EDIT: I just discovered that PHS lost their beloved alligator Tuesday on July 15, 2012. She was an awesome ambassador (over 300,000 kids got to met her!) and will be missed. I'm so sorry for the loss. You can read tributes to Tuesday on her memorial page, and add your own if you have something to share.
Have you ever wanted to see a snake disarticulate its jaw? Think you can figure out what a ball python weighs? Haven’t you ever wanted to see a crocodile up close? Get trampled by a bunch of hungry tortoises?
The PHS was founded in 2000 to rescue and rehabilitate native and non-native reptiles, displaying some for education and releasing or giving homes to reptiles when possible.. Since then it has expanded, and now houses over 1,400 reptiles; including the recent addition of some extremely rare crocodilians, an entire room devoted to venomous snakes, and a veritable stampede of African tortoises. And they give tours.
After a brief introduction to the PHS’s mission, our small group visited the facility’s tortoises.
In a lowered, shaded area near the entrance, three Galapagos tortoises and some Aldabra giant tortoises (similarly-sized relatives from a different island) basked in cool mud. Kneeling beside the giants, outweighed by hundreds of pounds, my son was enthralled.
From there we toured “lizard alley,” and got to watch the lizards (some rare and endangered) slurping up flowers or, in the case of an erstwhile Asian water monitor, attempt to mate.
At the iguanas, Daniel advised us why the lizards, while gorgeous, don’t make great pets.
Next our group visited the crocodilian residents of PHS. Endangered and extremely rare species; including a New Guinea crocodile, Nile crocodile, Yacare caiman, and African slender-snouted crocodile, which PHS is helping to conserve; stared at us from cool pools.
The PHS focuses year-round on education, including special holiday-season tours, summer camps, and outreach efforts. Last year they reached more than 109,000 people, mostly kids, with their educational programs.
My family has always had an affinity for exotic animals. The creepier, crawlier, scalier, and weirder; the better.
My son and I were thrilled to see a sincere love for reptiles that surpassed even our enthusiasm. Crocodiles rock, and so does the Phoenix Herpetological Society.
Tours are $20 for adults, $15 for kids (ages 3 and under are free). Visit PHS at www.phoenixherp.com or call to book a tour at 480-513-4377 (HERP).
And, because I have absolutely no self-control, please enjoy a bunch of additional images from the Phoenix Herpetological Society. Seriously, you should give them a call.
|African spurred/sulcata tortoise (Geochelone sulcata) hatchlings|
|Yes, another sulcata tortoise hatchling. Come on. You wouldn't have been able to resist either.|
|Last sulcata; promise. The grown-up version this time.|
|A Nile crocodile, a little over nine feet long. Seriously, look at those eyes.|
|A West African gaboon viper. His name is Tank.|
|A Western diamondback rattlesnake in the venom room.|
|A Urocoan rattlesnake. I don't even know how I'd ever spot this snake in the wild. So gorgeous.|
|A prairie rattlesnake, showing off an impressive rattle.|
|OK, one more of the Western diamondback. Couldn't help myself here either.|
|Last but not least, an insanely gorgeous canebrake rattlesnake. And there are about 200 more venomous snakes where these beauties came from.|