This week, like always, we focused on our beloved lab animals and teaching colonies. The animals include teaching colonies of Prairie Rattlesnakes (Crotalus viridis) and Timber Rattlesnakes (Crotalus horridus), as well as different species of turtles. As future veterinarians, the well-being of all animals in our care continues to be a top priority, even during the field season, when most of the students are in the field. This includes feeding, cleaning, and health assessments of all species daily. This week we decided to share with you a few tips that will help you and future WEL students with animal care in the future.

Tip #5- Make a list.

–> As mentioned in one of our previous survival guide blogs, making lists is the best way to ensure that nothing falls through the cracks. Make a list of all the animals in your care along with specific care noted for each animal.

Tip #13- Always bring a buddy to the venomous snake room.

–> Even though we try to minimize our direct physical interaction with our venomous snakes, sometimes they need to be fed, cleaned, and rehydrated. For every event of opening their cage, make sure that someone is with you in the room, in case of an emergency or for additional assistance.

Tip #31- When in doubt, communicate.

–> As we mentioned last week, good results and a great learning environment are founded on good communication. We are all here to succeed together and help each other. The bottom line is communication, communication, communication.

Tip # 49- Spread the love

–> This may sound crazy, but talk to the animals. Calmly and cheerfully, make them feel loved. Our turtles really enjoy these interactions (more than the snakes) and love the little extra treats every once in a while. We love telling them about our day and pretending that they care.

Tip #58- Pay close attention

–> When snakes begin shedding, their eyes appear cloudy and blue. Turtles may act agitated if something is wrong. Look closely for any changes in the physical appearance or behavior to fully assess their well-being status. If you suspect anything, say something. We have the privilege of working with the leading veterinarians in the field (Dr. Laura, Dr. Allender, Dr. Kaitlin), and they are at our animal service at all times.

Tip #61- Better safe than sorry

–> As much as our animals are our top priority, our safety and well-being are as important. Make sure you are not putting yourself in a harmful or dangerous situation. Before taking care of any animals, make sure you have everything you need to secure everyone’s safety to the best of your ability.


Please send us your survival tips to @Wildlifeepilab on Instagram or @WildlifeEpiLab on Twitter.

Until next time,

Your furious turtle team leaders.