2015-01-29 / Nature

Sanctuary Home to More Than Just Birds

By Jack Kelly


The ornate box turtle, not native to New England, is one of the reptiles that safely resides at the Norman Bird Sanctuary. (Photo by Jack Kelly) The ornate box turtle, not native to New England, is one of the reptiles that safely resides at the Norman Bird Sanctuary. (Photo by Jack Kelly) The Norman Bird Sanctuary is offering a behind-the-scenes look at its animal care facility on Sunday, Feb. 8. This program will be the first in an ongoing series and will highlight the sanctuary’s population of turtles. According to Rachel Holbert, co-director of education, “Folks who engage in this program will gather greens from our greenhouse, feed crickets and worms, tour the animal care facility, and assist in feeding the turtles.”

The facility houses three distinctive female turtles: an ornate box turtle named Boxer, a Central American wood turtle named Tuga, and a red-eared slider named Rosie. All of the turtles were initially family pets, but were donated to the sanctuary over the past decade. “These are non-native species that cannot be released, because they are invasive and would cause severe damage to local ecosystems. People don’t realize that they can’t just release a turtle into the wild,” Holbert explained.

The turtles, as well as other reptiles and amphibians in the facility such as snakes, salamanders and frogs, require a special diet. The sanctuary’s education specialist and coordinator for animal care, Matt Schenk, is responsible for feeding all of the animals housed in the facility. Crickets, large mealworms or “super worms,” and greens are the basic components of the terrapins’ food regimen. “To extend the season, we grow greens and raise our own colony of worms, which feed on a combination of oatmeal and fruit and vegetable matter. Presently we are buying crickets, but we are trying to foster our own colony for the future needs of our animals,” Schenk said.

“The animal care facility is usually not open to the public, but we felt that this is an excellent educational opportunity to present to people so they can see how we work with and care for these unique creatures,” Holbert said.

The sanctuary’s facility is also home to a number of other wildlife species, including two Red-tailed Hawks and a Barred Owl. “The raptors would not survive in the wild due to a variety of health issues, and they assist us in educational classes. They require a lot of down time and are not normally available for public viewing,” Holbert commented.

TO GO

Turtle Time

WHEN: Sunday, Feb. 8, 1:30 p.m.

WHERE: Norman Bird Sanctuary

MORE INFO: Reservations are suggested, normanbirdsanctuary.org or 401-846-2577 x 15

COST: $10 for members, $12 for non-members

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