Yesterday, Australian Reptile Park keepers undertook a highly dangerous alligator nest raid in the alligator lagoon.  Home to 55 adult alligators, the process is considered extremely dangerous and certainly keeps the hearts of staff racing. Ally the female alligator laid her eggs on Boxing Day with staff unveiling the clutch of 18 eggs yesterday.

This year the danger was more intense than ever before as the Australian Reptile Park welcomes 20 new male alligators in March 2021. This brought the total of massive, deadly alligators to 55, keeping the staff on their toes more than ever before!

Head Keeper at the Australian Reptile Park Daniel Rumsey said “After relaxing over Christmas, there’s nothing that gets your heart racing again quite like Alligator nest raiding! We do this every year and all of the keepers love getting muddy and helping save the baby alligators from what could be a potentially dangerous situation with Australia’s heat, and larger cannibalistic adult alligators”.

The nest raiding process involves keepers wrangling the alligator, restraining her and removing the eggs from the nest.  The mothers are in a high maternal state and keen to guard their eggs, making them very aggressive, hence the caution taken by the staff!

The nest raid comes with the alligator’s best interests at heart.  Native to swamps and wetlands in the south-east of the United States of America, the alligator’s eggs won’t hatch in Australia’s hot climate with upcoming temperatures with the potential to reach in excess of 40° Celsius.  The eggs removed during the nest raid will be artificially incubated and hatch in about 70 days with their sex determined by the temperature at which they are incubated.

Commenting on the process Daniel Rumsey added, “One slightly off step out of place can cost you, so we are very careful to follow a well-thought-out plan and ensure the protective mother is well restrained and doing okay herself. Once we let her go, we also monitor her for the rest of the day to ensure she has not been distressed. This year with the additional large males to the lagoon, we had a few more female alligators looking to be gravid (holding eggs) than usual, so it could be a busy summer for us!”

In the wild, American alligators guard their eggs until they hatch, then gently dig the hatchlings out, take them in her mouth to the water and protect them while they grow and learn survival skills.   The biggest threat to a baby alligator is another alligator, as the species are cannibalistic – which is another reason why staff remove them from the lagoon filled with 55 adult alligators.

The Australian Reptile Park has the largest population of American alligators living in Australia and visitors can catch them being fed during the summer school holidays at 11:00am daily. For thrill-seeking guests that want to get close to the action, they can book an Alligator Feeding encounter. This adrenaline pumped experience gives visitors a once in a lifetime opportunity (if they dare!) to feed the giant Alligators themselves.