A Gopher on the Golf Course

There are lots of gophers on the golf courses in northern Nevada, and I’m not talking about the little brown furry rodents that Carl Spackler went to war with in the movie Caddyshack.  Nope, the gophers I’m talking about are long and scaly.  I’m talking Gopher Snakes!

Whenever I visit my Dad at his home in Sparks NV, I  spend time in the surrounding desert searching for snakes and lizards.  The Great Basin desert is a harsh area characterized by very little rain fall, cold winters and hot summers, and it is mostly rocky and covered in sage brush.  Although many people associate deserts with snakes, I usually don’t find very many snakes or lizards besides western fence lizards.  In fact, I am able to find more reptiles in northern Virginia than in northern Nevada.

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So, I was talking with my Dad and some of his golfing buddies and they started telling me about the snakes they see on the golf course.  They described seeing many gopher snakes sunning on the greens and in the rough.  My Dad offered to take me snake hunting on the golf course he is a member of — I was excited!

The weather in Sparks can be unpredictable — to say the least.  In June, it can be 90 one day and then snow the next day!  The day we set off on our golf course snake safari it was about 80 — but the wind was blowing down from the snowy Sierras at about 30 miles per hour.  I wasn’t sure if the snakes would be out in wind like that.

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Snow on Mt Rose, NV in June

 

Dad received permission from the course manager to take me on a “tour” of the course.  We got on our golf cart and began our adventure!

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The views are spectacular in Nevada — you can see forever.  It was so nice just to be out enjoying our day.  Dad was careful to not to get in any of the golfers’ way and he knew right where the snakes were most likely to be.

Dad was also careful not to hit any fence lizards that were on the cart path.  (Fore! little lizards)

Then we totally lucked out!  Not only did we find a beautiful gopher snake, we found him eating a vole!  (Voles are little furry mammals that Carl Spackler would not approve of.)

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What an awesome day.  And the best part was how appreciative Dad and his friends were of the snakes.  They respected and protected the snakes  from other less herpetologically informed golfers.  Thank you guys!

A Quick Trip to Calvert Cliffs

Aaaaah… Spring!  It was 80 degrees with a stiff breeze when my brother Hawksbill Will and his friend Yuko (who were both visiting from Hawaii) and I headed out for a day trip to Calvert Cliffs State Park.

starting-the-hike-225x300Calvert Cliffs State Park is located in Calvert County, MD along the western shore of the Chesapeake Bay.  The park features 13 miles of hiking trails, salt and freshwater marshes, a sandy beach, and fossils from ancient marine creatures.

The park also features an abundance of lizards, snakes, turtles, frogs, and salamanders — my kind of place!

It was the first really warm day in almost 2 weeks.  We encountered our first herps in the pond near the parking lot.  Loads of red-bellied slider turtles and eastern painted turtles were basking on logs in the warm sun.  As we hiked further along the trail, we came upon a large freshwater marsh that was filled with even more turtles.  It was like turtle nirvana!

how-many-turtles-300x225In the same marsh, we also saw a few of Maryland’s largest frog species, the American Bullfrog.

bullfrog-263x300We also found a few red-backed salamanders and saw five lined skinks and one fence lizard.

cv-and-bay-300x225Once we reached the Bay, we spent some time eating lunch and looking for fossils and sea shells.  The air was very warm, but the water was icy cold.  That did not stop my adventurous brother, though, he dove right in and went for a swim!!!  Burrrr!

 

A Toadally Awesome Night

Posting by CobraCaroline

Bats, toads and salamanders — oh my!  And don’t forget worms!

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Naturalist Ethan Demontrates Worm Handling Technique

A small group of Reptiles Alive staff and friends, along with budding herpetologist Ethan, set off on an adventure of amphibian proportions last weekend.

Tuatara Tony, who is also a naturalist with Fairfax County,  arranged for us to have access to a western Fairfax, VA park after dark, so we headed out into the woods around 6 pm.  It was a bit cool with temperatures in the mid 50′s.  The largest full moon in years was also set to rise, so we a were unsure of how successful our herp search would be.

As we headed into the darkening woods, young Ethan was delighted and excited with each and every earthworm we discovered.  Ants and small spiders also caught his attention and he was sure to point out to each of us any small invertebrate we failed to mention as we carefully lifted logs and rocks.

We found a few small red-backed salamanders under the logs, but no spotted salamanders which we were hoping for.

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Red-backed Salamander – unstriped or “lead-back” color phase

We found a small vernal pool near the edge of the woods and Ethan saw his first mating pair of toads.

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American Toads

As we headed back into the woods, we followed a small stream that was filled with spotted salamander eggs.  It seemed we were too late to see any of the adults, but just then, Joe called out “Hey guys, I think I’ve found one!”  We rushed over and sure enough it was a big beautiful spottie!

The sun had now set and the woods were getting darker.  We saw a few bats fly over head, along with the low flying jets landing at Dulles airport. Between the roars of jet-engines, another more melodious sound could be heard.  We started towards the trilling calls.  They seemed to be coming from a large vernal pool in the middle of a gas line cut in the woods.

As we drew near the pool, the music of toads became louder and louder.  I could not believe my eyes or ears!  I saw and heard more toads than I have ever seen any where!  The water was alive with toads.  Swimming toads.  Hopping toads.  Toads climbing on each other.

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Mating Ball o’ Toads

It was truly toadally amazing night.

Delmarva Reptile Fest a Spectacular Success

Posting by CobraCaroline

I awoke early on Saturday morning to start loading live reptiles for the 3 hour drive to Pocomoke City MD.  Snakes, lizards, a tortoise and an alligator all got comfy in their car seats and relaxed while I drove the reptile van across the Bay and through the heart of the Eastern Shore.

Arriving in Pocomoke City, I noted the sign welcoming Reptiles Alive into town.  How awesome!  I LOVE this little “city!”

I parked at the back of the Delmarva Discovery Center (DDC) and went in to find my friend Jennifer Rafter, the DDC’s Curator.  We had an early quick lunch of soft-shell crab sandwiches that I had picked up at a local seafood market and then got to work setting up for the shows.

There were already lots of visitors at the DDC, and they were having a great time enjoying the exhibits featuring the Delmarva’s natural and cultural history and the special attractions that had come for Reptile Fest.

Local artist Jenny Somers painted and displayed her amphibian and reptile artwork that included beautiful wine glasses with red-eyed tree frogs and snakes painted on them and awesome herp paintings.

Heather Cunningham along with Maria and Will Beckey staffed a display featuring the Maryland Amphibian and Reptile Atlas.  The Atlas’s mission is to determine the distribution of amphibians and reptiles in Maryland.

Lots of volunteers and DDC staff including Brooks Olney, Katy Fleming, and Victoria Overholt were on hand to help out with the special temporary display the DDC had set up featuring live snakes and turtles found in Delmarva.  Visitors even had the opportunity to safely pet a live corn snake at this exhibit!

Shannon Chandler and managed the craft area with supplies and volunteers to help children create frogs of their own!  This was a VERY popular activity and the frogs they created were so cute.

Jennifer and DDC intern Raymond Zeintak assisted me with setting up the performance space for the live animal shows.

At 1 pm, I started the first show.  The performance was packed with eager children and adults who were excited to see what exotic creatures had come to visit.

Soy the Honduran milk snake was the first reptile of the show and he caused a stir of “oohs” and “aahs.”  At 5 feet long, his shiny orange and red scales are really eye-catching.  The audience listened intently as I explained how people and snakes are the same on the inside.  They also learned that snakes are afraid of people and that the best thing to do if you see a snake is to “Just leave snakes alone.”

Next, we met an animal from Down Under:  Teliqua the blue tongue skink lizard from Australia amazed the audience with his super cool blue tongue.  Children and parents alike jumped with surprise when they heard the end of my story about the time a blue tongue skink met a dingo dog.

Super tough girl Janis the leopard tortoise from Africa came out next.  As always, everyone LOVED her!  She is so big and pretty with her black spots.  Everyone learned what a turtle shell is made of and what happens when a tortoise meets a lion.

What is the biggest lizard in the world?  The Komodo Dragon – which is actually a type of monitor lizard.  And we met a member of the dragon family when Logan the Nile monitor lizard was introduced.  Gasps of awe could be heard as everyone saw him – he is impressive!  He is over 5 long with beautiful yellow spots and a huge long forked tongue.  And the story about the mommy crocodile, the Nile monitor lizard and the pizza is always a favorite with audiences of all ages.

The grand finale featured Moonlight the albino Burmese python.  Moonlight is still growing, but she is already a crowd-wower at 8 feet long.  Her yellow and white colors and easy going attitude seem to make her favorite , even with people who are a bit afraid of snakes.

After a wrap up with Moonlight, I concluded the first show by inviting any audience members with reptile questions to come up to the table and I would be happy to talk with them.

I repeated this process two more times that day.  All three shows were completely filled up with people.  In fact, there were over 200 people at the Delmarva Reptile Fest that day!

After the event was over and the DDC closed to the public, Jen and I discussed how successful the day was.  We decided to start planning for next year!  So get ready for the 3rd Annual Delmarva Reptile Fest at the Delmarva Discovery Center in the winter of 2012.

Sssssee you later alligators!

I would also like to give a BIG thank you to DDC Executive Director Brian Garrett, all of the members of the DDC board and the residents of Pocomoke City for being so kind and welcoming to both myself and the reptiles.  Thank you all!

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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

Kelly Maguire

Kelly Maguire

22:57 12 Mar 18

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

Lauren Dolinski

Lauren Dolinski

20:47 01 Mar 18

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

Rick Jandrain

Rick Jandrain

01:53 06 Feb 18

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 class.read more

Robert McKeon

Robert McKeon

23:26 26 Feb 18

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

Tianchan Niu

Tianchan Niu

22:09 17 Dec 17

We had Reptiles Alive join us for a country club event and they did an outstanding job! Ashley was amazing and so professional. She was very interactive with the children and played the role perfectly. We couldn’t have asked for a better experience!read more

Chelsea Barb

Chelsea Barb

20:20 28 Mar 18

We’ve been working with Reptiles Alive for the past 4 years now and they show up and show out every time. Everything from booking to the day of is efficient and friendly. At our past event, presenter Liz did 6 shows back to back for our campers, which is truly impressive and phenomenal. We will continue to work with Reptiles Alive for years to come and really appreciate the work and educating that they do!read more

Lydia Vanderbilt

Lydia Vanderbilt

21:09 05 Apr 18

Reptiles Alive gave an awesome show at our elementary school! The presenter was so much fun and really engaged the children. Very cool reptiles and a great interactive meet and greet at the end. The kids loved it!read more

Jonathan Grau

Jonathan Grau

14:52 07 Apr 18

I am in charge of grade level assemblies at our school and our 3rd grade has RA in for their Rain Forest show every year to reinforce the things they have learned about in class. This is my second year working with them and I have been absolutely thrilled with the interaction to book the event and with the presenters. They engage the kids and help make them a part of the show. I can’t say enough about this wonderful program and the amazing people that work there.read more

Kim Painter

Kim Painter

23:32 07 Apr 18

We love this show at our preschool!! The kids have so much fun and learn a lot! They are very organized and always start on time. We have always had a wonderful experience with Reptiles Alive and can’t wait to have them back again!read more

Melissa Jones

Melissa Jones

15:06 20 Apr 18

Reptiles Alive LLC visited our 1st grade friends and did the “Reptiles Alive!” show. They exceeded all of our expectations and were excellent at keeping the students engaged. The students have talked about it for days after, even repeating some of the facts they have heard! I would highly recommend Reptiles Alive!read more

Brittney Gjorgjievski

Brittney Gjorgjievski

16:12 14 May 18

Reptiles Alive was a MAJOR hit at the Mattie Miracle Walk & Family Festival. Rachel was incredibly professional, engaging, and clearly loves what she does. She made the show and meet & greet fun for both kids and adults. Can’t wait to have Reptiles Alive back next year to our event. We received a lot of positive feedback from our guests and we were thrilled to see how well attended the show was at our event. Thank you Reptiles Alive!!!read more

Peter Brown

Peter Brown

01:58 22 May 18

Caroline did an awesome job for our kindergarten Reptiles Alive performance. She held their attention and told fun stories. The reptiles are so cool! Every time she introduced a new reptile, the kids were amazed. I recommend the “meet and greet” time as well. My students will never forget touching a boa constrictor! Thanks Reptiles Alive!read more

Michelle Baldwin

Michelle Baldwin

03:00 09 Jun 18

Reptiles Alive! came to our elementary school for a 3rd grade assembly. Nothing ruffles this organization — they can handle kids of all ages, big groups or small, and bring a *ton* of animals. They are engaging, age-appropriate and bring their own mic system so hearing is not a problem. I highly recommend the meet and greet afterward.read more

Stacey Evers

Stacey Evers

19:25 22 Jun 18

The show was a success, we had around 20 kids between 5-12. Lizzard Liz was great, she was able to keep all of them really interested. The reptiles were amazing, she even brought a small alligator and a boa constrictor.read more

florencia behrensen

florencia behrensen

14:39 02 Jul 18

Caroline at Reptiles Alive! always gives us the best show! It is fun and informative with a variety of reptiles each time she comes. We LOVE Reptiles Alive at Happy Faces Daycare in Centreville, VA!read more

Jessica Roberts

Jessica Roberts

13:56 12 Jul 18

Amazing 5-year old birthday party- Everyone loved the party, especially the birthday boy, who got to be the star of the show (besides the critters). Liz was on time, prepared, AMAZING at answering kids’ and adults’ questions, incredible breadth of knowledge, so good with the kids and animals, made the party fun, arrived on time, totally professional and courteous and an amazing ambassador of animals and representative of Reptiles Alive. We got to meet a few great snakes, a small alligator, a boa constrictor(!), tree frog, bearded dragon, gecko, and turtle.read more

Stacey R

Stacey R

12:55 30 Jul 18

This organization is great! They have a wide varieties of different shows that appeal to all types of audiences. The educators are very gentle with the animals and engaging with the students. Our educator, Caroline, was awesome! She spoke to the children in different voices, was very interactive, creative, and fun. The kids laughed and loved it. I also really liked the additional education that they provided us, as they told us about the origin of the animals that they were showing. It was also really nice to hear that not only the animals have big, safe, appropriate homes, but also that a great deal of their animals are rescues. I would highly recommend this show and we will definitely be booking them again in the future!read more

Mandi Ellis

Mandi Ellis

13:05 08 Aug 18

Had Reptile Alive for my son’s 5th birthday in October. The party was in Maryland. Paid the travel fee and the animals were there on time. The presenter was so nice et patient to my kids and his friends. She provided a lot of information and interacted very well with the crowd. She went beyond the show time and made sure my son had a good party. He loved it!! Loved the fact that he could hold most of the animals and that she even had some tasks for him!! I was very proud and I will recommend this company!! It was an awesome show!! Thank you!read more

Linda Nana

Linda Nana

14:55 11 Oct 18

Perfect birthday party for my son who loves snakes and reptiles of all kinds. Liz was engaging, enthusiastic and made the birthday boy feel super special. All the kids had a blast!read more

Hina Ullah

Hina Ullah

22:26 22 Oct 18

We had Reptiles Alive perform at my son’s 7th birthday party. It was a great show. Tony did a fantastic job relating to the kids, maintaining the right energy level and imparting knowledge as he displayed the animals. Additionally, it was just the right length for the age group. I’d highly recommend Reptiles Alive for an event.read more

Gage Parr

Gage Parr

15:04 03 Dec 18