It’s not exactly Jurassic Park, but there are a lot of reptiles with large teeth at Critchlow’s Alligator Sanctuary

Critchlow’s takes in alligators and other reptiles that have nowhere else to go. Sometimes people realize they can’t take care of hundreds of pounds of gator as a pet and sometimes the reptiles are found abandoned. 

No matter what, alligators, tortoises and even a couple of crocodiles have a home at Critchlow’s. The public is invited to meet them. 

Awake in spring and summer, dozens of alligators can be found lounging in their habitats at the sanctuary. They have plenty of pools, because water is an alligator’s happy place. 

Walk along the viewing platform to see them from up above. For a closer look, buy a bucket of food – the gators will come running if you toss out some treats.  

Lina Critchlow, who once dreamed of training dolphins, puts on demonstrations with Goliath and Medusa, the two biggest gators at the sanctuary. 

She says that alligators are like toddlers -- they know their name, but they’re still going to do what they want and that’s okay. After all, who can say no to an alligator who is 11 feet long? 

The young alligators are especially cute. They make a yip-yip-yip sound when they’re happy, which tends to be when you’re feeding them snacks. But even Medusa and Goliath, the two biggest gators in the sanctuary, are sweet when they cuddle. 

The sanctuary has around 200 domesticated alligators, an average of 70 turtles and tortoises, and more animals coming in every year. 

There are two different animal encounters that guests can pay extra for: one is going into the tortoise playpen and feeding them vegetables (when it comes to food, they move faster than you think). Another is a chance to hold a small alligator that has been trained for handling. 

If you’re really interested in handling alligators, call up Critchlow’s about helping move the animals in the spring and fall for hibernation. It’s open to the public.