Luxurious Alligators

Whenever I hear or read the word “luxury” out of any context I think of Monty Python’s routine, “The Four Yorkshiremen.” The word was uttered ONCE, but the WAY in which it was spoken said everything about luxury.

I live in a big valley rimmed with mountains. I got to show it off a bit today, potato farms, sprinklers, broken trucks, old, empty farmhouses and all. The barley is ripe, potatoes still blooming, blue sky waiting for monsoon clouds to come in (August is the wettest month). We were heading toward Colorado Gators to show the 8 year old among us the enormous reptiles that have been rescued by this single Colorado family who have been in the valley — with their fig tree — since the 1880s. The entire farm sits on a stream and over a 2000 foot deep thermal aquifer and part of it is a greenhouse.

I don’t know anything about them except in meeting them at Colorado Gators and chatting with a kid who’s working there. But there are signs around “This fig tree came with the family when they moved here from Kentucky in 1887.”  Sometime in the ’70s they got the idea of farming tilapia, but the tilapia needed population control so they began rescuing gators and became a refuge for all kinds of reptiles that people had taken in and then were not able to keep.


A couple of happy Rhinoceros Iguanas

My favorites are the green iguanas because for a short time I had one named Wilma. Colorado Gators also have a couple of very large red-tail boas and I also like them because, for a while, I had a little one named Ananda. I liked my “exotic” critters but finding a long-term home for them was truly a problem, especially Ananda who, though he was very tame, would ultimately grow to the size where I would become prey.

A sign outside Colorado Gators says, “This is a working farm. It smells.”

Besides all the various tortoises, snakes and amphibians, there are a lot of gators. Colorado Gators has movie star alligators living out their golden years. There are enough white alligators to make Werner Herzog rethink his whole white alligator agenda. There is an Egyptian alligator — the most fierce man-eating alligator (but, the sign says, they make extraordinarily good and caring parents) — and several Caimans. Alligators can do fine in the cold and I’ve been there to see alligators lying on the snow, basking in the Colorado winter sunshine.

I don’t know exactly if it’s luxury to have an alligator rescue within a 30 minute drive through fields and small towns, but it feels like to to me.

13 thoughts on “Luxurious Alligators

    • Hard to go wrong with large man-eating reptiles. Along with alligators and lizards and snakes there are four emus, a peacock, turkeys and some chickens. The whole time I was there, I thought I was an a dinosaur exhibit.

  1. Garry feels about snakes the way I feel about spiders, which is very very negative. However, this does NOT extend to lizards, which both of us like. They don’t mix well with dogs and for me, require simply more care than I feel ready for. But I do like iguanas very much. They always looks … I don’t know … smart? Like behind those eyes, they are really thinking.

    I never have found alligators inherently scary. I don’t want one to eat me, but I don’t have nightmares about them, either. They are just creatures around which to be careful, as I would be around any large predator.

    We have a couple of wolf habitats locally. I think it’s absolutely a luxury! I even feel that way about our local farms where they feed the wild turkeys so that we have many more of them than we reasonably should.

    • Iguanas are smart. Wilma was a true pet and I enjoyed hanging out with her. I even planted three hibiscus bushes so I could grow flowers for her to eat. She had a little halter and a leash and we would spend time in the front yard, away from the dogs, and she would roam around and get some real sunlight which they really need. But I knew it wouldn’t work out long term and found her a home with a kid who had a whole room to give her. And then learned Wilma was a he. 🙂

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