Creature Feature: SidewinderStephen


Stephen Maddox

Animal Keeper


Reptiles Alive Name: SidewinderStephen

Hisstory: After spending his childhood roaming the swamps in southeastern Virginia, SidewinderStephen decided to study biology at James Madison University.  After graduation, he relocated to the DC area and started working as an invasive plant control technician.  He applied for the Reptiles Alive Animal Keeper position and was hired to work with us in April 2013.

RA Diet: Dried fruits and whatever else he is able to forage for in his fridge in the morning before work.

Natural Diet: SidewinderStephen’s favorite food is Mexican – especially burritos, MUY DELICIOSO! He also enjoys anything that comes off a grill.

Range: SidewinderStephen grew up in swamp in southeastern Virginia called Poquouson. He then migrated to the mountains of Virginia to attend James Madison University. He now resides in Northern Virginia where he enjoys working with all the cool RA animals.

Habitat: Preferring the Blue Ridge Mountains where it is nice and cool, SidewinderStephen spends much of his time along river banks searching for fish.

Size: SidewinderStephen is 5’10” with an awesome beard that makes him seem even larger!

Lifespan: SidewinderStephen could live to 90 years or more.

Reproduction: At home, SidewinderStephen is currently raising a little leopard gecko named Betty.

Conservation: On the days that SidewinderStephen is not taking care of the RA animals, he can be found in the woods hunting down and removing exotic invasive plant species from our local parks and natural areas. The conservation of nature for future generations is SidewinderStephen’s greatest goal – he wants future generations to be as moved by nature as he was.

Cool Facts: While attending James Madison, SidewinderStephen spent a spring-break vacation taking a class in the Bahamas to study carbonate deposition in coral reef ecosystems. He has also spent time on various rivers, from the calm James River in Virginia to the raging Colorado in the Grand Canyon.



Reptile Job Opening POSITION FILLED

Job Opening:


Animal Keeper

We are looking for a reliable, responsible, and energetic person who is looking to work professionally with reptiles, amphibians, and invertebrates.

Part Time: 20-30 hours per week; mainly Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays

(we can be somewhat flexible with the schedule)

Starting pay is $11 per hour


Duties Will Include:

-Handling reptiles, amphibians, and invertebrates

-Cleaning animal enclosures

-Designing animal enclosures

-Preparing animal food and feeding the animals

-Record keeping

-General cleaning of animal and office areas

Duties May Include:

-Light office work

-Assisting wildlife educators with outreach educational live animal shows at special events in the Mid-Atlantic Region


Applicants must be highly responsible and able to work without supervision caring for a diverse collection that includes potentially dangerous animals.

Ability to lift 50 pounds and work a physically active job for 8 hours

Experience with and knowledge about reptile husbandry is preferred

Successful candidate will have a clean criminal background and driving record check

Please send your cover letter and resume


Creature Feature: Kenyan Sand Boa

Kenyan Sand Boa

Eryx colubrinus loveridgei

Reptiles Alive Name: “Tremors”

Hissstory: A friend of Caroline’s donated Tremors to Reptiles Alive in March of 1997.

RA Diet: Defrosted frozen mice.kenyan_sand_boa

Natural Diet: Sand boas eat small mammals and lizards.  When food is scarce, sand boas may live over a year without any food at all.

Range: Kenyan sand boas are found in Northeast Africa.

Habitat: Sand boas are found in hot, dry deserts.

Size: Sand boas are some of the smallest boa species on Earth.  They typically grow only 1-2 feet long.

Reproduction: Sand boas give live birth to 7-10 young after a gestation period of about four months.

Lifespan: Sand boas can live over 15 years.  Tremors was born in 1997 – and he is still in great shape!

Cool Facts: The eyes and nostrils of the sand boa are on the top of the head so they can breath and search the surface for prey while the rest of their body lies hidden beneath the sand.

Creature Feature: Giant Madagascar Hognose Snake

Giant Madagascar Hognose Snake

Leioheterodon madagascariensis


Reptiles Alive Name: “Mr. Leo Heterodon”

Hissstory: Mr. Leo was a pet in Chincoteague, VA until his owner did not want him anymore.  He was sent to a reptile rescue group in western Virginia where, in 2002, we adopted him.

RA Diet: Mr. Leo loves to dine on frozen and then defrosted medium to large sized rats.  Delicioussssssssssss!

Natural Diet: Madagascar hognose  snakes in the wild will eat small mammals, amphibians, and possibly small birds.

Range: Madagascar

Habitat: Madagascar hognose snakes are found in mountain forests at low altitudes, coastal areas, and grasslands often near water and human habitation.  They spend most of their time hiding in shallow burrows or rocky crevices.

Size: Madagascar hognose snakes can grow over 5 feet long and are very heavy-bodied.

Life Span: Madagascar hognose snakes can live over 20 years.

Reproduction: The females snakes lay 6-12 eggs.  The young hatch in 60-80 days and are about 12 inches long.

Conservation: Habitat loss is a major threat to most animals found in Madagascar.

Cool Facts: Giant Madagascar hognose snakes are opistoglyphous, which means they have fangs in the back of their mouth.  Their mild venom is not dangerous to humans, but it helps them catch their prey.  When Madagascar hognose snakes are threatened, they hiss loudly and can flatten their neck – like a cobra!

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We had a great experience with Reptiles Alive for my daughter’s 6th birthday party. Rachel arrived exactly on time, set up quickly, and immediately engaged the group of curious children. We had an impromptu dance party while waiting for last minute guests and Rachel was very accommodating. The children LOVED the show!! And my soon-to-be 11 year old wants them to come for his birthday! I highly recommend Reptiles Alive for your next event!read more

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We just had Reptiles Alive come to our preschool and the kids loved it!! We had 4 shows over 2 days to accommodate all our children and everything went great! Caroline was very easy to work with and quick to respond to all my emails. She was our presenter too and was early each day and ready to go when the kids arrived. She really geared her show towards our audience (2-5yr olds) and had them laughing and answering her questions and touching the animals. It was perfect… we would definitely book them again!!read more

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We booked Reptiles Alive for our son’s 7th birthday party. Miss Rachel put on an amazing show for the 20 kids we had over. The highlight was when my son and I had the chance to hold a long and surprisingly heavy boa constrictor named Sunflower. The show was both educational and fun for the kids, and it kept them captivated for a full hour – priceless!!read more

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Rachel is an awesome instructor and very good with many kids. The reptiles were fascinating. This was a great birthday party for my daughter and her second grade more

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We invited Reptiles Alive for our birthday party. Ms. Rachel did a wonderful job to educate the kids about the fun facts of Reptiles and also kept them entertained and focused. It’s not a easy job facing a bunch of 7-year-old boys and 3-year-old preschoolers. We highly recommend Reptiles Alive show. It’s fun and full of knowledge!read more

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