Meet the Critters

Meet the Critters! The Ornate Box Turtle

This week on Meet the Critters, we’re introducing you to the state reptile of Kansas: the ornate box turtle!  This turtle is a protected species in Kansas, as well as five other Midwestern states (Colorado, Iowa, Indiana, Nebraska, and Wisconson).  The ornate box turtle is a species of concern in these states because they are vulnerable to threats from several areas.  Agriculture and development are two of the biggest threats to these turtles.  Ornate box [...]

Meet the Critters! The Yellow Mud Turtle

This week, we’re meeting the yellow mud turtle!  The yellow mud turtle is an abundant resident of Cheyenne Bottoms, living in quiet, still water, preferably in areas with a muddy bottom.  They spend their days hanging out in the mud, hunting for food.  They are also well adapted to surviving droughts, they will burrow into the mud to avoid the baking heat.  During winter, they either burrow into the mud, or take up residence in [...]

Meet the Critters! The Six-lined Racerunner

Meet the six-lined racerunner!  An abundant inhabitant of the United States, the six-lined racerunner is known for its lightning quick speed – they’ve been clocked at 18 mph!  Found mostly in warm, dry areas such as open fields or sparse woods, this lizard darts around at ground level, rarely climbing. Six-lined racerunners eat a wide variety of invertebrates, from crickets to flies to spiders.  They eat so many insects that in several states they  are [...]

Meet the Critters! The Common Kingsnake

common kingsnake 1

The common kingsnake is our star this week on Meet the Critters.  The common kingsnake is considered to be the most beautiful snake native to Cheyenne Bottoms, and our resident here at KWEC is no exception.  Their striking black and yellow patterns are like no other snake found on the refuge. Kingsnakes  got their name from their habit of eating other snakes, including venomous snakes.  They kill their prey by constricting, and are known to [...]

Meet the Critters! The Red-eared Slider

Red-eared sliders get part of their name from the bright patches on their heads.

This week on Meet the Critters, we’re introducing you to a common sight in ponds and creeks around Kansas – the red-eared slider!  Red-eared sliders get their names from two things:  the first is the bright patches of red right behind their eyes, the second is their reaction to being startled while basking – they slide right into the water to escape. While red-eared sliders are almost entirely aquatic, they do require places to get [...]

Meet the Critters! The Bullsnake

Inada web

After a Thanksgiving break, we’re back with this week’s Meet the Critters!  The star of this week’s show is the bullsnake, also known as the gopher snake.  We’ve got a beautiful bullsnake here at the KWEC, she was caught as a very young snake right when the Center opened in 2009.  She’s about 3 years old, and bullsnakes in captivity can live to over 30 years!  Today, our bullsnake is over 6 feet long and [...]

Meet the Critters! The Grasshopper Mouse

dozer sitting web

This week, we’re introducing you the the most ferocious mouse around, the Northern Grasshopper Mouse!  Grasshopper mice are mostly carnivorous, though they will snack on seeds and fruit when available.  It’s estimated that in the wild, up to 89% of their diet is made up of insects and other meat.   Their prey includes grasshoppers, scorpions, beetles, crickets, and even giant centipedes and small birds.  These nocturnal mice are also known for howling like a tiny [...]

Meet the Critters! The American Kestrel

Male American Kestrels have slate blue wings that contrast beautifully with their reddish back and breast.

This week, we’d like to introduce you to the American Kestrel,  the smallest raptor in North America.  Here at KWEC, we have a male American Kestrel.  Pippin was brought to Prairie Park Nature Center in 2011 with a broken wing.  Once he was healthy enough to place,  he came to KWEC to be a program bird.  His wing never healed enough for him to fly, but Pippin is still very active.  He is not generally [...]