Yesterday’s adventure was an early morning trip to the Herpetological Sanctuary. It is just a short drive away from our house. The Sanctuary is home to over 1500 animals. More than half are desert tortoises, many have been surrendered once people got tired of them as pets. They also take injured animals in for care and rehab. They also have a collection of alligators, crocodiles, venomous and non-venomous snakes, and a variety of lizards. There was also a raccoon and some otters, but clearly the focus is on reptiles.
The newest attraction is a couple of capybaras. These very large rodents are native to the Amazon (the jungle region, not the one with occasional Prime Delivery), but some people have them as pets. They are legal in Arizona. They are cute, but most of us don’t need a 170 pound rodent who likes to poop in the pool! Generally very friendly, the sanctuary has two capybaras (given to them by a family in Tucson who no longer wanted them), but one of the two was in time-out, because he was grumpy. We were able to interact with “Tater Tot,” He was very interested in receiving the pieces of fruit and veggies. Some photos of Tater Tot:
Tater Tot is about 15 months old. He will continue growing and can reach 170 lbs. He and his brother “Spud,” look like large Guinea pigs.
After everyone else fed Tater Tot, he decided to come over and snuggle with me. He put his paws on my legs as he tried to climb in my lap. Their hair is a wiry texture, and surprisingly, they don’t smell bad. He is cute, but I will pass on a 170 pound rodent pet. After all, we have Stitch 😊
Obviously, the Herpetological Sanctuary is about much more than a couple cute capybaras (but they do bring people in for visits and donations!). We saw hundreds of desert tortoises. They vary in size from very tiny babies to big old guys and gals. The sanctuary has hundreds of Sulcata Tortoises. These are native to Africa, but were introduced to Arizona as pets. They are very cute when little, but people don’t realize they live for more than 70 years, and can grow to as big as 200 pounds. The sanctuary provides a home for the tortoises when given up, or when they are found injured in the desert. They do try to re-home the animals, sometimes to zoos or wildlife parks. It isn’t difficult to see why some might be attracted to the Sulcata tortoises as pets. They come right up to you when they see people, looking for a veggie treat – red bell peppers were popular.
The sanctuary had several different types of tortoises from around the world, including a few big Galapagos Tortoises.
After learning about tortoises and capybaras, we moved on through the sanctuary. There was a surprising variety. Lots of iguanas and different types of lizards:
The snakes are kept inside, and we entered with trepidation 🤨. There was no need for concern, as the snakes were inside glass cages, and the particularly mean ones had an extra layer of glass protection. Andrew said we were safe, as long as the caretakers had remembered to lock all of the cages!
Warning, some snake photos coming. These are just a few – they had so many species including rattlesnakes (many different kinds!), cobras, pythons, and so many more. They had a couple of rattlers who were there because their owners got careless, and met their demise from their “pet.”
Inside the snake building was a classroom where kids were spending time learning about the sanctuary animals. Of course, some were more interested in Mario Baseball 😀
We then toured the alligator and crocodile section, and we were all impressed with how many different species they had – from all over the world.
As we finished up the tour, Andrew shared some animals from the nursery area:
We spent almost two hours going through the sanctuary, and everyone enjoyed the tour. We had a private tour, and our guide was Andrew. Andrew was very knowledgeable about the animals, and clearly loved what he did. He told me he grew up in Phoenix, and kept a rattlesnake in a box under his bed (which his Mother did not know about!). He enjoyed Louie’s questions and general knowledge about the animals – kindred spirits, I think. All in all, another successful adventure.
Thanks for joining us on our tour of the Phoenix Herpetological Sanctuary. Not sure what other adventures are in store, as the week is coming to a close, We will be visiting downtown Cave Creek for a little shopping and a Mexican lunch, for sure.