Indoor Animals & Living Collections
Many of our animals are here due to injuries, illness, human socialization, or other issues which make them unreleasable to the wild. All enclosures have been specially designed to meet the natural needs of the species as well as to accommodate any physical limitations of the individual animal. Many of our animals’ homes include quiet areas, where they are able to rest and nap (if you don’t see an animal, this may be why). All animals receive regular check-ups from their vets and daily interaction with their caretakers.
Some of our animals live on exhibit (you can find them among exhibits inside the museum as well as outdoors on our Meadow Path and Wildlife Path). Additionally, we have program animals who are not on exhibit but do come out for certain EcoTarium experiences led by our Wildlife Staff and Museum Educators who have been specially trained to work with our animals.
The EcoTarium is a popular spot for New England wildlife, with land that includes woodlands, ponds and marshland, and meadow habitats. If you’re lucky, you might see a hawk, wild turkey, sparrow, oriole, red-winged blackbird, frog, fish, salamander, chipmunk, rabbit, squirrel or deer. Some animals you’re quite likely to see. Others are active at night when the grounds are closed or are very shy. Be a detective and look for their signs: tracks, burrows, nests or scat (that’s a fancy science word for poop). Seek out skunk tracks in the winter snow, hunt for owl pellets year round, and watch the meadow fill up with goldfinches when the flowers bloom in the summer.
Indoor Animal Residents:
The EcoTarium’s resident parrot is a red-fronted macaw named Racket. Racket is a surrendered pet and often lives up to his name when chattering with his keepers during social time.
Did you know…
- Parrots have a bone in their tongue that allows them extra dexterity when foraging for food such as nuts or seeds.
- There are over 370 different parrot species, but none that live in North America. Parakeets, cockatiels, macaws, and cockatoos are all different species of parrots.
- Red-fronted macaws are native to Boliva, and are an endangered species of parrot. Like many other parrot species, this is often because of habitat loss and illegal pet trafficking.
The EcoTarium has rats– but in a good way! Our group of domestic rats can be found in our City Science Exhibit, where they are often seen grooming, playing, foraging, and exploring their habitat.
Did you know…
- Rats are very intelligent animals. They can be trained the same way as dogs and learn many fun and challenging behaviors. Our rats are trained to go into a crate, step onto a scale, follow a target, paint, and more!
- Rats are very social and a group of rats is called a “Mischief”.
- Rats can communicate with one another using noises too high-pitched for humans to hear.
There are 10 species of turtle in Massachusetts. The EcoTarium houses 5 of those species, including Blanding’s turtles, Eastern box turtles, musk turtles, spotted turtles, and wood turtles. We also house a non-native spiny softshell turtle.
Did you know…
- Turtles’ shells are made of bone and attached to their spine. These hard shells help keep them safe from predators.
- Turtles are extremely long lived animals, with some native species easily reaching over 50 years in age.
- Although seeing wild turtles is fairly common, several species in Massachusetts are Threatened or Endangered due to habitat loss.
The EcoTarium has two opossums named Blondie and Bowie. The two were orphaned siblings raised by a wildlife rehabber before coming to live at the museum. Opossums are solitary and therefore the two opossums live separately, but regularly switch between living in the public-viewable habitat and a behind-the-scenes habitat.
Did you know…
- Opossums are North America’s only marsupial. Females carry young in a pouch just like kangaroos and koalas.
- Opossums are opportunistic omnivores and can eat up to 4,000 ticks in a year, which helps keep diseases down for humans.
- Opossums are all-but-immune to rabies and incredibly unlikely to be carriers of the virus.
Amphibians are animals such as frogs, toads, and salamanders. They are cold blooded and breathe through their mucus covered skin. They are sensitive to environmental changes and are therefore known as “indicator species” by scientists.
The EcoTarium has 5 species of amphibians, some of which live in public habitats, and some of which live behind the scenes for programs. This includes:
- Gray tree frogs (located in the Freshwater Exhibit)
- American toads (Behind The Scenes)
- Spotted salamander (Behind The Scenes)
- Eastern tiger salamander (Behind The Scenes)
- White’s tree frog (Behind The Scenes)
There are several species of snakes that live at the EcoTarium. Our corn/milk snake, Pandora, lives by the Minerals Exhibit. There are also corn snakes, a milk snake, and a Western hognose snake that live behind the scenes and come out for educational programs.
Did you know…
- Snakes smell using their tongues! Their tongues flick in and out to collect scent particles, which are then analyzed by a special organ on the roof of their mouth.
- There are 14 species of snakes in Massachusetts. 12 of those species are completely non-venomous. The other two, the timber rattlesnake and northern copperhead, are rare to see and are unlikely encounter you.
- Snakes aid us in keeping pest populations under control by consuming rodents such as mice and rats.
The EcoTarium’s two resident guinea pigs, Petunia and Clavel, can be found near our Preschool Play Area, tunneling through their blankets or munching on hay.
Did you know…
- Guinea pigs aren’t pigs at all, but are instead rodents, just like rats, squirrels, and porcupines.
- Guinea pigs are very social and can often live in large groups.
- Guinea pigs were originally domesticated over 3,000 years ago.
Madagascar Hissing Cockroach:
While not native to Massachusetts, these cockroaches are impressive and durable. They get their name from the hissing noise males make to attract females or scare off predators. The EcoTarium’s collection of cockroaches can be found in the Africa Exhibit. They eat leftover scraps of food and also make a nutritious food source for many of the museum’s other residents!
Some animals live behind the scenes at the EcoTarium and come out for special educational programs. They are often trained using positive reinforcement techniques, so they can help educate the public in unique and stress-free ways. Many different educational programs happen every day throughout the museum, giving guests a chance to learn about a variety of science or wildlife-related topics.
Program Animals include species such as:
- Racing pigeon
- Domestic rat
- Flying squirrel
- Virginia opossum
While all enclosures have been specially designed to meet the natural needs of the species as well as to accommodate any physical limitations of the individual animal, animals need novel experiences to use their natural instincts on a regular basis. This is called “enrichment” and it is a regular part of good husbandry (care of animals by humans).
You can support a variety of our enrichment programs by purchasing items from our Amazon Wish List which will directly get your items to our resident wildlife. Click on the button below to see how you can help: