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3.13.2017

Touring Arizona - Phoenix Herpetological Society

Seamus is really into reptiles right now...like, really into them. He loves all things dinosaurs, snakes, lizards, and so on. He's like a sponge when it comes to this stuff and can easily recite countless facts he has learned from books and TV.

So, when I saw a van on the highway decked out in alligators and snakes from the Phoenix Herpetological Society ("PHS"), I made a mental note to check the place out for when his birthday rolled around.

PHS is a reptile sanctuary and education facility for rescued reptiles. You know those people who keep venomous snakes and other illegal reptiles as pets? When they get caught, or you know even sometimes die from being killed by their "pet", this is where those animals end up from all over the country. It's actually pretty amazing, and turns out, only like ten minutes from our house too. Crazy!

They only offer guided tours, so you have to make an appointment if you want to visit. We signed up for a 10am tour and headed over last Saturday.

The tour started off with the tortoises and turtles. They literally have hundreds. Some were little...
And some were big! That's a baby Galapagos Tortoise second to the right from Seamus' head. 
We learned all about tortoises and how they make great pets. However, a lot of them end up at PHS because people aren't prepared for how big they sometimes get or how long they live. It can easily be a multi-general pet as they tend to live over 100 years! The spontaneous and crazy part of me totally wants to get one now, but so far, the practical part of me has won out. But seriously, how fun would it be to have a tortoise toddling around the backyard?!
Next up was turtles. Do you know the difference between turtles and tortoises? I do now. Turtles can swim and eat meat. Tortoises only live on land and eat plants. So, you know, if you ever find a tortoise, don't throw it in the water!

The highlight was feeding the tortoises. They may not move too fast, but they can sure finish off a piece of celery right quick. I could have fed them all day.
We saw all sorts of lizards, iguanas, an armadillo, and even a random otter. After that, it was time for the venomous snakes!
Cobras, vipers, rattle snakes - you name it, they had it. It was super freaky when the rattle snakes would start a rattlin' too. Seamus loved it.

Next up, the crocodilus. There are 23 different species of crocodilus (which includes alligators), and this place had like 20 of them. Again, I was amazed at the shear volume of reptiles they have.
The American Alligator was my favorite. This guy was huge! Fun fact, they got him and one other from a family here in Arizona that was keeping them as pets in their backyard. Crazy, right!
Did you know alligators won't eat humans? You could totally get bit by one if it makes a mistake and wind up seriously hurt or dead, but, you know, they won't eat you. Crocodiles, on the other hand, those bad boys will gobble you right up.

We ended the tour (which, by the way, ended up being 3 hours long!) with the non-venomous snakes.
It was a great way to finish off the experience. The handlers brought out a bunch of snakes and lizards that we could all touch and feel. Seamus was surprised the snakes were so squishy.
HPS is really an incredible place to visit if you're in the area. It's a great alternative to your run of the mill zoo, and I can't recommend it enough. They offer a valuable service and have a real passion for their work and these animals.

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