Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Day 130 (6/9): Reptile Gardens

Reptile Gardens was actually one of my favorite places on our whirl-wind tour of South Dakota and Wyoming.  I wasn't too thrilled when Mark first came up with the idea because umm...well...snakes and alligators are just not too appealing to me. 

The boys petting a "fake" gator in the indoor sky dome gardens. 

There were tons of other photo ops for us scallywaggers...

There were 3 tortoises over 100 years old in the park and you got to walk right up to them and pet them.  I guess they really like their necks rubbed.  They were kind of rough! I hope I don't get the dry skin like them when I'm that old!  :)
This is Methuselah who was turning 127 years old. She comes in at a healthy 600 pounds and loves watermelon. His birthday was the week after we were there and they were having a big birthday party for him and he was going to feast on watermelon.  They eat through the rind and all!
The odd cacti, succulents and orchids were just gorgeous!  They were planing most of the plant-life outside so we didn't get to see them in full bloom.  Although they had these gorgeous "trees" of petunias that were really cool and I hope someone that reads my blog occasionally makes me one (hint, hint).

The snake show was very interesting but I'm really glad there was a piece of glass between me and the snakes. They let us feel an albino but I can't remember what kind it was...a big one that's all I remember!  The guy that ran the show had a hook that he let the snakes curl around.  I could not wait for him to put the real fast small deadly one back in his box because he kept on coming real close to his hands and head.  It was just plain creepy and I was thinking that driving the bus through tunnels on our Rushmore Tour was a much better job than this one!

Yet another photo op where we "squeezed" in the fun at Reptile Gardens!

The prairie dog town was neat because it had this little popup window that the boys got to check out prairie dog life first hand. I found out that prairie dogs are highly social and they often greet each other by kissing, hugging, and touching noses.  Fun fact for the day:  They are members of the squirrel family but they are called "dogs" because of the barking sound they make. 

Matt, the gator "keeper" showed us how he had to go over to the water pond and rip one of these gnarly beasts out of the water and show us how to grab it's jaws.  I don't know why anyone in their right mind would want to know how to do that but it was really exciting to watch.  It was Matt's first day back on the job from college and he was huffing and puffing after he pulled it out.  He jokingly said he needed to give the croc a break and catch his breath but it was really because he said he was out of shape from college.

Matt, was in my opinion - CRAZY - for doing some of the things that he did.  He must really like living on the edge of death.  He told us that if you ever got in a position sitting on a croc or gator (which I hope I don't get in that position!)  to close their eyes. They are relatively dumb creatures since their brain is the size of a walnut and if you close their eyes they think they are dead.  He also said they always wrestle the males since females rarely shut their mouths.  He thought that was funny but for us women...well we were glad he was in there with the gators!
Crazy Fun is Reptile Gardens.  If you ever get in the Rapid City area, you should definitely check it out!  It was well worth the money and the shows were fantastic!

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