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Rainforest Reptile Refuge - Surrey
Albino Burmese Python
photo courtesy Christine Schramm
I think my Dad's been reading too many Magic School Bus books to Jen.
He's starting to sound like Ms. Frizzle. Last weekend, all I said
was, "What does an anaconda look like? These were his exact words,
"Good question Nathe, let's go for a field trip and find out."
Within 45 minutes we were pulling up to a big building with a rusty grey aluminum roof. "You must be joking," I said. "This is somebody's garage." Dad pointed to the sign, Rainforest Reptile Refuge. I recognized the word Reptile, so I knew Dad was on the right track. But what the heck is a refuge? Dad explained, a refuge is a place people take animals they don't want anymore. I guess a baby caiman is cute when it's only 10 inches long, but not so cute when it's three or four feet long.
As soon as we walked in I couldn't believe my eyes. I've never seen so many slithery, slimy creatures, not to mention spiders, in my life. I even saw boa constrictors (not just one, but half a dozen, and one was even white). The lady who runs it, her name is Christine, she was expecting another boa any minute. I guess the owner got tired of feeding it. Did you know a boa constrictor feeds only once a month. I'd hate to be that meal.
I also saw something I would never have believed if I hadn't seen it with my own eyes--a crocodile getting a bath. Christine explained that crocodiles like to have their backs scrubbed. Dad said he wouldn't do it for a million dollars. I would, but only if they gave me a pair of metal gloves, in case Mr. Crocodile decided to make a meal of my arm.
Age group: I think even a two-year-old would like this place--as long as they're not afraid of tarantulas, bats, and snakes.
Expense rating: Going to the Reptile Refuge is not an expensive outing. Mom and Dad only had to pay $7, and Jen and I were $5 each. I think seniors and students older than 12 are $6. Christine also has a box for donations, because as she explained the refuge is run on a shoestring. A discount coupon is available.
: The Reptile Refuge has the most slimy, creepy creatures I've ever seen. We saw iguanas, Chinese water dragons, turtles, monitor lizards and plenty of snakes. It's like stepping into a book on rainforest jungles, only you don't have to go all the way to Africa. We found out reptiles aren't that bad after all; although Mom said "In your dreams," when I asked if I could bring a baby lizard home.
: It's hot and humid in the refuge, plus the smell is not pretty. Christine told us she has to paint every couple of months because the moisture keeps peeling off the paint. Mom and Jen didn't last too long before they needed a breadth of fresh air. If you're already feeling squeamish, like when Mom was pregnant, I think I'd skip it for another time.
Details: The Rainforest Reptile Refuge is in south Surrey, about 1.5 miles north of the U.S./Canada Pacific Truck Border crossing. The address is 1395 - 176 Street. It's not hard to find. Dad didn't even need to ask for directions.
Open open Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays until the Summer.
Call (604) 538-1711 for more information and holiday hours. Website: rainforestsearch.com
Season: All seasons
Educational highlights: One of Christine's pythons was found in a Surrey apartment, the previous owner had "lost" it. The new tenant woke up one night to a bunch of clanging in her bathroom. When she opened the door she found herself face to face with a python. Mom said she probably would have fainted if it were her. Anyway, Christine brought the snake back to health, because it was nothing but skin and bones when she got it. I guess the snake was looking for some food and it ventured out of it's hiding spot, the ventilation shaft.
Fun for the adult?: I think Dad liked the refuge more than Mom did. Apparently he had a baby turtle for a pet when he was my age. One day his turtle was gone when he got home from school. His Mom said the turtle ran away from home. He found out later his grandmother made turtle soup out of it. Mom said the refuge was interesting, but fifteen minutes inside was enough for her.
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