By Alex Matthews
A reptile mad has spent £30,000 rescuing crocodiles and other reptiles – enough to stop him buying a house with his fiancée.
Jordan Woodhead has spent the past seven years saving the stranded creatures and collecting more.
His parent’s back garden in Scarborough, North Yorks, is now home to over 40 reptiles, including five crocodiles, and more than 200 animals have moved through his makeshift rescue shelter.
He has built two sheds and a special enclosure to house all the beasts, and is about to finish building two more as the crocs grow.
With the food, heating and electricity bills, building costs for enclosures and tanks and he has spent well over £30,000 on his hobby.
Despite the money being enough to buy a house with or even marry cheerleader fiancée Jess, he says he would not change a thing to look after the animals.
Jordan, 23, said: “It’s a very obscure hobby. I don’t know of many other people with crocodiles in their back garden.
“But I really love these animals and I want to help as many of them as I can.
“I take in unwanted, mistreated and injured reptiles from all over the country. They have sometimes been confiscated, or have outgrown their old homes or been released into the wild.
“I currently keep five crocodiles and alligators, all in a specially built enclosure, and over 40 other reptiles. Some large and aggressive animals are staying with me permanently, and others I find new homes for when they are fit and healthy.
“In the seven years I have been taking in unwanted reptiles, I have looked after and found a home for over 200.
“I’ve definitely spent £30,000 or more. I was discussing it with my mum and she said, ‘You realise you could have had your own house?’
“It also makes it really hard to go on holiday. I can’t really just head off for a night or two as there is no one else to look after the reptiles.
“But I’d much rather have it this way.”
Jordan works a second job in his spare time to help fund his expensive hobby.
But despite all of the money, time and space in his parents’ garden he has poured into the project, he says he has no plans to slow down.
Also, despite not sharing his obsession for reptiles, he claims his fiancée Jess is completely supportive of what he does.
Jordan said: “Jess is extremely supportive of what I do. We met at the zoo where I work so she understands how important animals and doing what I do are to me.
“I’m really lucky that she puts up with me working extremely long hours but she always gives me support.
“Day to day it’s a case of checking temperatures, cleaning out and maintaining filters and enclosures. I get up between 4am and 5am everyday to get everything done before work. Typically there is around three hours work on average.
“She works very hard at her cheerleading and she founded Scarborough’s only competitive team, so she understands what it’s like.”
Jordan’s love of reptiles was sparked by a fascination with dinosaurs when he was younger.
He got his first animal, a bearded dragon, when he was just 10 years old and his interest in keeping them grew.
Six years later he decided to use his experience to help look after and rehome reptiles that people could no longer look after.
His love of animals has also spilled over into his day job. He works ten hours a day looking after penguins, sea turtles, otters and sharks as a keeper at Sea Life Scarborough.
Jordan said: “I have loved reptiles for as long as I can remember. My fascination definitely started with dinosaurs, and then when I realised the similarities between them and crocodiles, my interest in reptiles grew.
“I started off with just a few tanks but seven years ago started to take in more and more reptiles. I have now built two large sheds full of reptiles, as well as an enclosure
“I love working at the Sea Life centre. It’s an amazing job.
“Building the most recent enclosures has been four months of tough, hard labour before and after work. But they look very impressive and it will be worth it when they are completed.”
He plans to expand his hobby and turn his garden operation into a display for the public.
Jordan said: “In future I aim to build a permanent, public display of reptiles so I can continue doing what I do on a larger scale.
“I am also building a small, privately facility to breed critically endangered species of crocodiles with the future aim of increasing wild populations.
“One of the species I currently have and intend to breed is the critically endangered Siamese crocodile. There are less than 300 individuals of this species left in the wild.