10 January 2009

Australia Reptile Park

We went to the Reptile Park on Thursday, 8 January. It was a great little family outing. We waited until Thursday because the weather had become cooler and overcast. Earlier in the week it was sunny and in the 90s (33 - 34 degrees).

One of the remarkable things about the reptile park is that they "milk" Red Back spiders and Funnel Web spiders of their poisons to make the antivenom serum. There was a recent news report that the Funnel Web spiders are appearing in larger numbers this year. January and February is the time of year that the males are on the move and they end up in homes. There was a report of a 3 year old stepping on one in his boot.

The highlight of the park was the hands on area. In a large fenced yard, where several kangaroos. In the enclosure you could approach and pet or feed the kangaroos. There were 3 different varieties of kangaroos, 2 grey - one was from Kangaroo Island, and 1 red from the outback. The first kangaroo we approached was a little red one. He was very interested in eating. Neo was really interested in watching this kangaroo. He spent a long time just looking at him.

Tristan immediately went off to find the other kangaroos. We were told that you can buy food, so we did that. One grey kangaroo that I approached really used his forearms to grab and direct. When Zoe approached, he batted her in the shoulder. She was startled, but not hurt. They have long, sharp claws so could have really hurt her or me if he had wanted to. Another kangaroo I was feeding, held my hand steady with his paws.

Other animals were released into that yard later including a Galapagos island turtle. He was amazing. The zoo keeper said he was 85 years old and weighted over 100 kilograms - about 220 lbs. Also an Emu was released.

We saw a wombat, wallabies, and a pond full of American Alligators.

The staff from the park came around with different animals to pet. We petted an American alligator, a snake, and a lizard.

We got to see 3 Tasmanian Devil cubs running and playing in their pen. They had a discussion about the Devils. Told about how a mouth cancer is killing those born in Tasmania. Fortunately, there is a group that is indigenous to Australia and they do not have the cancer.

There were 2 Cassowary Birds. I was really impressed with their size. There was also a duck billed platypus. Unfortunately, it's nocturnal so was asleep on the rock shelf and we really couldn't see it very well. Dave did some research and found out that they only eat underwater...and with their eyes closed. They find their prey by electric charges.

The older kids and I went to see the spiders. They had all of Australia's poison spiders: Red Back and Funnel Web. And White Tailed, which is supposed to give a rash at the bite site. There was also a display of tarantulas. Neo was a little freaked out because of the two larger then life models we had to walk by to get out.

It was a great activity. We really enjoyed going to the Reptile Park.

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