Blackbutt Reserve's two newest residents are getting ready to teach thousands of visitors about the wonderful world of reptiles.
The olive python siblings will be the centrepiece of Blackbutt's new reptile shows resuming next month following the theft of its former reptile collection in a night-time break-in last year.
Blackbutt Reserve coordinator Brad West said a competition to name one of the new pythons would launch next week on the social media channels of Newcastle City Council and Blackbutt Reserve, with the winners offered a VIP meet-and-greet with the reptiles they name.
He added that it was exciting to see the pythons settling into their new home.
"They are a beautiful species. They're a smooth olive colour but their scales have this iridescent sheen that really sets them apart," he said. "They're also very calm and inquisitive, when raised properly."
The pythons are just over a month old and already measure about 50cm each. By the end of the year, they will likely reach 1m, with a maximum length of more than 3m once fully grown.
"It's good to have juvenile snakes because staff can really build a relationship with them as they grow," Mr West said.
The snakes were kindly donated to Blackbutt by Wild Life Sydney Zoo in Darling Harbour.
Lord Mayor of Newcastle Nuatali Nelmes said the naming contest aimed to find a moniker that conveyed some meaning, either about Blackbutt, Newcastle or the olive python as a species.
"Under the expert care of Blackbutt Reserve staff, these new reptiles will be the centrepiece of our highly popular reptile shows and animal encounters," she said.
The two pythons are set to join a mature female central bearded dragon donated by a private Newcastle reptile keeper, eastern long-necked turtles and various creepy crawlies when Blackbutt's much-loved reptile shows resume in February.
Mr West said a special free preview show would also be offered as part of Blackbutt Reserve's Australia Day celebrations in Richley Reserve on Friday 26 January.
Meanwhile, security measures at Blackbutt Reserve have been enhanced to prevent a repeat of last September's break-in, including heavy gauge window grilles, CCTV cameras and a back-to-base alarm system.
The break-in remains under police investigation.