JANUARY 9, 2013

400-lb. alligator leaving Valley sanctuary for new home in Florida

Rescued by Phoenix Herpetological Society after 2005 seizure of illegal reptiles, “Spike” will join two females in breeding program
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SCOTTSDALE — At nearly 400 pounds and about nine feet long, an American Alligator named Spike has outgrown his home in the desert at Phoenix Herpetological Society (PHS), and will begin a new life at a preserve in Florida.

phs-spike and russBefore he embarks on a road trip to Texas, where he will be transferred to his new keepers, PHS staff will have to get the huge reptile into a crate specially built for him on the afternoon of January 10. Russ Johnson, President of PHS and Dan Marchand, Curator, will then drive him because he is over the weight limit to fly to Florida.

Johnson and Marchand have a lot of experience handling and crating alligators, crocodiles and other reptiles, but Spike’s size will make the job more challenging. He is among the largest of the sanctuary’s nearly 1,500 animals.

Spike was rescued in 2005 after a trailer of 32 illegally kept reptiles was stopped near Casa Grande and seized by law enforcement. PHS gave homes to all of the animals, including Spike, and Tuesday, an alligator that became a local celebrity and education ambassador for the sanctuary. At the time, Spike was about five feet long.

“Spike has been a member of the PHS family and we are going to miss him, but he has outgrown his enclosure here,” says Johnson. “He has two large females waiting for him, and will have plenty of room in a natural habitat in Florida. Saving reptiles is a major part of our mission and we are very happy for Spike.”

Photo: Spike with PHS President Russ Johnson.
Photo by Wendy Cassidy, Phoenix Herpetological Society