Dr. Chloe Wilde is our wildlife biologist. She studied ecology at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill. Her favorite topic of study is conservation. Dr. Wilde is passionate about learning about and teaching others about how they can help wild cat populations, including reducing their use of products with palm oil in them. Though Carolina Tiger Rescue does not have any, Dr. Wilde’s favorite animal to study is the clouded leopard.
Dr. Wilde’s Blog 5/3/19
I love spring at Carolina Tiger Rescue! Flowers have come out and so have some different creatures around the sanctuary. We’ve already seen adult and baby owls and today I found a turtle roaming the Rescue!
This is an eastern box turtle next to me in the picture to the right. You may have seen one of these guys in your own backyard! Eastern box turtles live in the eastern United States as far south as Florida and as far north as Maine. You know how each state has a state flag and state bird? There are also state reptiles, and the North Carolina official state reptile is the eastern box turtle! This turtle got its “box” name from the way it can pull its legs and head back into its shell and shut it tight like a box when they feel threatened.
The eastern box turtle is an omnivore that eats a wide variety of plants, small amphibians, eggs, insects, and other foods. These turtles can live in many different habitats and like to live near streams or ponds. This one may have found our pond and thought the sanctuary would make a great home.
If you look closely, you can often find signs of the animals that live in a habitat. For example, you may find snake skin from where a snake shed, or egg shell from where an owl or other bird hatched. You may even find tracks where a turtle or other animal moved through the mud or sand. Our animals also leave their mark in their enclosures. Recently, in one of our big cat enclosures, I found this tree in the picture to the left. Do you notice something about this tree? Maybe a sign that a big cat was there?
There are scratches on this tree! Our cats will scratch things in their enclosure to leave their scent behind. This cat was spreading his smell around his enclosure to tell anyone else that comes by that it is his spot. Our cats will also rub against things in their enclosure or spray things in their enclosure to really make sure everyone knows it is their home. Scent markings like this can provide another individual with information like who made the markings, whether it is a male or female, and if they are ready to have cubs. All that is told just from the scent left on the tree; that’s incredible.
I love finding evidence like this that animals leave behind! Next time you are outside, try to find signs of life out in nature. If you look close enough, maybe you can figure out what other residents live around you!