THERE’S no rest for the fearless animal keepers at the Australian Reptile Park over Christmas.
The three-person team took their lives in their hands yesterday to raid the park’s alligator nests. About 40 American alligators call the park’s giant lagoon home.
Two keepers restrain the female while a third raids the nest, removing up to 60 eggs.
Alligator mothers are excellent protectors. In their natural habitat, the mother will guard the eggs until they hatch, then dig out the hatchlings. She then takes them in her mouth to the water and protects them until they learn survival skills.
Yesterday’s raid became even riskier due to the presence of a rogue alligator, which has taken to charging the keepers.
‘‘We’re not sure whether he is the boss, or thinks he’s the boss of the other male alligators,’’ executive manager Tim Faulkner said.
All the alligator eggs laid at the park will be removed. Baby alligators typically hatch in about 70 days and their sex can be determined by the incubating temperature.
A temperature of 29degrees will produce a female and 32degrees, a male.