Another successful year of breeding for ARP’s alligators

51 eggs raided from one female American Alligator “Betsy” at Australian Retail Park annual nest raid today!

Alligator

Head of Reptiles, Billy Collett and Tim Faulkner, General Manager at Australian Reptile Park undertook the start of the park’s annual alligator nest raid today, with the first nest raid resulting in 51 eggs collected from female alligator known as Betsy.

 

Betsy was born at the park and is 35 years old, her eggs are collected for incubation as a method of preventing them being eaten by cannibalistic alligators, who would happily raid a nest or two if permitted.

 

In approx 70 days with their sex will be determined by the temperature at which they’re incubated.  Native to swamps and wetlands in south-eastern United States, the American Alligator’s eggs won’t hatch in Australia’s hot climate.

 

Commenting on today’s process, Billy Collett, Head of Reptiles said, “Betsy was all fired up protecting her nest proving for a very dangerous and difficult capture.

 

“We had to draw Betsy’s attention to have her move away from the nest.  We did this by tapping the ground in front of her nest to direct her attention towards us.  Once we had Betsy’s attention of the nest we threw a top jaw rope on her, pulling Betsy away from the nest allowing me to dive on her back and restrain her.

 

“To reduce stress and ensure Betsy is not familiar with her surroundings, I used my hands to blindfold her while Tim Faulkner, General Manager at the park used tape to restrain her jaws and tape them shut.”

 

Tim was successful in collecting up to 51 eggs, close to record, which was 53 at the park.   Over the next two weeks Billy and Tim will raid up to 20 nests, incubating approximately 300  eggs for a captive population within Australian zoos.

 

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 Australian Reptile Park has the largest population of American alligators in Australia. They are kept in a large naturalistic lagoon, with alligators living harmoniously together in a matter that isn’t possible with their more aggressive relatives, Australian crocodiles.

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