Reptile Gardens

If you’re ever near Rapid City, SD, you should visit the Reptile Gardens.

They have lots and lots of reptiles, more than I’ve seen at any other reptile-based roadside attraction.

freaky, chill-out lizard

When I was there, June 2023, the reptiles were quite active. Not sure how they managed this, since reptiles on the whole are churlish, and lack industriousness.

You also get the weird, unmistakable odor of reptile urine as part of the package.

They have this sign on display:

reptile garden sign

500 smelt a year!??! Smelt are esteemed as food, and have a peculiar odor and taste! Which reptile has such gourmet tastes?

The Best Part of Reptile Gardens

All of that is cool, but by far the best thing is Alligator Wrestling. Some near minimum wage dude goes out in the alligator/crocodile/gharial pen, armed only with a small club to keep from ending up as gator chow. He told us all about crocodilians. Then he wrestled one. I know the dude had names for all of the crocodilians, I just can’t remember which one he wrestled. Charlie, maybe? Anyway, Charlie seemed resigned to lose the match.

alligator wrestling

After not get mangled by the slavering jaws of a dinosaur’s relative, near minimum wage dude gets a 5-gallon bucket full of raw chicken. The crocodilians clearly recognized the bucket.

alligator wrestling

Mmmm, chicken! The taste of raw chicken can get a lazy crocodilian to walk like its ancestors did back in the Triassic period.

I spent about 30 minutes gaping at the entire spectacle. It was literally jaw dropping. I highly recommend the South Dakota Reptile Gardens!