I can fully understand how people can fall in love with cuddly creatures like cats, dogs, rabbits and guinea pigs. With the exception of cats, who I find give no return feelings for the love that you shower upon them, I too can go moisty-eyed and a bit gaga at a small furry creature. However, I am a little strange in that I really like the types of critters of which most people are afraid.
Spiders, lizards and snakes I find to be quite fascinating, even though they tend to care less about people than cats. I find there to be something magnificent about creatures that are cold blooded and which care little for normal social interaction.
One of the best reptile centres that I have visited was in the Central Australian town of Alice Springs. The Alice, as locals call it, is the perfect place to showcase reptiles as the town is smack bang in the middle of Australia, surrounded on all sides by desert, which is the natural domain of snakes and lizards.
The Alice Springs Reptile Centre is not large, but it is certainly fascinating, and the knowledge they impart about these beautiful and interesting creatures is second to none.
One of the most notable of residents is Terry the Saltwater Crocodile. Salties, or Estuarine Crocodiles to give them their correct title, are the top of the food chain. These things can grow to several metres in length, and they are superlative hunters. Terry is fortunate to have his own pond, and you can climb down a few stairs where there is a thick window which allows you to view Terry as he floats in his pond. You do get very close to Terry, but remain safe behind the glass, so you can see just how dainty this goliath really is. He can outrun and out swim any human with ease. His massive tail could break your legs with a single swipe and his jaws are a death trap, but when you see Terry afloat in his own domain he is graceful and delicate as nothing moves, except his eyes, which follow you with interest.
Try to attend one of the shows, which occur three times daily, to learn about the variety of lizards which each have their own unique defence mechanism, including the blue tongue lizard which has a tale which mimics its head, and rear feet that face backwards so it can trick predators into thinking that it is two lizards instead of just one.
Although there are many attractions in Alice Springs, the reptile centre is certainly one of the very best.