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Meet the Norfolk alligator set to be a mum at 70

PUBLISHED: 08:44 20 July 2012 | UPDATED: 12:17 20 July 2012

An American Alligator who is nesting at Thrigby Hall Wildlife Gardens.
Picture: James Bass

An American Alligator who is nesting at Thrigby Hall Wildlife Gardens. Picture: James Bass

Archant Norfolk Photographic © 2012

A 70-year-old alligator has stunned staff at a Norfolk wildlife garden by taking a toy boy and laying a clutch of eggs.

Mum-to-be Psycho is keeping such a watchful guard over her eggs at home in Thrigby Hall that keepers have yet to get a good look or determine just how many there are.

But if the surprise union between her and new younger male Albert, 20, from Flamingo Land, North Yorkshire, results in live young it will be a first for the park in all its 33 years.

Owner Ken Sims said: “She arrived here in 1992 from London Zoo where she had been since just after the last war, so she is quite old and took us all by surprise.

“But, if the British summer continues as it is, we will have to take the eggs away and incubate them.

“Normally, they will build a nest of rotting vegetation, but she gave us no warning, otherwise we would have been able to help her and provide her with some materials. They are capable of living as long as humans but rarely do. She is exceptional.

“We thought her egg-laying days were over because, although they remain fertile throughout their lives, they peak at around 20 or 25. The older they get the more they tend to lay, but if she has more than a dozen eggs I shall be pleasantly surprised.”

Psycho has laid eggs once before but they were unfertilised and never hatched. He said the length of incubation was dependent on temperature which also determined the gender of the babies, colder conditions yielding males.

Staff will probably have to wait at least three months for the eggs to hatch, and may have to brave the snapper’s diligent mothering to take them away for incubation.

liz.coates@archant.co.uk

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