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Studely Grange, near Swindon

Discussion in 'United Kingdom' started by RowanGreen, 4 Dec 2010.

  1. RowanGreen

    RowanGreen Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    19 Sep 2010
    Posts:
    186
    Location:
    London, England
    Thought I'd include details of this place since it doesn't seem to be on the list... they have a small collection of reptiles, domestics, meerkats and otters on display.

    I visited a few days ago, along with an elderly relative who can't be exposed to the present very cold conditions. It turned out to be a good choice for that!

    Though advertised as a 'Craft Village and Butterfly World' there's actually a lot more. There's two large pet shops in separate buildings: one for wild bird feed and small pets (including some live rats, guineas etc for sale) and another for cats, dogs and horses.

    The main covered area includes a huge garden centre which also sells gifts, books and more. We returned with quiet a few edible treats for Christmas! Walking through further back from the entrance there's a nice restaurant where we had lunch (homemade fish and chips, quiche and cakes) and an aquarist shop. This shop is huge and stocks a big range of pond fish, gold fish and tropical fish and the tanks, ponds, pumps, food etc to go with them. I didn't spot any marine fish, but it's an impressive collection otherwise.

    Walking on brings you to the craft village: All under cover, a square of shops around an impressive kids adventure play area.

    Beyond that is the entrance to the pay-to-get-in section of Butterfly World. From the entrance (with Butterfly World gift shop) you walk straight into the main butterfly flight. Being perishingly cold outside we weren't expecting masses of butterflies, but there were a fair number. It's nicely landscaped with pools, bridges and places to sit. The pools contain koi carp, and there's also food you can buy to feed them with... we did (you get a small handful for 20p) which resulted in a feeding frenzy! Delicate relative sat down in here while we explored further...

    Next up is a room with a small collection of reptiles and spiders. Nothing special really I think. Then there's a covered area that looks like it's being developed. It does include an avairy (canaries and quail) and runs for guinea pigs and rabbits. A door leads to the outside paddocks, which includes short clawed otter, meerkats, chipmunks, goats, ducks, golden pheasant and turkeys. I think I've missed some out but I admit we didn't linger long... it was afternoon and sets of footprints in the snow must have been in single figures!

    The otters had a nice looking enclosure though their pool/stream was totally frozen over! It looked like they had some kind of hutch hidden at the back for shelter. They were active running around as a little troupe.

    The meerkats also had a large outside run (which I didn't spend long looking at). One came out briefly to look at us before going back in: their inside hut had a glass window through which we could see them making use of a heat lamp! A member of staff came by briefly and told us they had 4 young, but they were out of sight.

    Again it was possible to buy food from dispensors for the domestics. There were signs saying not to feed the otters and meerkats, but from the interest they showed us I suspect they sometimes got fed by visitors.

    Back inside I found the easily-missed butterfly nursery. Not a lot happening: I did find one caterpillar and 3 pupae, one of which had just hatched: one very crumpled butterly! I didn't wait for it to unfurl. On the way out we also spotted the iguana in the main butterfly flight: she was in aquarium but it was open at one end so I presume she could go out if she wished (she is advertised as free ranging and according to the sign is usually found on a particular rock...)

    Oh yes, there's a second snack bar / restaurant attached to the craft village. And I noticed that guineas, rabbits and ducks were separated into male and female runs next to each other, which seems a bit mean to me!

    In summary: I'm not sure the butterfly world/ animal collection is worth a visit in itself, unless it's summer and you are into butterflies. And allowing folks to feed the animals is a bit dodgy. But as a whole it was a great under cover family day out (especially if you like garden centres and craft shops...), and they do seem to have ambitions of developing as a small zoo.

    Tuesdays and Wednesdays admission to butterfly world includes a hot drink after for pensioners. We needed to remind the guy on the desk though!

    Family Days out Wiltshire Swindon | Butterfly World Craft Village M4 Junction 16
     
  2. Shorts

    Shorts Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    29 Apr 2009
    Posts:
    1,855
    Location:
    Behind You! (to the left)
    Thanks for the review Rowan, it's always useful to know about places like these.

    I class them as methodone for "real zoos" and if I know of places like these I'll sometimes nip in for a "zoo-fix" travelling around on "non-zoo days or journeys".

    One of my favourites is Wharf Aquatics in Notts which has a truly fantastic selection of fish and a nice selection of herps in it's Wharf Reptiles sister-shop at the same venue. In the past I have seen Electric Eels, Freshwater Rays, Seahorses, Softshell Turtles, Rhinoceros Iguana, Dwarf Caiman, Bismarck Python and Snapping Turtles. There's also a few reptile shops around the country that are worth a quick nip round if you're in the vacinity (I saw my only Caledonian Gecko, so far, in a Canterbury shop).
     
  3. RowanGreen

    RowanGreen Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    19 Sep 2010
    Posts:
    186
    Location:
    London, England
    Thanks!

    Realised I missed out something that might be worth noting: they have leaf cutter ants.

    Also entry to Butterfly World and the collection is around a fiver.