Fort Walton Beach, Florida: Reptile House

This cozy den of slithering, hissing reptiles is way out in the piney woods.

Camp Rudder

Address:
Grand Camp Terrace, Fort Walton Beach, FL
Directions:
From Fort Walton Beach north on Hwy 189/Lewis Turner Blvd. About two miles north of the golf course, turn left (north) onto Ranger Camp Rd. Follow Ranger Camp Rd for about 7 miles until it ends at a 4-way stop sign. Turn left for another 5 miles and you will be at a 3-way stop sign. Turn right for about 2 miles and take the first left after entering Camp Rudder (US Army Ranger Camp). Look for a red brick building on the left side. Park in the grass.
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Reptile House

For anyone in the area of Ft. Walton Beach in the Northwestern Panhandle of Florida there is a little know gem of an attraction simply called the Reptile House. To get there, turn onto Ranger Camp Road off of Lewis Turner Pkwy. Follow Ranger Camp Road for about 7 miles until it ends at a four way stop sign. Then turn left for about another 5 miles and you will be at a three way stop sign this time. Turn right for about 2 miles or so and you will take the first left turn after entering the Camp Rudder (US Army Ranger Camp) Note: there is nothing but pine trees to see during the drive to out there. The building is not externally marked but look for a red brick building on the left side. Simply pull over and park in the grass.

What you will see inside is a motley collection of hundreds and hundreds of snakes in a very "low budget" environment. You will walk around the inside walls and the snakes are never more than 3' from you at any time. They are behind plexiglass that is quite thin and when the Eastern Rattlesnakes strike you can actually hear the plexiglass move within it's mounts.

Outside in a concrete pool you will find "Big Jake", a 19' alligator along with several smaller ones that don't appear to do much of anything.

[Mark Smith, 01/02/1999]

"Big Jake" is reported to have died in 2001.

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October 21, 2014

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