“You don’t know what you’ve got…”
That’s the starting point for all of the animal and wildlife exhibits at Hickory Knolls Discovery Center. The goal is to focus attention on the often overlooked or totally unknown natural treasures that exist within the Fox Valley.
For example, did you know that an endangered species lives right here in St. Charles? While exotic animals such as the Siberian Tiger might be the first image that pops to mind when the term “endangered species” is used, locally its counterpart is the equally fragile and threatened Blanding’s Turtle.
Here at Hickory Knolls, we want to introduce you to the Blanding’s Turtle and all his mammal, reptile, amphibian and insect friends. We want you to learn about what is happening right outside your door – right now! It’s only by learning about and caring for the things around us that we can be better stewards of our land and animals for generations to come!
Read on to learn a little about the animals that call Hickory Knolls home… then come out and visit them to find out more! And remember, no animals were taken from the wild to be put on display. All were either owner surrenders or were captive bred specifically for education purposes.
Mammals are warm-blooded vertebrates with hair. They feed their young with milk and have a larger, more well-developed brain than other types of animals. To find out more about mammals in Illinois, click here.
Domestic Rabbit – Peter Rabbit
To learn more about Peter and his role as ambassador bunny, check out our initiatives page here.
Guinea Pig – Petunia
Reptiles are cold-blooded vertebrates. They have dry skin covered with scales or bony plates and usually lay soft-shelled eggs. To find out more about reptiles in Illinois, click here.
Bearded Dragon – Grandma
Albino Corn Snake- Olaf
Amelanistic Corn Snake- Kevin
- Native to the Southeast and Central US including Illinois.
- Eats rodents including mice and chipmunks.
- Life expectancy of 7-10 years in the wild, 20+ years in captivity.
Ball Python – Paul
Black Rat Snake – Randy
- Native to the Eastern and Central US including Southern Illinois.
- Eats rodents, lizards, eggs and small birds.
- Life expectancy of 10-15 years in the wild, 30+ years in captivity.
Bull Snake – Billy
- Averages 6 feet in length.
- Range includes Canada south to Texas, east to Illinois and west to Colorado.
- Eats mice and chicks; wild bull snakes consume rodents, small rabbits, frogs, lizards, and ground-dwelling birds.
Checkered Garter Snake – Gertie
- Averages 20-30 inches in length.
- Most common snake in North America.
- Native to California, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas and Kansas.
- Eats fish, frogs, toads, and worms.
Corn Snakes – Candy Corn, Kim, Stumpy & Timmy
Eastern Milk Snake – Mary
- Averages 3 feet in length.
- Native to the Eastern and Central US including Illinois.
- Eats mice, small mammals, and other snakes.
Fox Snake – Frankie
- Named after Charles Fox, an Episcopal minister and naturalist from the mid-1800s.
- Native to Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa and Illinois.
- Eats mice, small mammals, birds, eggs, and nestlings.
Northern Water Snake – Walter
- Eats frogs, tadpoles, fish, and turtles hatchlings.
- Life expectancy of 10+ years in captivity.
Pueblan Milk Snake – Oscar
- Although it looks like he might be, Oscar is not venomous and does not have fangs.
- Native to Puebla, Eastern Morelos, and Northern Oaxaca, Mexico.
- Eats mice, small mammals, and other snakes.
To learn more about Blanding’s Turtles, check out our on-site exhibit or visit our initiatives page here.
- Most widespread native turtle in North America.
- Range includes southern Canada to Louisiana and northern Mexico, and from the Atlantic to the Pacific.
- Eats duckweed, waterlilies, larva, and crayfish.
Soft Shell Turtle – Tortuga
Ornate Box Turtle
Three-Toed Box Turtle
Amphibians are cold-blooded vertebrates that don’t have scales. They live part of their lives in water and part on land. To find out more about amphibians in Illinois, click here.
Axolotl – Axl
- Nicknamed the “Mexican salamander.”
- Native to Lake Xochimilco and Lake Chalco in Mexico.
- Eats animal proteins including insects and other invertebrates.
- Considered environmental indicators because they are sensitive to pollutants.
- Native to the US, Southern Canada and Mexico.
- Eats insects, earthworms and larva.
- Life expectancy of 12-15 years in the wild, 20+ years in captivity.
Arthropods & Insects
Athropods are small, cold-blooded animals with a segment body, a hard outer shell called an exoskeleton, and many jointed legs. Insects are arthropods with six legs. Other arthropods, likes spiders and centipedes, are not insects because they have more than six legs. To find out more about insects and arthropods in Illinois, click here.
To learn more about honey bees, check out our “Pollin8: In Praise of Illinois Pollinators” exhibit or visit our initiatives page here.
Madagascar Hissing Cockroaches
Tarantulas – Rosey & Red-Kneed
In addition to our live animal friends, come out and visit our “stuffed animals.” These taxidermy specimens help us learn about native species and their habitats. Displays include a: