Keepers at Australian Reptile Park undertook the dangerous and mammoth task of catching and health-checking their population of American alligators before the winter season begins – and just in time for the forecast cold snap to hit the east coast of Australia. With over 40 adult alligators within the Alligator Lagoon, keepers had to be on their game for the extremely dangerous process.

During the winter months, the alligators enter a state of brumation, where their metabolism begins to slow down, their activity decreases, and they cease feeding due to the low water temperatures. Before brumation occurs, the team need to give every alligator a health check to ensure they’re in good condition, especially after breeding season.

Operations Manager at the Australian Reptile Park, Billy Collett said “Performing a health-check on a massive adult alligator is no simple task. The process involves keepers wrangling the alligator and restraining them as they check their muscular condition, dental health, and overall physical condition since they’ve just come out of breeding season. To make our job a little bit easier, before we let them go, we also applied a small amount of non-toxic paint onto the top of their heads to make sure we don’t catch the same alligator twice and ensure every alligator has been checked over.”

Mr Collett continued “During breeding season, both males and females can often sustain injuries from either fighting to breed with the best female or protecting the nesting site. If any of the alligators have sustained injuries or they’re simply not in the best health and they enter their brumation period, it becomes an even more difficult task to catch that gator and check it over.

“It was non-stop action out there on the lagoon today, and there were definitely a few close calls, but overall, this health-check was really positive! Every single alligator is in great condition as we head into the winter season, and we can’t wait for the weather to warm back up again so we can all see our alligators back in action during our Alligator Feeding Show,” Mr Collett concluded.

The Australian Reptile Park has the largest population of American alligators living in Australia and visitors can watch them being fed during the warmer months – generally from September until April. This show is a highlight of the day for visitors at the Park, as they watch the feisty alligators strike out of the water to grab their lunch.