Michaela has been an avid animal enthusiast for as long as she can remember and has been keeping reptiles for more than a decade. As a young child, before she was allowed to keep any pets, she would catch and care for crickets, praying mantises, and other insects to satisfy her urge to study wildlife. Much to her mother’s horror, she would calmly and frequently present to her a 6 foot long Black Rat Snake brushing off the frequent bite wounds as no big deal.
Her passion for chelonians in particular began eight years ago when she was gifted with a newly hatched Eastern Box Turtle. After being instructed by her friends that this tiny hatchling was a Yellow-bellied Pond Slider, she proceeded to research their needs and care for it as an aquatic turtle, when it was in fact, a terrestrial box turtle. Continuing with research, she quickly discovered that this was most definitely not Trachemys scripta scripta but was actually Terrapene carolina carolina. This fueled a love for Terrapene that eventually expanded to many other species. In addition to T. c. carolina she also works with T. c. major, T. c. triunguis, Indotestudo forstenii, and Manouria emys emys. She plans to eventually work with species of the Cuora genus, with her greatest interest being in Cuora mouhotii mouhotii and C. m. obsti. She has now developed a breeding group of T. c. carolina with the hopes of producing captive-bred healthy offspring to reduce the need for wild collection. It saddens her to observe the decrease in the wild population of this beautiful species and she hopes that her efforts will be successful in conserving this underrated species as well as the other various species that capture her interest.
Other members of her collection of reptiles include a Leopard Gecko and a Nigerian Uromastyx. Michaela is also interesting in veterinary medicine and hopes to become a veterinary technician or participate field research. Michaela has been riding horses for 7 years, was a member of the United States Pony Club, and achieved her C-2 traditional certification. She especially enjoys jumping cross-country aboard her equine companion. She is also a dedicated long-distance runner, runs over 40 miles per week, and has competed in track and field, cross-country, and numerous road races including her favorite race, the 15k.