Prairie Oak Nature Center

The Prairie Oak Nature Center offers fun environmental education programs for all ages. Stop by the Nature Center or look in the Leawood Parks and Recreation Guide to see programs that are currently scheduled. In addition to the scheduled programs our on-site naturalist will work with teachers, youth leaders and other organizations to provide a program just for their group.

The Nature Center Activity Room is available to rent for small receptions or meetings. The activity room offers seating for up to 30 people.

Celebrate your child’s birthday at the Nature Center. We can design a birthday program that can include nature crafts, outdoor adventures, animal presentations, and games.

Call (913) 696-7770 for information on programs, birthdays and room rentals.

The Nature Center is home to many live mammals, native reptiles, amphibians and fish. Outside the building is a bird feeding area and butterfly garden.

So come visit our exhibits, stop by our library, stroll through the gardens, and discover different habitats along our two-mile walking trail. There is something for everyone!

Animals at the Nature Center

Argentine Horned Frog

Argentine Horned FrogAll horned frogs, species of the genus Ceratophrys, hunt by remaining motionless, and waiting for prey. They will try to eat anything that can fit in their mouths, and some things that can’t. In the wild, their typical diet would include rodents such as mice, small reptiles, as well as large spiders, and insects such as locusts.

The species is endemic to South America. It is the most common species of horned frog, in the grasslands of Argentina, Uruguay and Brazil.

Known as the “Pacman Frog” in between meals of nightcrawlers and crickets we feed her adult mice.

Yellow Footed Tortoise

Yellow Footed TortoiseYellow-footed tortoises are found in deep, humid rain forest areas of South and Central America. They spend a great deal of time in and around water and in the leaves and undergrowth of moist tropical forests. Their diet consists mostly of vegetation, fallen fruit and carrion (this is a big word for dead animals). Most specimens grow to only 14 inches long, but some populations see individuals reaching 24 to 28 inches or more.

Our Yellow footed tortoise Tio, enjoys fruits that are red to orange in color. He really enjoys cooked sweet potato, strawberries but loves pineapples to.

Red Eared Slider

Red Eared SliderThe red-eared slider occurs in a wide variety of aquatic habitats with abundant basking sites. This turtle lives in both natural waters and human-made waters. Red-eared sliders eat a wide range of both aquatic plants and aquatic animals. Young individuals often consume more animal foods, but as they age, their diet shifts to more plant foods. Adult upper shell length: 5–8 inches; occasionally to 12 inches. Adult females have larger shells than adult males.

Our Red Eared Slider was a cherished family pet for over 20 years before he came to live with us a the Nature Center.


AxolotlThe axolotl is native only to the freshwater of Lake Xochimilco in Mexico City. The axolotl is carnivorous, consuming small prey such as mollusks, worms, insects, other arthropods, and small fish in the wild. They typically live 5 to 6 years in the wild, up to fifteen years in captivity.

Our Axolotl is albino, this means that she does not have any pigments in her skin or pupils that reflect color. Although it is assumed she is blind, like a cave fish, her eyesight is not diminished at all and she sees just fine.

Rough Green Snake

Rough Green SnakeRough green snakes are common throughout the eastern and southeastern United States.   They are found from southern New Jersey west to eastern Kansas and Texas and south to Florida. Some small populations have been found in New Mexico.

Rough green snakes are fairly long, slender snakes with long tapering tails. Adults are usually between 20 and 32 inches in length, but occasionally may be as long as 40 inches.

Being small means that you have a small mouth. These animals need to find food that can easily fit into their mouths, so they hunt for small flying and crawling insects.

The green snake camouflages itself in the exhibit hiding among the plants or vines in the exhibit. When visiting see if you can spot him in the exhibit.

Red Eyed Tree Frog

Red Eyed Tree FrogIt is native to forests from Central America to north-western South America. It has a white underside, brightly red- and orange-colored feet, and is named after its distinctive bright red eyes.

Size of adults 1.5” to 2.75”

Found in tropical lowlands from southern Mexico, throughout Central America, and in northern South America. Their Diet Consists of Insects, worm and larvae. They can live up to 5 years in captivity.

We purposely designed their exhibit with live plants and vines to give make them feel more relaxed. This also makes them hard to spot. Take some time to see if you can spot them. Staff is always available to point them out when you give up.

Tiger Salamander

Tiger SalamanderMost tiger salamanders live in the center of the country, from Arizona and Montana east to Ohio and Kentucky. They live near vernal pools (seasonal pools of freshwater), ponds, and slow-moving streams. They spend most of the year below the surface, which allows them to escape high temperatures. But after heavy rains, tiger salamanders can be seen walking around on wet ground.These salamanders are efficient predators in their habitat. Worms, snails, slugs, and insects make up most of the adult tiger salamander’s diet. Tiger salamanders can live for 14 years or more.

Always smiling, the tiger salamander can be seen hiding in her log or taking a swim in her tiny body of water in the exhibit.


DeguDegu are native to the grasslands of central Chile. They build extensive underground tunnel systems. Adults grow to be about 10-12 inches long and weigh under a pound.

Degu graze on grasses, foliage and seeds, and store food in their burrows during the winter.

They can live up to 5 – 9 years In captivity.

The Degus have become a welcome addition to the Nature Center. They are very active and inquisitive. As members of the rodent family, they are very social and need to in groups of 3 or more. You may see them aggressive or fighting but they will never escalate it to hurting one another. Being social means that they have a hierarchy and sometimes one of the Degus will challenge others for dominance.

Woodhouse’s Toad

Woodhouse's ToadWoodhouse’s toad is extremely variable and lacks any good distinguishing coloration or pattern. In Kansas, if you see a toad it is likely Woodhouse’s toad. This species is a fairly large toad, occasionally exceeding 5 inches in body length. They use almost any habitat in Kansas, preferring soft sandy soils in lowland areas or close to artificial water sources. When inactive, the toad burrows underground, or hides under cover or in mulch.

The Woodhouse’s toad diet predominantly consists of soft-bodied insects such as moths. Earthworms will be eaten if encountered.

We have to be careful when feeding our toads. They eyes are bigger than their mouths and we can easily overfeed them.

Bearded Dragon

Bearded DragonBearded dragons are only naturally found in Australia’s desert regions. They are found in the southeastern area of Northern Territory and the eastern half of South Australia. Their habitats include woodlands, savannas, and deserts. It is not uncommon to find them basking on branches, stumps, or rocks during the mornings. At adulthood they grow to 12-24 inches in length from their head to tip of their tail. Bearded dragons are omnivores and can eat a variety of things. Normally a bearded dragon’s diet will consist of vegetables, insects, and non-citrus fruit. They live up to 5 to 8 Years in the wild and 12 to 14 Years in Captivity.

Beardy the Bearded Dragon is very calm and relaxed when held. He enjoys long warm baths and greens with his diet of roaches, crickets and beetle larvae.

Collared Lizard

Collared LizardThe common name “collared lizard” comes from the lizard’s distinct coloration, which includes bands of black around the neck and shoulders that look like a collar.

C. collaris are known for their bipedal locomotion–the ability to run on their two hind legs–and can sprint at incredible speeds of up to 16 mph per hour; this behavior is usually observed when trying to escape predators.

Found in dry, open regions of Mexico and the south-central United.

When visiting the Nature Center in the winter you may notice that the Collared Lizards are not very active. As the fall and winter months come the short days trigger the lizards to go into a short hibernation. They will become more active and start eating more as the days become longer.

Speckled King Snake

Speckled King SnakeThis snake occurs in a wide variety of habitats: prairies and along prairie streams, brushy areas, edges of forest and old farm fields, rocky and along the edges of small water features. In Kansas, it is often found on rocky, wooded hillsides with some openings.

Speckled kingsnakes kill their prey by constriction and consume mice and shrews, bird eggs, small birds, lizards, and snakes, including venomous species. This snake, as with all kingsnakes, is immune to the venom of the Missouri’s various native pit vipers, giving them the name of King Snake.

Maturity is reached at the age of 2 or 3. Adults reach a length of up to 72 inches. In captivity, individuals of this species have lived slightly more than 14 years; the lifespan is likely more than 20 years.

Buddy, the Speckled King snake is the Nature Centers longest held visitors . He has been at the Nature center for over a decade.

Corn Snake

Corn SnakeCorn snakes are found in the eastern United States from southern New Jersey to Florida, into Louisiana and parts of Kentucky. They are most abundant in Florida and other southeastern states. They reach in length up to 72 inches long. These snakes inhabit wooded groves, rocky hillsides, meadowlands, woodlots, rocky open areas, tropical hammocks, barns and abandoned buildings. Corn snakes live up to 23 years in human care, but their lifespan is shorter in the wild. These snakes typically feed every few days. Young hatchlings eat lizards and tree frogs, while adults feed on larger prey, such as mice, rats, birds and bats.

The corn snake at the Nature Center is the fastest animal we have. Although very calm and docile once he is out of his cage, he can be very quick to escape once the cage door is open.

Chilean Rose Hair Tarantula

Chilean Rose Hair TarantulaThe Chilean rose tarantula is native to Chile, Argentina and Bolivia in desert and scrub habitats.

The Chilean rose tarantula is a medium-sized terrestrial tarantula, with females averaging a leg span of 5 inches. Males average closer to 3.5 inches but have proportionally longer legs than females. Chilean rose tarantulas are active predators, feeding on a variety of invertebrates as well as small vertebrates like mice, frogs and lizards. Tarantulas hunt at night and rely on their large size to subdue prey. Females live up to 20 years in human care, significantly longer than males. Males pass away a few months after mating.

Rosy is the Nature Centers resident matriarch. She has been with us for nine years. She has the distinction of having the central place in our Nature Center, at the desk exhibit.

Prairie Oaks Nature Center
Ironwoods Park
14701 Mission Road
(913) 696-7770

Hours of Operation

  • Monday – Friday 10:00 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. & 1:30 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.
  • Saturday 11:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.
  • Sunday 12:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.
  • Closed Holidays