When one transitions into retirement, typically it’s to enjoy relaxation time. Not so for Washington County resident Chris Ellis. After a career as a Florida Highway patrolman, Ellis took a leap of faith and made an unusual second career choice – raising alligators.
For the last 20 years, Ellis’ Orange Hill Gator Farm has been raising alligators for exhibition across the Panhandle for locations such as Gulf World, Zoo World, and Alvin’s Island. With up to a few hundred gators at a time, the farm has a variety of the fascinating reptiles in different life stages, and it is now open for guided tours.
Growing up in Washington County, Ellis watched the Gene Ragan agriculture show based out of Dothan. Inspired by an episode featuring an Alabama alligator farmer, Ellis decided to learn more. After visiting the farmer, Ellis decided to give it a try.
The farm has a multi-acre breeding pond where 25 female and 4 male adult alligators reside. Once eggs are laid, they are removed, incubated, and the young reside inside a pond filled nursery. Once the alligators reach a certain size, they are ready for outside exhibition. The farm is also home to nuisance alligators removed from urban environments by Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC). Ellis holds a special permit issued by FWC to handle and house the alligators.
A large alligator has never bitten Ellis, however, he has gotten knocked off his feet by a fast moving tail.
Orange Hill Gator Farm is located in the Orange Hill community in Washington County.
Tours include a two-hour informational dialogue about these reptiles, and a children-safe, family-friendly tour of our breeding houses as well as the natural habitats of the American Alligator. Tour prices start at $100 for a family (parents and children) and are held at 9 a.m. each day.
Visitors are encouraged to bring a camera and are also cautioned to wear closed-toe shoes (no sandals please) for safety.
For more information and to make a reservation, please call Chris Ellis at 850-527-1383 or visit their website here.