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The Reptile Collection

The Reptile collection is under the care of Herpetologist Leslie Brown , assisted by Reptile Keeper, Tracey Mitchell . Les has been employed by the Society for over 25 years, and Tracey over 10. Both worked closely with previous Zoo Director, Richard O'Grady . There is strong support for the reptile collection from most members of the Zoo Council, and all of the Executive Committee. Dave Blatchford is a member of the Council.

The facilities are extensive with good back-up, off-exhibit resources, though sadly, sorely in need of maintenance, which financial constraints have forced upon us in recent years.

Facilities

The bulk of the reptile collection is accommodated in a Tropical House , approximately 60 metres by 35 metres in area, with glass-fronted enclosures, serviced from the rear, overlooking a central, un-heated planted area. The steel structure of the building was second-hand when it was erected in 1969, though new cladding and brickwork gave it the appearance of being brand new. The main administrative office block of three offices and a staff toilet surmount a wide entrance porch, through which visitors must pass.

On passing through this entrance, one immediately encounters a glass cube, 2 metres square and three metres in height with a floor approximately 1.2 metres above the ground.
Behind the cube is a semi-circular enclosure with a 5 metre frontage and 3.5 metre depth.
Ranged down the right hand side are six enclosures each 3.5 by 2 metres in area, and a further six at 1.2 by 1.2 metres in area. The first has been converted to a glass-fronted incubator room. Heating on this side is provided by a Powermatic , oil-fired, hot air burner, with a temperature gradient hottest in the incubator room, then dropping slightly as further away from the heater you go. So, supplementary heating is provided by suspended heat-lamps and the incubators are individually electrically heated. There are three other large, rectangular enclosures in the central area, grouped next to the main semi-circular enclosure.

The enclosures arranged down the left-hand side of the Tropical House are large, ranging from 3 by 2 metres to 6 by 3 metres in area, and are heated by a combination of underfloor electrical heating and heat-lamps. Several are in need of roof maintenance, unfortunately, as water penetrates in heavy rain.

Reptiles first evolved 280 million years ago. Many types, including the dinosaurs died out. Four orders survive today and are described here:

All reptiles lack a physical mechanism to control body temperature against environment changes, so they occur in predominantly tropical climates. They all have waterproof skin, which is covered in scales, the outer part of these being shed in parts or as one piece when the animal literally grows too big for its skin.

Within the large hall of the Tropical House are free-flying birds of various types who choose to live communally, and feed together:

cockatiels, lovebirds and budgies eating off a log.

Parrotlets

Here we see 2 male cockatiels and 1 female, and 1 peach-faced lovebird in the background. Budgies; a Lutino (yellow) cock, cobalt (blue and white) Australian banded pied cock, a light green (green and yellow Australian banded pied cock, and in the middle a grey-green cock. Photos by Andy Smyth, Photographer. ©

You may also encounter parrotlets which free-fly in the Tropical House

External Resources

Noah's Ark - a reptile rescue centre and sanctuary in the South of England. They take all unwanted, sick etc reptiles. Contact Becky Beacher at: noahs-ark@freeuk.com