Snakes usually don’t cause this much commotion at Alligator Adventure.
But it’s not every day that two massive reticulated pythons – one reaching about 20 feet long – move into the reptile house.
The male, named Tigger, and female, named T-2, have a custom-built space just for them in the attraction’s Reptile House and have been garnering quite a bit of attention since going on display last weekend.
“Crazy. It’s unbelievable,” Travis Hammel said as he peered through the glass on Tuesday as handlers got T-2 slithering around the space, showing her size. “That’s pretty impressive.”
The python pair – donated by the Phoenix Herpetological Society in Arizona, a frequent partner with Alligator Adventure – is the latest in a string of new creatures to move into Alligator Adventure which is aiming to keep the attraction fresh. Three gray wolves arrived at the start of summer, and 11 Chilean flamingos are expected to arrive from Florida in the next couple of weeks to settle into a new display space in between the wolves and the snack bar.
“We’ve got to change stuff up to keep people coming back,” said Thad Bowman, the attraction’s animal care specialist.
Reticulated pythons – native to Southeast Asia and named for the pattern on their scales – are known to be long snakes that average between 10 and 20 feet. A reticulated python is in the Guinness World Records book as the “longest snake ever in captivity.” Medusa, part of a haunted house in Kansas City, Mo., landed the record in October 2011 when she was measured at 25 feet, 2 inches long (it took 15 men to hold the 350-pound snake for measuring), according to the Guinness World Records website.
Alligator Adventure already had its fair share of pythons – including a burmese – as well as a king cobra, rattlesnakes, copperheads and others, with 42 different species and 64 snakes on display in the reptile house. But Bowman said it didn’t take long for officials to decide that they must have these two new pythons; T-2, the largest of the pair, stretches to about 20 feet long and weighs about 225 pounds, the attraction’s officials estimate.
“You don’t find pythons this big anymore,” he said. “They’re monsters.”
Manuel Gonsalves, Alligator Adventure’s snakekeeper, says Tigger and T-2 each eat about three rabbits a week.
Arnold Babcock of New York was one of the first visitors to see the python pair last weekend. On Tuesday, he was back checking in on them.
“It was so fascinating, we came back for it,” Babcock said. “I wanted to see if it was settled in.”
“It started there,” Babcock said pointing to the right of the display, “and was all the way over there” while pointing to the left side of the display. “It was stretched out big time.”
Babcock and a crowd of others watched as Gonsalves and other handlers moved T-2 from her perch this week.
So is Babcock a big snake person?
“Yeah, as long as I’m on this side of the glass,” he said.