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Scales and Tales

Yikes! Another Fake Giant Reptile

This photo keeps resurfacing and several of our staff members just got it emailed to them again. So, in our unending crusade to dispel as many reptile myths as we can we will have a go at this one.

Huge gator, or forced perspective?Huge gator, or forced perspective?


Here is the current ridiculous story attached to this photo:
"This alligator was found between Centre and Leesburg, Alabama, near a house!Neighbors had been telling the Rogers that they had seen a mammoth alligator in the waterway that runs behind their house, but they dismissed the stories as exaggerations. Alabama Parks and Wildlife game wardens were forced to shoot the beast. Joe G., 6'5' tall, a game warden, walks past the 28 foot, 1 inch alligator he shot and killed in their back yard."

First of all let's start with the "6 foot 5 inch" game warden. Really? Six foot five inches? Give me a break. Now even the people in the photos are giants.

Once again we are seeing the wonders of forced perspective. It has to do with the angle of the shot and the actual location of man and animal in relation to each other. We discussed forced perspective in a previous post. Have another look at the photo we shot in our parking lot - no Photoshop, just forced perspective.

Now let's get to the truth about alligators. We have been in the reptile business for 73 years, our staff has a combined 145 years of experience, and we have never seen a reliable report of any alligator over 15 feet long. Our General Curator, Ken Earnest, grew up in his family business, California Alligator Farm started by his grandfather in 1906. Of the thousands of alligators they had in California and in Ken's later work in Florida he never saw or heard of an alligator over 15 feet long.

And once again I refer you to our reward sign, the one that has been here at the Reptile Gardens for over 50 years. On it we currently offer $20,000 for a 16-foot alligator. However, unlike our 8 foot rattlesnake reward offer, we have never had a single person contact us claiming of having one.

So as is always the case, we have a photo of an impressive big reptile made silly because of someone's vivid imagination. This was a big gator probably between 12 and 14 feet long, although he is a bit emaciated. And so goes our crusade...to be continued.

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Sky Dome

Step inside the Sky Dome to experience a warm tropical climate while exploring our indoor jungle filled with exotic and unique flora and fauna. 

Rattlesnake Gulch

Try your hand at gemstone sluicing or go on a 3D safari. Our very own old west ghost town as numerous photo opportunities and activities to keep the kids entertained.

Cheyenne's Habitat

Cheyenne the bald eagle has been a permanent resident of Reptile Gardens for 11 years with permission of the US Fish & Wildlife Service.

Maniac's habitat

Maniac is our resident giant saltwater crocodile. At over 16 feet long and1,350pounds, he is one of the largest giant crocodiles in the western hemisphere. If you don't see him at his enclosure inside the SkyDome, make sure to check outside!

Prairie Dog Town

Get down to eye-level with these fuzzy little animals and see firsthand what life is like in a typical prairie dog town!

Methuselah's Playground

Methuselah was a giant Galapagos Tortoise weighing in at over 600 pounds, and a long time resident of Reptile Gardens. His memory lives on at this playground featuring a bronze statue of Methuselah himself. 

Snake Show stage

Get up-close-and-personal with our snake ambassadors in this family-friendly snake handling show.

Gator Show stage

Dozens of Alligators, Crocodiles, and Caimans and one keeper...what could go wrong? Separate fact from fiction in this educational, family-friendly show and get a chance to pet Fluffy, our baby gator!

Bird Show stage

Interact with birds from around the world at the Bird Show, where they love to show off their beauty and intelligence. 

Gift Shop

Carrying a wide variety of Reptile Gardens souvenirs as well as educational books for every age and a variety of stunning rocks, minerals, and fossils from all over the world.

Green Parrot Cafe

Hungry? Refuel with buffalo burgers, The Maniac burger, Black Mamba Shakes, Indian Tacos, and more!

Giant Tortoise

Don't miss this photo opportunity! Get up-close and personal with these friendly giants who love to have their neck scratched and are great with kids. 

Tortuga Falls

Take a stroll through this meditative garden, gaze into our turtle and koi pond, listen to the waterfalls, and don't miss Darwin the Kookaburra! 

Walking Garden

We're about more than just Reptiles! Our outdoor gardens are beauty to be seen as they change throughout the season and year after year. 

Living Wall

This vertical garden is a wall of color that grows and changes through the Summer season creating striking patterns and unique portraits as it grows. 

Pet A Python

Don't miss your chance to Pet a Python!  Our snake handlers ar here to talk about any questions or myths you've heard about snakes. Don't forget your camera! Our pythons are very photogenic and love to photos with you!