Get Up Close with Reptiles at Phoenix Herpetological Society

Where can you go to see crocodiles in the desert, tortoises from the Galapagos, and rare and endangered snakes? The Phoenix Herpetological Society (PHS) located in North Scottsdale is a sanctuary for reptiles that has all of these and more. I have spent time visiting the 2½-acre site and seen and touched many different reptiles. 

I met with Joe and Alex who work with the volunteer program and asked them about PHS. They have about 1,500 reptiles living there. Many of the animals are brought in by people who thought they could keep them as pets, but they became too big and too dangerous. Others are brought by the police because they are illegal to keep as pets. They also rescue sick and injured animals from the dessert. These animals are rarely let back into the wild; instead they are traded with zoos, sent to other sanctuaries, or kept at PHS. Alex and Joe want people learn about reptiles and let nature be nature.

There are many programs in PHS that kids might be interested in. PHS will go to schools and bring some animals for kids to learn about them. You can also arrange a tour to visit PHS and see the animals there. If you are 16 or older, you can volunteer to help take care of the animals. Kids under 16 can also help by participating in the Reptile Heroes Youth Volunteer Program. Each week focuses on a different reptile such as turtles, snakes,and lizards.

Recently I went to the lizards program and I enjoyed holding the lizards, and feeding them. One of my favorite lizards that day was the glass lizard. It is the only lizard without legs. I learned that they are the evolutionary link between lizards and snakes. Over time lizards lost their legs so they could burrow under ground and hide from birds. 

If you want to know more about Phoenix Herpetological Society you can visit the website

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