For many years we had an immensely popular "Top Ten Most Venomous Snakes" list posted here at the Reptile Gardens and, subsequently, on our web site. Many of you remember this list and have asked about it. We get thousands of web search hits to our site every year looking for just such a list.
We have just launched a new, totally revised Reptile Gardens web site. Things change fast in the cyberworld and we do our best to keep up. It took months of work by our staff and the folks at Robert Sharp and Associates to get things exactly like we wanted them and it is finally done. We think this new site with its simpler interface will be easier to negotiate - visitors will be able to quickly find what they are looking for. It will also work nicely on mobile devices.
Starting this Saturday the 18th of December Santa will be here every day through Christmas Eve. Bring the kids to meet Santa and take your own photos with him. Reptile Gardens is the only place where you can take your photo not only with Santa but also include Fluffy the Gator or Marilyn the Albino Python in the photo. The most unique Christmas photos ever. And it is FREE too!
Here at Reptile Gardens, we learn a lot from our animal friends. For instance, did you know that many snake species lie absolutely motionless for long periods of time after a big meal? In large pythons it can be weeks! The snakes take a siesta, because energy is precious to cold-blooded animals, and they can conserve this energy by eliminating all unnecessary movement. We've taken this lesson to heart, and have organized a "Green Team" to identify ways to eliminate waste, and conserve resources around the Gardens.
Our Green Team, led by Assistant Manger Clint Hubbeling, has come up with a number of great ideas to conserve, such as: Reusing office paper by printing on both sides of the paper.
Every year, something beautiful happens at Reptile Gardens. An army of gardeners descends upon the grounds, and transforms the winter barren flowerbeds into a fragrant sea of stunning annual flowers. Our gardeners plant over 40,000 annuals, and hundreds of perennial species as well. While many people know that Reptile Gardens is home to the world's largest reptile collection, folks are often pleasantly surprised to learn that our grounds are a botanical-lovers paradise as well. Guests often ask our gardeners for advice and ideas on plant species selection and general care. To transform your backyard into a private oasis, our resident expert "green-thumb" David Yahne details a few favorite plant species which thrive in the Dakota climate.
Winners of the Reptile Gardens Coloring Contest Announced
June 2010 — Despite the lack of sunshine, Reptile Gardens had a great turn out for their 73rd Guest Appreciation Weekend, Birthday Party for their beloved giant tortoise Methuselah, and Coloring Contest.
Black Widow showing belly marking, not always a perfect hourglass.
As warm weather approaches, we start getting calls about spiders and odd bugs people find in their garages, storage sheds, yards, and houses. The most common calls we get are in regard to spiders, especially black widows, brown recluse and a mysterious GIANT! spider that seems to strike fear in all who see one. The latter would be the common wolf spider.
Out of the tens of thousands of spiders in the world, only a few are dangerous to humans. The most common dangerously venomous spiders in the US are the Black Widow, the Brown Recluse, and the Hobo spider - and they rarely bite people. Far more people die each year of bee and wasp stings that from spider bites. And by the way, it is just a myth that the common daddy longlegs spider is extremely deadly - there is no scientific evidence to back up this fanciful tale.
Many people do not know that the Black Hills was one of the top finalists in the search for a location for the United Nations.
The beginnings of what was to become the United Nations were set in motion back in 1941. By 1942 the term United Nations, coined by Franklin Roosevelt, was first used. Over the next few years the UN Charter was created and ratified and a search was begun for a place to house this new international organization.
Brockelsby family honored for generations of success
Fresh off of their April 1 season opening, Rapid City family attraction Reptile Gardens has been named the 2010 South Dakota Family-Owned Business of the Year by the Small Business Association District Office.
Founded by Earl Brockelsby more than 70 years ago, the Black Hills reptile park is still managed by Earl's children, grandchildren, and nephew. The Brockelsby family and park staff are dedicated to the continued success of Reptile Gardens, which today houses more species of reptiles than any other zoo or park in the world.
Mac the Scarlet Macaw posing for one of his many portraits
On Wednesday, 10 March, we lost one of the very few living creatures that has been at Reptile Gardens longer than even us long-timers, Mac our Scarlet Macaw.
Like most parrots in the days before wildlife laws and captive breeding, Mac was captured in the wild, in South America. He was brought to the US in the early 1950's and arrived here at Reptile Gardens as a large adult bird in 1956. We estimate his age at the time of his death to have been over 70 years.
Black Hills attraction offers adventure, excitement for whole family
Reptile Gardens has been a staple of the Black Hills family entertainment industry for decades, drawing thousands of visitors each year to view exotic animals up close. With just days to go before the park's season opening, staff are eagerly anticipating the upcoming flood of visitors.
Sometimes the internet is a great source of information and sometimes...well...it is like the National Enquirer. If you are not intimately involved in a particular area of study it can be pretty hard to know the difference when reading things online or seeing them on TV. To make matters more complicated, most of us (me included) tend to be pretty trusting anyway. When it comes to reptiles and amphibians, you can count on the staff at Reptile Gardens for the true facts, no sensational tabloid-style lies or exaggerations from us.
This week I am posting a column written 44 years ago by long-time Reptile Gardens General Manager, Jim Campbell. In 1965, Reptile Gardens ran a series of newspaper columns in celebration of the move to our new location on Highway 16. For our first 28 years we had been closer to town but were forced to move when the highway was widened and moved.
This is part 3 of our answer to a recent question involving increased snake activity in the Black Hills. If you missed them, read Part 1 and Part 2 . This time we'll give you some advice on how to protect yourself and your animals from snakes.
During the many years we have collected snakes, we have accumulated dozens of experiences, some of which were nearly tragic, but as long as they didn't end in tragedy, they can be looked back upon with humor.