The May 26 excursion to the Armadale Reptile Centre attracted a good turnout of 11 members and two visitors (the latter via the Meetup site) to attend on a pleasant, sunny morning. We made our way inside where we met one of the owners, Klaas Gaikhorst, who kindly took the time to walk around with our group and answer any queries that were raised.
There were many reptile species from WA and other states in the exhibits in the main hall: Geckos, Skinks, Dragons, Pythons and venomous snakes were to be found. Some were species typically found on and around the Swan Coastal Plain, such as Bearded Dragons, Shingleback Skinks (Bobtails), Blue-tongued Lizard, Carpet Pythons, Dugites, Mulga Snakes, Death Adders and Tiger Snakes. We all agreed that one of the Dugites was the largest specimen we had ever seen. Other exhibits contained species from the north of WA, such as the Olive Python, Black-headed Pythons, Green and Spotted Tree Frogs, Long-nosed Water Dragons and Frilled Lizards. A few eastern states species were also on show, including the Eastern Water Dragon.
Klaas told us that we were fortunate to have a sunny morning and that the reptiles in the outdoor exhibits were therefore likely to be seen. This was immediately evident when we looked into the crocodile exhibit to find the female Saltwater Crocodile was out of the pool, soaking up the sun. In other exhibits we could see Bobtails and Blue-tongues congregating in the areas bathed in sunlight to absorb the warmth of the sun.
It was a similar situation in the Monitor exhibits where we saw Gould’s Sand Monitors (left,
a Lace Monitor and a Heath Monitor out in the open.
The centre does not only have reptiles on display—several species of birds are found in the numerous aviaries on site. One bird that was attracting a lot of attention was the male Australian Bustard, a magnificent specimen that was putting on an impressive mating display for the female with whom he shared the aviary. It was a magical experience for all the visitors.
To allow visitors to get closer to one of the reptile residents, Klaas brought a large Carpet Python onto the central lawn area. The python had a very placid demeanour and was very popular with visiting families, especially for young children who enjoyed the experience of getting close to a snake.
Having had a good look around the exhibits, we gathered to enjoy a picnic lunch and reflect on a very enjoyable morning. We all thanked Klaas for the time he devoted to passing on his extensive knowledge of reptiles to our group; it was much appreciated.