Liberty’s Raptor and Reptile Centre
Liberty’s Raptor and Reptile Centre is located just outside of the New Forest National Park boundary, on the western side very close to the popular market town of Ringwood.
The centre is named after one of its biggest raptors, Liberty the American bald eagle (above, left). Liberty is kept company by a large collection of other birds of prey (raptors) and owls from all over the world.
Although not particularly large, Liberty’s Raptor and Reptile Centre puts on several talks and flying displays each day, spread throughout the day, so your visit will more than likely take in one of these at some point.
The flying displays are impressive if you’ve never seen one before, and demonstrate the amazing hunting abilities of certain birds of prey. In fact, falconry, as the skill is known, is a tradition that dates back many centuries in the New Forest, to the time when the area was a royal hunting ground.
In addition to the standard falconry displays, the centre also offers full day ‘Flying Experience Days‘ where you can try the skill first hand. This is a great opportunity for anyone interested in learning to fly birds of prey and owls.
While the majority of the birds at Liberty’s are caged, many of the raptors are perched on tree stumps in an open-air grassed area. These are the birds that are regularly flown at the flying field, and they are not at all phased by being on such open display.
The smooth snake is Britain’s rarest and most elusive snake, similar in size and appearance to the adder, Britain’s only venomous reptile. Both smooth snakes and sand lizards inhabit the open heathlands of the New Forest.
As well as the snakes and lizards, the New Forest Reptile Centre is also home to common frogs, Natterjack toads, 3 species of newt and slow worms.
Away from the reptile pens there is a grassy picnic area and a 1 1/2 mile walk, aptly named The Reptile Trail, through the Ancient and Ornamental Woodland of the area – keep your eyes peeled, and you might just see some wild reptiles along the walk!
There is also a short way-marked cycle route that connects the reptile centre to the Emery Down-Bolderwood road.
A visit to Liberty’s Raptor and Reptile Centre would last around an hour or so if you didn’t stay to see any of the displays, but these are well worth waiting for.
But if you have timed it badly, the on site cafe is always there offering a good reason to wait for the next show, or you can browse the well stocked gift shop at the centre entrance.
Liberty's Raptor and Reptile Centre Visitor Information
- 10am – 5pm March to October
- 10am – 4pm Weekends only from November-February
- Adults £8.95
- Children 5-15yrs £5.95
- Family (2+2) £27.50
- Senior citizens £7.95
GPS / SatNav information:
Lat/long: 50.836,-1.771. OS grid ref: SU162042