakes… what a way to impress the boss right?? Turtle girl and snake girl strike again. Not only did Dr. Allender get to sample a softshell, but he also impressed turtle girl by his spectacular blood draw technique on a softshell. They don’t call him the turtle doctor for nothing!

John and Kami take a selfie as they paddle down the riverKate measuring a water snake

Friday is trap-pulling day, but that doesn’t mean the Cook Crew won’t catch any turtles or snakes. On second thought – what’s that? A buck? Holy cow, look at that guy! Turtle girl and snake girl spotted a buck from their canoe on their way to pull traps from the river. They got super close and just stayed silent as the buck watched them floating by. They totaled 2 softshells, 2 sliders, 1 snake, and 1 musk turtle for the day! Turtle girl absolutely smashed her blood draws on the softshells. Snake girl did learn an important lesson though: turtles CAN bite!


Buck spotted by Kami and Kate