Istock Family Look-In Lab

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View the Nature Museum’s living collections – including Illinois reptiles, amphibians, fishes, and a variety of invertebrates – on display in this special laboratory.

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Time of Year
Year Round
Level 1

We often host our daily 11:30am Critter Connection and 12pm Animal Feeding in and around the Mysteries of the Marsh and the Look-In Lab. Be sure to check with our Guest Experience staff for locations. These daily programs are included with admission.

A Closer Look

Target Training

Say hello to Fiona the northern red-bellied cooter. She’s one of the many turtles who lives in the Look-In Lab. She is an aquatic turtle, which means she spends most of her life in the water. She loves swimming around in the water and she also has a basking area she can sit on. She is an omnivore, which means that she likes to eat both meat and plants.

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When this type of turtle is younger, they tend to eat more meat, like yummy bugs and other invertebrates that are found in the water. As they get older, they tend to eat more plants and other leafy green vegetables. She also likes eating duckweed.

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Sometimes our animal care staff will use target training to help train her and the other Museum animals. Many institutions that care for animals use a method called target training to build a relationship between animal and caretaker, provide mental stimulation, and enrich an animal’s day. Fiona has learned to press her nose to a red ball to receive a snack (lettuce or crickets, yum!).

This process uses positive reinforcement training and target training to feed her. As soon as she goes to the target, we use a clicker to make a small sound. That click tells her that she’s done a good job and she’s about to receive a treat. After she finishes that piece of vegetable, we have her follow the target again. Then as soon as she gets close, we make a click, and she gets another piece of food.

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Keep Exploring

Our animal care team cares for a variety of animals in the Look-In Lab, including snakes, insects, and turtles. Kennicott is one of the box turtles you might see on the display or wandering around the Look-In Lab. Get to know him better, and learn more about box turtles, in this episode of Curious By Nature.

Have you ever heard of a foxsnake? Hershey is one of the Nature Museum’s resident eastern foxsnakes. Learn more about foxsnakes with animal caretaker Ashley in this special behind-the-scenes video!

Buy Your Tickets Today

Experience nature and science up close with a trip to the Nature Museum.

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