Arthropods are invertebrate animals with an exoskeleton, segmented body, and jointed appendages. Commonly referred to as bugs, Reptile Gardens displays a large collection of arthropods, including:

Chelicerates:  includes spiders, mites, and scorpions. Chelicerae are appendages near the mouth – such as the claws on a scorpion or fangs on a spider.

Myriapods:  includes millipedes, centipedes. They have many body sections, with at least one pair of legs per section.

Hexapods:  includes all insects, such as cockroaches, bees, crickets, and ants. All hexapods have three pairs of legs.

While many guests tend to shut their eyes and hurry past the bugs at Reptile Gardens, these tiny creatures are incredibly interesting. Slow down to get a closer look at some unique – and some dangerous – animals.


Found in nearly every habitat, including on the ground, trees, rocks, or sand, scorpions have eight legs, a pair of claws, a segmented tail, and a deadly reputation.  Of the 1,400 species identified, only about 25 have venom strong enough to kill a human, like the Bark Scorpion.  Stings from the Bark Scorpion can be deadly to humans, but usually are not. Although they use their venom to kill or stun their prey, most scorpions feed on small insects.  The Emperor Scorpion, for example, prefers to feed on termites, crickets, and mealworms.


Spiders have four pairs of legs, four pairs of eyes and, unlike other arthropods, a segmented body fused into two sections. Spinnerets on the spider’s abdomen emit silk, which is used to spin webs to catch prey. Spiders also use their silk as protection for their eggs, to build nests, and sometimes as a safety rope.

There are more than 40,000 known species of spiders in the world. While all spiders have fangs that inject venom, only some are harmful to humans, including the lethal Black Widow Spider.

Some of the largest spiders, tarantulas, also have a fearsome reputation. However, most tarantulas are not lethal to humans. While some tarantulas bite as defense mechanism, others can use the hair covering their abdomens for defense. For example, the Mexican Red-Kneed Tarantula can ward off predators by shooting special barbed hairs, called urticating hairs, at attackers.


Cockroaches have wide, flat bodies and small heads, with long antennae. Often thought of as pests by humans, cockroaches are some of the hardiest insects in the world. They may give off a foul odor after feeding, and some, like the Madagascar Hissing Cockroach, make a loud hissing noise by pushing air through the breathing pores on their bodies.

Want to see our collection of creepy crawlies and BIG BUGS?  Check out the lower level of the Sky Dome to see all of our amphibians, spiders, scorpions, cockroaches, and of course Maniac, the giant crocodile. 




Things To Do

Main Exhibits




Animal Facts



Native to South Dakota


Botanical Gardens


About Us

Privacy Policy

Sky Dome

Step inside the Sky Dome to experience a warm tropical climate while exploring our indoor jungle filled with exotic and unique flora and fauna. 

Rattlesnake Gulch Funtier Town

Try your hand at gemstone sluicing, go on a 3D safari, or test your aim at the shooting gallery! Our very own old west ghost town has numerous photo opportunities and activities to keep the kids entertained.

Cheyenne's Habitat

Cheyenne the bald eagle has been a permanent resident of Reptile Gardens for 11 years with permission of the US Fish & Wildlife Service.

Maniac's habitat

Maniac is our resident giant saltwater crocodile. At over 16 feet long and1,350pounds, he is one of the largest giant crocodiles in the western hemisphere. If you don't see him at his enclosure inside the SkyDome, make sure to check outside!

Prairie Dog Town

Get down to eye-level with these fuzzy little animals and see firsthand what life is like in a typical prairie dog town!

Methuselah's Playground

Methuselah was a giant Galapagos Tortoise weighing in at over 600 pounds, and a long time resident of Reptile Gardens. His memory lives on at this playground featuring a bronze statue of Methuselah himself. 

Snake Show stage

Get up-close-and-personal with our snake ambassadors in this family-friendly snake handling show.

Gator Show stage

Dozens of Alligators, Crocodiles, and Caimans and one keeper...what could go wrong? Separate fact from fiction in this educational, family-friendly show and get a chance to pet Fluffy, our baby gator!

Bird Show stage

Interact with birds from around the world at the Bird Show, where they love to show off their beauty and intelligence. 

Gift Shop

Carrying a wide variety of Reptile Gardens souvenirs as well as educational books for every age and a variety of stunning rocks, minerals, and fossils from all over the world.

Green Parrot Cafe

Hungry? Refuel with buffalo burgers, The Maniac burger, Black Mamba Shakes, Indian Tacos, and more!

Giant Tortoise

Don't miss this photo opportunity! Get up-close and personal with these friendly giants who love to have their neck scratched and are great with kids. 

Tortuga Falls

Take a stroll through this meditative garden, gaze into our turtle and koi pond, listen to the waterfalls, and don't miss Darwin the Kookaburra! 

Walking Garden

We're about more than just Reptiles! Our outdoor gardens are beauty to be seen as they change throughout the season and year after year. 

Living Wall

This vertical garden is a wall of color that grows and changes through the Summer season creating striking patterns and unique portraits as it grows. 

Pet A Python

At the end of every snake show, you will get the opportunity to pet a python and chat with our knowledgeable show presenters. Don't forget your camera!