Blackbutt Reserve has welcomed three reptiles to its collection as it works to restore its family of wildlife in anticipation of new shows later this month.
Two olive pythons have arrived from Sydney Wildlife Zoo and will be front and centre of a new reptile show, while a central bearded dragon has been donated by a local private keeper.
Last October, thieves stole 14 reptiles in a brazen raid of the reserve’s wildlife enclosure. A variety of different types of pythons and lizards were taken from the popular tourist spot in the overnight break and enter.
The police investigation is still ongoing, but the reserve was quickly inundated with donations of reptiles after the loss, helping it begin to rebuild its collection.
Security measures at the park also received a major overhaul, with CCTV cameras, sensors, and security bars on doors and windows installed.
Reserve co-ordinator Brad West believes the new crop of slithery creatures presents a fresh start for the reserve and its keepers.
“They're happy [the staff], getting back into ours shows – it's quite depressing when someone breaks in and causes a lot of damage,” he said. “For us, it's a new beginning and new year. We don't own Blackbutt, but we spend a lot of hours here. My staff care for these animals every day; seven days a week, 365 days a year.”
The olive pythons are nearly two months old and measure 50cm in length. It’s anticipated they will grow to around one metre in their first year and over four metres once fully grown. A competition will be run on council’s social-media channels to name one of the snakes, with the winner to be awarded a VIP meet and greet.
At this stage of their life, the snakes eat “small mice” but can consume wallabies, birds, ducks and other mammals once fully developed.
“They’re a beautiful species,” Mr West said. “It’s good to have juvenile snakes because staff can really build a relationship with them as they grow.”
“For us, it's the first young clutch that we've got – two young olive pythons.
“It's exciting for us to see them grow over over time, but obviously it will take quiet a few years.”