Turtle dogs! Saint Louis Zoo scientists have partnered with some very special assistants: seven turtle-detecting spaniels.
The Boykin spaniels helped us track and retrieve box turtles – their strong sense of smell allows them to find hidden turtles our researchers might miss. (And they're faster than us, too!)
Why are we searching for turtles? The answer is twofold: it's part of our continuing biodiversity studies at the soon-to-be Saint Louis Zoo WildCare Park, and it's also for The Box Turtle Project, our nine-year conservation project on three-toed box turtles, Missouri's state reptile.
The puppers' help comes at a crucial time – Saint Louis Zoo scientists have discovered a positive Ranavirus case in box turtles, and this research helps us learn more about the virus, which can cause severe infections in reptiles and amphibians. (Don't worry, the dogs can't pick up the virus, or spread it to other turtles.)
Check out the video below to learn more.