Monday, August 3, 2015

Rodents and Reptiles

We had a very interesting day Saturday seeing creatures we had not expected to see in Colorado.  Our day started at Alamosa National Wildlife Refuge.  It is not the time of the year to visit the refuge and we saw only a few other people there.  Best time to visit is during the migratory seasons as spring and fall.  Many birds can be seen there then.  However, we were surprised at the water and shore birds we did see.  The wetlands here still have some water in them, cattails and other water-loving plants are in evidence of that.  We also saw many ibis, herons, coots and a variety of ducks.  There was another little critter scurrying across the road, and often endangering his life getting in front of the car.
We think that is a ground squirrel, and not a chipmunk.  The latter have black stripes that go across their face.  We saw most of the refuge in our car, as there were many biting insects outside as mosquitoes and sand flies.  We did hike part of the river trail, where we got some views of the Rio Grande River.
The head waters of that river are about 75 miles from the refuge.  I am so use to seeing that river in Texas, seems strange to find it here!  Talking about things out of place, after the refuge we drove over to the Colorado Gators Reptile Park.  Besides gators this farm raises tilapia, it is the oldest running farm of its kind in North America.  In 1959 it became legal to farm raise fish.   In the 1970s a Erwin and Lynne Young started this place because of the presence of a geothermal well.  The 200 foot well stays at 87 degrees, ideal for heating fish tanks and gator pens.
The alligators were brought in to help get rid of the fish waste.  The talipia are of a white hybrid type, there are about 100 different species of talapia.  The fish is the second most cultivated fish, carp being the first.  This farm wastes nothing.  There is a hydroponic building on the premises.  Fish emulsion is pumpted to the upper level to a hydroponic bed where it is used by plants, and returned back to plants after filtration.  Many tropical plants can be found in this building

This is also a zoo of sorts.  Over the years people have dropped off their exotic animals which they no longer wanted or were able to keep. There are pens of a variety of snakes, turtles, lizards, frogs, and toads, While we were there an alligator rodeo was going on.  Alligators were being roped and brought in for micro chipping, weighing and a variety of other medical tests.
Seems to me that there was more grand-standing going on than serious business!  We also were surprised that the staff were walking around in the pond of alligators.  The farm gives each visitor a bucket of chow to feed the gators, maybe they are so full they don't want to take a bite out of anyone!  Also interesting to me was the loud hissing noise the gators made when angry- they always seemed to be quiet creatures to me.

No comments:

Post a Comment