Photo of a tiger salamander

Sy the tiger salamander is huge. The Dickinson County Nature Center has two tiger salamander animal ambassadors, named Manny and Sy, and they are members of the largest land salamander species in North America. Tiger salamanders usually grow 7-13 inches long, but Sy is around 14 inches in length from head to tail. That’s one…

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Photo of a prairie skink missing its tail

Prairie skinks (Plestiodon septentrionalis) are common in Iowa, but you may never have seen one before. They are so tiny, that they blend in extremely well with their prairie surroundings. Prairie skinks range from 5-8 inches in length typically. Schnoodle the prairie skink Some skinks are is a little smaller than a typical prairie skink…

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Photo of a painted turtle

Annie and Jeff loved the Dickinson County Nature Center. But they’re not visitors. They don’t even work here. Actually, they live here! That’s because, even though they have human-like names, Annie and Jeff are the nature center’s painted turtles (Chrysemys picta.) Annie the painted turtle Everyone loves checking out our painted turtles, so here are…

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When you wake up, you are… Grumpy. Let me sleep! Happy and ready to start a new day Energetic — let’s hit the gym. Sleepy. It takes me a while to wake up. Your favorite food is… Strawberries — it’s all about the fruit Beef jerky, because it’s full of protein. Chips. I love salty…

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Photo of a box turtle

When kids who have been to the nature center before return, many of them beeline to see Teddy the ornate box turtle. (Teddy has some lessons for us to learn in this video.) But how much do you really know about the ornate box turtle (terrapene ornata ornata)? Long live Teddy. Ornate box turtles have an…

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Photo of a snake sticking out its tongue

The naturalists make sure to wash their hands after handling the mice before picking up the snakes. They don’t want the snakes to associate people with food or being let out of their enclosures with food either so that they don’t expect to be fed every time the enclosure door is opened. How a snake…

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Photo of a red-eared slider turtle

See more about the Dickinson County Nature Center’s other turtle ambassadors: Teddy the turtle looks for a friend Five facts you probably didn’t know about painted turtles 7 things Teddy the turtle wants you to know

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