S.O.S: Save our Snakes (from landscape netting)

Every year we get calls from gardeners about snakes trapped in their soft plastic landscape netting.  Landscape netting is often used to protect fruit and vegetables from nibbling deer, birds, and rabbits.  Unfortunately, it can be a death sentence to snakes, birds, and small mammals.

tony-copperhead-225x300

Tony carefully restraining the first Copperhead while his coworker cuts away the netting

Small animals become trapped in the net and as they struggle to free themselves,  get even more tangled up.  The netting not only traps the poor animals, it also causes very serious injuries due to the thin plastic cutting into their skin and muscle.

If a human does not intervene, it is a long, slow and sad death for any trapped creature. Some animals are lucky – they are found and rescued.  Recently our very own TuataraTony was called upon to rescue two copperhead snakes that had become entangled in landscape netting in a garden in Great Falls VA.

tony-holding-copperhead-300x225

Tony (right) and his coworker helping to free the second trapped Copperhead Snake

Tony and other professional Naturalists, Wildlife Educators and Animal Rehabilitators are experts at handling all sorts of animals.  If you find a creature in need of rescue, contact your local animal control agency for help.

Alternatives for protecting crops do exist: Fences 8 feet tall or taller will protect areas from deer.  Using chicken wire, wire mesh, kennel fencing, or snow fencing attached to fence posts will protect against most animals, including rabbits.

If deer are your main problem, you might also consider an electric fence. Motion sensors that trigger a blast of water can scare off birds and other wildlife from fruit trees and bushes. And a good old fashioned scarecrow (especially if it has bright, shiny, moving parts) is always a festive addition to any garden.

Here are some great links for more suggestions on how to save your garden without hurting snakes or other wildlife:

15th Anniversery of Reptiles Alive! A Look Back…

Wildly Exciting.

That is how I describe the last 15 years.

In July 1996 I signed the documents and secured the permits and licenses to officially create a business that was then known as “The Reptile Lady.”

I had been working 3 separate jobs the past year, all at the same time:  park naturalist; zoo educator;  and snake removal technician.  And I was performing live reptile shows at schools, birthdays and other events on the side using non-releasable reptiles I received working as a wildlife rehabilitator.  WHEW!  That was a lot of work!

Since I was so into snakes and reptiles,  people starting calling me “the reptile lady.” In July, I decided to make it official.

I quit my three other jobs to focus exclusively on being “The Reptile Lady” full time.

At first,  I was a one person company.  I had a collection of about 20 animals including a boa constrictor named Franki Valli, a savanna monitor named Dion, and a tokay gecko named Freddie Boom Boom Cannon.  I had all the animals set up in a room that a friend helped me to remodel to accommodate the small zoo.  I spent every day answering the phone, caring for the animals, and performing the shows.

“The Reptile Lady” quickly became a very popular show.  In 1996 I performed 152 shows and reached approximately 4000 people.  I almost doubled that number 1997:  I did 267 shows and reached approximately 15, 550 people.   By 1998, it became obvious that I needed help to keep the business growing – I was now doing over 350 shows per year, caring for 30 exotic animals, and doing all of the office work.  It was tons of fun – but in order to grow, I had to hire some good people.

Since I was going to hire staff people, (and some of those people might be males who might not want to answer the phone by saying “Reptile Lady”) I decided to rename the business “Reptiles Alive! LLC”.

Next, I relocated the animals and business into a larger location that had lots of room for spacious animal enclosures, a nice cleaning area, storage, and office space.  I also built an out door tortoise enclosure.

And then the big step:  I hired the first two employees:  Jeff Streicher and Jennifer Pullen (now Rafter).  I was so lucky to have them!  Jeff and Jennifer proved to be just as dedicated to reptiles and wildlife education as I was.

Over the last 15 years, I have had the pleasure of working with many other great people.  Some of our former staff people are now working as field biologists, scientists, and one of our former keepers is now the Senior Keeper at the National Zoo Reptile Discovery Center.

We currently have a team of top notch wildlife educators and animal keeper.  They perform over 800 shows a year for an average of 60,000 people.  In addition, they care for a collection of approximately 60 animals including pythons, boas, alligators, monitor lizards and other amazing creatures.  And last but not least, the staff at RA also get to help with the glamorous work in our office.

Without our awesome staff and our awesome fans, Reptiles Alive would not be where we are today.  Thank you ALL!  And here’s to another sssspectacular 15 years of wildly exciting live animal shows with Reptiles Alive!

Ssssee you in 2026!