" />

Floodplain Trail Closure: Fontenelle Forest’s Wetlands and Mink Trail at Neale Woods are closed due to flooding.

Floodplain Trail Closure: Fontenelle Forest’s Wetlands and Mink Trail at Neale Woods are closed due to flooding.

Critter Care: Reptile and Amphibian Vet Check-ups

article by Patrick Conner, Animal Care Specialist

If you regularly explore Fontenelle Forest’s Nature Center, you likely have already discovered the Raptor Woodland Refuge, where you can marvel at 14 different species of birds of prey. You may not realize the Nature Center also houses a fascinating array of reptiles and amphibians. Venture downstairs to encounter 11 unique critters, including six snakes, two tiger salamanders, three turtles, and native fish.  

In February, our veterinarian, Dr. McWilliams, from Prairie Lane Vet Hospital came to the Forest to perform routine health checks for all our critters. We check weights and look for signs of illness or injury. The majority of our critters were perfectly healthy and for those that weren’t, treatment plans were made. 

A soft shelled turtle swimming in large tank

Olive, Smooth Soft-Shell Turtle 

Olive had a scrape on her shell that Dr. McWilliams examined. Soft-shell turtles are difficult to keep in captivity and are known to have problems with their shells. She provided our staff with medication to help heal Olive’s shell. Every 72 hours, our Animal Care Specialist will administer an injection into Olive’s back legs and apply Silver Sulfadiazine cream to the wound to promote healing and avoid infection.  

  • Olive is estimated to be a least 50 years old. She’s lived at Fontenelle Forest since 1987.  
  • She now weighs 7.8 pounds – which is heavier than one of the bald eagles in our Refuge!  
A speckeled king snake being help in someones hand

Elvis, Speckled Kingsnake 

Elvis had an abrasion from rubbing his snout against a variety of surfaces, like the walls of his enclosure. Dr. McWilliams suggested a regular application of the Silver Sulfadiazine cream to the wound.  

  • Elvis is 13 years old and has lived at Fontenelle Forest since 2013.  
  • Elvis weighed 367 grams, which is about as heavy as a can of soup.  
  • Speckled kingsnakes are one of three species of kingsnakes found in Nebraska – and their favorite food in the wild are other snakes, especially venomous snakes found in Southeastern Nebraska. In captivity, Elvis’s diet consists primarily of large mice. 

Check out the photos below for a behind-the-scenes of how these critters are examined. Stop by the Nature Center to see both Olive and Elvis, along with our other fascinating reptiles and amphibians in Habitat Hollow!  


Fontenelle Forest is a 501(c)(3) tax exempt nonprofit.

Make a tax deductible donation NOW

Skip to content