On the A141 between Huntingdon and Warboys there is a tiny piece of rainforest, where three metre crocodiles can be found basking by tropical waters! Johnsons of Old Hurst have recently opened their new crocodile house...
It has a platform at first floor level so that visitors can observe the crocs from above without coming near their fearsome teeth! There are also enclosures containing other extraordinary creatures on the platform, with iguanas, snakes and smaller crocodiles. In total the croc house contains three species of tortoise, two species of turtles, three species of snakes, two of lizards and a total of 15 crocodiles of five different species of the genus crocodylus.
Fifteen years ago the Johnson family learnt that crocodiles are very efficient consumers of animal remains that would not be used for human consumption and would go to waste. Only 2% of what a croc eats is expelled as dung. These are very efficient digesters! With the number of crocs on the farm increasing, the new specialised crocodile house was built. Help and advice with the crocs has come from conservationist Ken Sims who is an honorary fellow of the Zoological Society of London, and medical assistance for the reptiles comes from a zoo vet in Newmarket. Andy Johnson explained that crocs can be bred in captivity and then released into the wild, unlike animals like lions and tigers which don’t do well in the wild after being raised in captivity. The Siamese crocodiles are a case in point, they were believed to be extinct in the wild until recently but three of them are doing very nicely thank you at Johnsons Farm! The Siamese crocodiles in the wild will increase in numbers as their habitat is restored. Andy and his family are passionate about helping to protect and preserve croc numbers. Just this week one of the Nile crocs laid 24 eggs.
If you would like to visit Princess the alligator and Romeo, Cuddles and Sherbet the Nile crocodiles, the croc house is open from 10.30 until 6 pm. (4 pm on a Sunday. Closed on Mondays.) There is no entry cost at Johnsons, and there are many other animals on the farm including deer, cattle, rabbits (huge ones!), peacocks, parrots, donkeys and ostriches. The site also has a kiddies playground complete with castle, mound and tunnel and a woodland walk with animal statues to find. Whilst there you can have refreshments at the Tea Rooms and Steak House and shop for local produce at the Farm Shop and Butchers.
Church Farm, Oldhurst, Huntingdon PE283AF Telephone: 01487 824658