Meet and Greet | Nature Center

The Leonard J. Raker Nature Center Discovery Lab has become the home of an alligator, leopard spotted gecko, and most recently, a snake. Year-round, guests enjoy visiting our Nature Center to meet our animals and to learn all about them.

Animal Meet and Greet

This week, we are sitting down to interview our animals in the Nature Center and see what they have to say! Our South Carolina Master Naturalist, Brandy Cloos, joined us for the interview to give us a little more insight into the lives of our animals.

Hatchling Humor
Species: Rat Snake (Elaphe Obsoleta)
Name: Gandalf
Age: 2 weeks old
  1. What is your favorite food?
    1. I like to eat pinkies. Those are super tiny frozen mice. My mom thaws them out and lets them get warm before I eat them. As I grow, the size of the mice I eat will grow as well.
  2. What do you love about Ocean Lakes Family Campground?
    1. My first experience in Ocean Lakes was hatching in someone’s camper. The camper owner was nice enough to inform maintenance, so they could come rescue me. I was very happy they did not kill me. I was very afraid, but I would not hurt anyone. I did not know I would come out of my egg inside a sewer hose compartment. I am glad to be at the Nature Center now, though! I think I will be very happy here.
  3. What are three fun facts about you?
    1. As a juvenile, it is difficult to determine what color I will be when I grow up, because we all look the same until we’re larger. I could stay grey with splotches, turn completely black, or even turn yellow with stripes!
    2. Even though I am a baby, I already know a lot of things, like what to eat and how to hide from predators. Even though my snake mom does not stay around to teach me anything, I’m super smart I know how to do it right out of the egg.
    3. I am pretty long for a baby snake. Out of the egg I am already about a foot long! When I grow up, I will be close to 4 feet long! I can’t wait to grow up and be big and strong.
  4. What are you thankful for?
    1. I am thankful for Ricky in the maintenance department. He helped save my life and found me a new home in the Nature Center.

Terrible Two's

Species: American Alligator (Alligator Mississippiensis)
Name: Buddy (Unofficially) - My mom calls me Buddy, but I am not a pet like Spot is! I am a wild animal in captivity. Do not let my tiny exterior confuse you, I am fierce on the inside and would not hesitate to bite you! My Mom has special training to handle me, and you should never try to approach an alligator in the wild.
Age: 2 years old

  1. What is your favorite food?
    1. My favorite food are frozen mice. It might seem gross, but my food has to be whole for me to get the nutrients I need. Otherwise, I won’t have enough calcium and other vitamins and minerals in my diet to grow up big and strong. 
  2. What do you love about Ocean Lakes Family Campground?
    1. I like having my own space and I am safe from large predators. Winter is my favorite time because no one is around to disturb me. I prefer the solitary life. I just do not understand how Spot loves the spotlight so much!
  3. What are three fun facts about you?
    1. When I grow up, I will be anywhere from 8-12 ft. long. At that point, I can eat a lot more than small mice! Do not try to feed me or my alligator friends in the wild though, it is illegal and threatens my life. 
    2. I can be found in the wild across the Southeastern United States and I am the state reptile in Florida, Louisiana, and Mississippi. Pretty cool to be the popular guy!
    3. I am on loan from Alligator Adventure in North Myrtle Beach, I will go back there once I am 3 ft. long. I am 29 inches right now. When I go back some more of my friends will come live at Ocean Lakes.
  4. What are you thankful for?
    1. I am thankful for a full belly and plenty more mice to eat. I hope all of our guests at Ocean Lakes have nice full bellies this Thanksgiving and enjoy time with their friends and families.

Toddler Two Cents
Species: Leopard Gecko (Eublepharis Macularius)
Name: Spot
Age: 4 years old
  1. What is your favorite food?
    1. Mmm... Mealworms, they are like chocolate to me, but my Mom says they will make me fat, so I have to eat my Crickets, too. 
  2. What do you love about Ocean Lakes Family Campground?
    1. I love Kids Kamp!! Once a week I get to be a part of the fun and meet all sorts of cool kids. I do not know why Buddy does not like Kids Kamp - They are the best. They pet you, they take turns telling you about their pets, and we get to learn about Leopard Geckos together! It is so much fun! 
  3. What are three fun facts about you?
    1. I love to sleep during the day, so you will not always see me at first glance, but if you peek into my cave, I will be in there taking a nap.
    2. I can live to be 20 years old! I am a long-term commitment as a pet and cannot survive alone in the wild!
    3. I am adopted. My Mom teamed up with Petco, and rescued me from a bad home. They did not like to feed me or play with me, but now I have a good home in Ocean Lakes! 
  4. What are you thankful for?
    1. I am thankful for Ocean Lakes Family Campground and the Nature Center. They rescued me when I did not think I would find a new home, and now I could not be happier!

Until Next Time

Next time you are in the campground, be sure to stop by the Nature Center. Say hello to our animals, get to know them, and learn all about their species. 

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