What is involved in taking care of reptiles? Listen to Lauren Cashman, a reptile keeper at St. Augustine Alligator Farm Zoological Park, who knows what it takes to care for these amazing creatures. Lauren loves educating visitors about the true nature of alligators and reptiles to make sure they do their part to preserve and protect them.
Hi, my name is Laura. I'm a reptile keeper at the St. Augustine Alligator Farm Zoological Park. We’re here to make sure that the collection does well and that the [animals] thrive. [We need] to be able to watch them and monitor any behavioral issues. We watch them [closer] during breeding season. It's a lot [of work] throughout the day and the alligator [area of the] farm is what we're known for. We have every living species here. If you want to work with [alligators] and learn about them, you come [to our farm].
This is where we hold a lot of our animals, [animals] that are not on display for various reasons either because they're babies, back-up [animals] or [being used for] breeding purposes. In zoos now, especially here, we're trying to get away from a lot of vegetables and fruits because it's kind of like candy for them. To [continue to] help them grow, they get a nice little salad to munch on once a week, but throughout the week they [mostly eat] leaves and hay. [Today] is their treat day.
It doesn't take much to stop a tortoise, you just have to give them a little scratch [under the chin]. The tortoises are like gentle giants, but they think a lot of things are food. You have to make sure that they're not coming after you for food. We work closely with a company in Missouri that created a crock pellet, and they've done really well creating a food for a lot of the different species [we have here].
To many people [that visit the farm], alligators are an absolutely frightening animal. We hear stories all the time from visitors who say [that they found] an alligator in their yard, [and they] called [animal control] to have it removed. Many people just don't realize what goes into [removing an alligator], and how many alligators are destroyed yearly because people don't know how to interact with them in the wild. I love to be able to educate people, show them how amazing [reptiles] are and share my love [of the reptiles with] them. I can really see people learning and [realizing] just how amazing these [reptiles] are. I love everything about this place. When I got the job here, I told my bosses that I feel like I've died and gone to heaven.