Creature Feature: Cobra Caroline

Caroline Seitz

Director/Founder of Reptiles Alive LLC

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Reptiles Alive Name: Cobra Caroline (aka The Reptile Lady)

Hisstory: Cobra Caroline performed her first live reptile show in public when she was 9 years old.  She continued presenting wildlife education programs through high school and college and then worked a few years at various zoos and nature centers.  In 1996, she founded “The Reptile Lady” which would soon become “Reptiles Alive LLC.”

RA Diet: Favorite lunch time items for Cobra Caroline include banh mi sandwiches, BLT’s with homegrown tomatoes, and anything her mom cooks for  her.

Natural Diet: Cobra Caroline is an opportunistic omnivore.  She will eat both plants and animals, including seafood.  Her diet is variable depending on the seasons.  Winter  foods may include slow cooked soups and stews,  where as summer fare typically includes vegetables grown in her garden and fish and crabs from the Chesapeake Bay.

Range: Although Cobra Caroline was born in Arlington and has lived her whole life in northern Virginia, she spends much of her time traveling, especially to Reno, NV where her father lives.  She also has had special opportunities to spend time on the Big Island of Hawaii where her brother lives and works as a sea turtle biologist.

Habitat: You could find Cobra Caroline in many different habitats.  If you are on the road, look for driving the reptile van to a show.  You might see her performing a show at a school, library, festival, or other venue.  She manages the office, so she spends a lot of time on the phone and on the computer.  And she supervises the animal collection, so she spends time monitoring the health and care of the animals here.  WHEW – she is everywhere!

Size: Don’t be fooled by Cobra Caroline’s size.  At 5 feet tall, she is more than capable of handling a giant python, capturing a crocodile, or carrying a heavy tortoise.

Lifespan: Cobra Caroline could live to 80 years or more.

Reproduction: Cobra Caroline has successfully raised many plants and vegetables into a beautiful home garden.

Conservation: Since she was 4 years old, Cobra Caroline has dedicated her life to teaching other people how important snakes and other animals are to our environment. She spent her childhood learning about nature by reading books, writing in her nature journal, and spending copious amounts of time in the swamp near her house searching for snakes, frogs, insects and other creatures.  She started volunteering at nature centers and zoos as a teenager and became a Virginia Licensed Wildlife Rehabilitator when she was 18.  Wildlife conservation IS Caroline’s life.

Cool Facts: After graduating from George Mason University with a B.A. in Speech Communication, Cobra Caroline spent some years working a variety of fun jobs.  She worked as a park naturalist at Hidden Pond Nature Center;  a park ranger Mason Neck State Park where she lead canoe trips into bald eagle habitats and a wildlife educator at a zoo where she performed shows with monkeys, kinkajous, exotic birds, and other animals.  One of her strangest jobs was working for an animal removal company as a “Snake Removal Technician.”  This involved spending hours crawling through dirty and sometimes scary crawlspaces and attics searching for snakes and inspecting the facility to figure out how to stop them from getting in.

Cobra Caroline feels lucky every day – as the director of Reptiles Alive, she gets to “work” at job she loves.  She can’t imagine doing anything else.

Reptiles Alive! After School Enrichment Program

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Snakes, scales, and lizard tails are just a few of the things we are learning about in the Reptiles Alive After School Enrichment Program.

Students love attending our hands-on live animal after school program.  During each class, a professional Reptiles Alive wildlife educator introduces students to different live animals including slimy amphibians, spiky iguanas, grinning alligators, creepy crawlies, laughing lizards and more.  Interesting artifacts such as skeletons, antlers, eggs, and skins are also included in many of the programs.  Story-telling, arts & craft activities, and fun experiments combined with live exotic animals, make this a very popular program.

Activities during our classes include safely touching live snakes, turtles, and lizards and handling skulls, bones, skins and other natural artifacts.  We might: search for animals in a population survey; slip in slime to discover the properties of frog mucus; help train a couple of animals; measure the world’s biggest snake; find out what it’s like to be a zoo keeper; start a nature journal; and more!

Our after school classes are great for grades k-3 or 3-6.  We have a maximum of 19 students allowed so that each student gets an up close and personal experience.  Schools and PTA’s are booking for the current school year now.  If you are interested in bringing this wildly exciting class to your school this year, please give us a call at 703 560-0257 or send us an email at reptilesalive@gmail.com.

Fall Changes at Reptiles Alive

Fall is always an exciting time at Reptiles Alive.

We all feel a sense of relief and accomplishment that we have made it through another super busy summer.  We presented approximately 500 shows in June, July & August at libraries, festivals, and tons of summer camps.  Whew!  It is always nice to get the break in September to re-group and get ready for the school year.

The emails and phone calls from PTA representatives and teachers begin flooding into our office as the new school year gets started.  Assemblies, classroom visits, and family fun nights are all being scheduled now, so our office staff works hard to keep up with all the bookings.  If you are interested in booking a program for your school give us a call at 703 560-0257 or send us an email at reptilesalive@gmail.com.  You can find out all about our programs for schools on our Schools Page.

Although we may not be quite as busy doing weekday shows in September as in other months, our weekends are always booked solid for us with all the fall festivals and birthday party shows and we do a lot of scout programs in the evening. You can check out which festivals we will be at on our Public Events Calendar.

More fall changes at Reptiles Alive include a new school assembly show called “Wetlands Alive!”, a new Honduran milk snake that has not yet been named, and a new assistant Animal Keeper we just hired – Amaya Perez.  Look for more information about the new show, animal, and keeper in future blog posts.

Happy Fall Everybody!!

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Creature Feature: Blue Tongue Skink

Blue Tongue Skink

Tiliqua scincoides

Reptiles Alive Name: “Mystique & Tiliqua”bluetongueout12

Hissstory: Mystique was an unwanted pet that was sent to us in 1997.  Tiliqua was sent to us by Alexandria Animal Control in 2003 after she was  found as a stray – either a lost or abandoned pet.

RA Diet: We feed our blue tongues: greens, fruits, vegetables, crickets, super worms, roaches and dead mice.

Natural Diet: Fruits, flowers, insects, carrion, fungi, and invertebrates; especially snails.

Range: Australia.

Habitat: Semi-arid savannas, woodlands, tropical jungles, and urban backyards.

Size: Blue tongue skinks are some of the largest members of the skink family.  They can grow to 23 inches long.

Lifespan: Blue tongues can live over 20 years.

Reproduction: Most lizards lay eggs – but not blue tongue skinks.  Females give birth to about 10 live young. The baby lizards are on their own the moment they are born.

Conservation: While once widespread, they are becoming more rare in certain parts of their range due to human related activities:  dogs, cats, lawnmowers and busy roads.

Cool Facts: When confronted by a predator, blue tongue skinks open their mouths, stick out their blue tongue and hiss loudly.   This display is usually enough to scare off their enemy.