As you have read previously, the GATEways Project team has been working closely with researchers from Wildlife and Fisheries Biology to create a habitat for the native Western pond turtle at the far west end of the Arboretum. (Read more here.)
On a related note, researchers from the same lab were able to capture a non-native predator of the Western pond turtle which has been eluding capture while living in the Arboretum waterway for four (4) years–a wily Florida softshell turtle that they’ve named Piggle Wiggle Pipsqueak–an apt name once you’ve seen his unusual nose!
They needed to find a home for this impressive creature, but not just any home. Piggle Wiggle Pipsqueak needed a pond of at least 20 square feet stocked with small fish to satisfy his dietary needs and they found one! Piggle Wiggle Pipsqueak now happily resides in a moat surrounding the lemur island at the Micke Grove Zoo, in Lodi.
This story ended well, but the lesson remains…dumping any animal, especially non-native species, in the Arboretum, or anywhere, upsets our ecosystem and causes the animal (and our researchers) unnecessary stress!
For turtle-curious types, check out an excerpt of the email that Adam Clause, Junior Researcher, sent about the capture on April 4, 2012…
I am pleased to announce that, as of 3:15pm this afternoon, the long-time resident adult Florida softshell turtle, Apalone ferox, from the UC Davis Arboretum has at last been captured. You can all sleep well tonight.
The turtle was caught with a large dipnet while basking at the far west end of the Arboretum, on the north shore ~100 feet east of the pine trees growing at the waterway margin. It is, contrary to most people’s expectations from field observations, a male animal. The species identification is clear. Diagnostic characters include the turtle’s oblong carapace, raised marginal carapacial rim, partial secondary nasal septa, and multiple rows of rounded hemispherical bumps at the leading edge of the carapace.
For those of you unfamiliar with the story behind this turtle, it is a former pet that was released into the Arboretum by unknown person(s) more than four years ago. It has defied all attempts at capture until now. This has included months of cumulative trapping efforts with submersible turtle traps, several weeks of fyke netting, and prior dipnetting attempts. A wily creature, to be sure.