We care for several reptiles and crocodilians, including some that had been kept as pets illegally. Read some of their stories below.
East African Nile crocodile
We saw Ingozi at a small Reptile Distributor headed for the pet trade. We thought that was incredibly irresponsible as Nile Crocodiles are the second largest reptile in the world today. They are highly aggressive and very dangerous animals. We decided to take him in to make sure he had the proper care and maintenance for an animal that can grow up to 20 ft long and reach weights of more than 1,500 lbs.
With more than 1.5 million alligators in the state of Florida, you would think we would run into them all the time in our daily lives. The truth is, they want to avoid us as much as we want to avoid them… unless we do something irresponsible like feeding them.
This is how Tiny became a resident with us. Someone was feeding him, and he started to associate humans with food. Florida Fish & Wildlife was called in when he was seen following some children around a neighborhood. Deemed a “nuisance” gator, he was not a candidate for release. So, now he serves as an on-site education animal helping us to teach people to respect these animals and keep their distance.
American Alligator (runt)
Our director, Christin, was visiting an alligator farm when she saw a small gator being thrown in with a group of much larger and older animals. When farms like this produce a “runt,” they often throw them in with other gators as food, which is also what happens to runts in the wild. They get picked off by other prey.
Christin decided that this shouldn’t be Brutus’ fate, so she jumped into the pen, pulled the other alligators off him, and saved him. Because she is both crazy and had the proper licensing, the farm let her keep him. With missing toes and a badly injured eye, Brutus required a lot of care to nurse him back to health. Now this little gator is a fantastic ambassador for his species in our educational program.
African Spur Thigh Tortoise
Goliath was taken away from his owner after the man tried to sell the tortoise for drugs. When he came to us, we were stunned to see what Goliath had been eating. When he went the bathroom, we found bits of drywall and even Mardi Gras beads. Apparently he had been starving and was eating whatever he could find on the floor of the house where he was being kept.
We nursed him back to health, and he now serves as a great example of how people buy an animal at a pet store without really knowing what they are getting into. Goliath started off at 2-3 inches but is on his way to being 2-3 feet long. Spur Thigh Tortoises eat a lot – more than most people realize. They also like burrow, so if they are outside they often burrow under houses and can cause extensive property damage.
Goliath could also live to be over 100 years old. So before you get a pet, make sure you research it well… and don’t try to sell them for drugs!
Black & White Tegu
Originally from Argentina, this lizard usually inhabits the tropical rain forests, savannas, and semi-deserts of east and central South America. We found him crossing a highway here in Central Florida. Tegus are considered an invasive species in Florida. Due to the devastation of Hurricane Andrew, several reptile breeding facilities were destroyed, leaving their inhabitants to roam and breed freely.
Tegus are usually quite aggressive. They have been known to chase both children and pets. But Crawley is a super sweet lizard who has become part of our education program, teaching about the challenges of invasive species and what we can responsibly do to address the problems they cause.
Albino Burmese Python
Blonde came to us from a young boy who bought him as a small snake at a reptile show. The boy did a good job caring for his pet, keeping the snake warm and feeding him well. As Blonde grew larger, the boy’s mother asked how big the snake would get. The boy said he didn’t know, so they went on the internet to find out.
Imagine their surprise when they learned that the “little snake” they bought is actually one of the largest snake species on Earth. Burmese Pythons average between 16-23 feet long and over 200 lbs. In Florida, these snakes must be microchipped, and owners must maintain a license to keep the animal. The CARE Foundation is one of a select group of licensed reptile handlers who can take in these large constrictors, so Blonde found a new home with us.
The CARE Foundation is one of a select group of reptile rescues that are licensed to take in venomous animals. We have a wide variety of reptiles including a Black Mamba, Spitting Cobras, various rattlesnakes, Gila monsters and more. Many of these animals were confiscated from people who purchased and kept them illegally as pets.
To meet all of our reptiles, please schedule private tour!