Creature Feature: Desert Kingsnake

Desert Kingsnake (aka California Kingsnake)

Lampropeltis getula californiae

Reptiles Alive Name: “Reno” and “Tahoe”

Hissstory: Reno was found slithering down a street in Annandale, VA – not his natural habitat!  He was either an escaped or abandoned pet, so we gave him a home.  Our albino desert kingsnake Tahoe was an unwanted pet that we adopted.

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Reno the Desert Kingsnake

RA Diet: We feed our kingsnakes delicious and nutritious frozen and defrosted mice.

Natural Diet: Kingsnakes eat snakes, lizards, birds, eggs and rodents.

Range: Desert kingsnakes are found in California, Nevada, Arizona, Utah and Oregon.

Habitat: Desert kingsnakes may be found in rocky outcrops and clumps of vegetation in chaparral or desert environments.

Size: Desert kingsnakes grow 24-60 inches long.

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Tahoe, the Albino Desert Kingsnake

Lifespan: Kingsnakes can live to be over 20 years old. 

Reproduction: Females lays 2-24 eggs which hatch in about 2 months.

Cool Facts: The kingsnake is the “king of snakes” because it will eat other snakes – even venomous rattlesnakes! Scientists believe kingsnakes have immunity to the venom of the rattlesnakes found in their own home range,  so the kingsnake can be bitten and envenomated with no ill effects.

Creature Feature: Superworms

Superworms (aka Darkling Beetles)

Zophobas morio

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Reptiles Alive Name: Too many to name!

Hissstory: We purchase our superworms from an insect “farm” that caters to zoos and other animal related organizations.

RA Diet: Our superworms dine on oatmeal, whole wheat bread, greens and other veggies.

Natural Diet: Superworms will eat just about anything.

Range: Zophobas beetles are found in Tropical Central & South America.  (Beetles are found in every continent except Antarctica)

Habitat: They love to hide in rotting logs and leaves.

Size: Superworms can grow to 2 inches long and can be as thick as a pencil.

Lifespan: From egg to beetle, superworms have a total lifespan of about 1 year.

Reproduction: Female darkling beetles lay eggs, which hatch out into tiny, baby superworms. The superworms will molt many times as they grow.  After a few months of growing, they morph into a pupae form, (what I like to call the “alien stage”) and emerge as a black beetle called the darkling beetle.  Superworms will only morph into a pupae form if they are “stressed” such as lacking food and water. The larvae will turn into a pupae when food and water are scarce; a perfect time because pupae do not need to eat or drink. Then, the superworms emerge as beetles at a time when food and water are plentiful.

Conservation: As decomposers, superworms are extremely beneficial recyclers of organic material.   They are also a tasty treat for many animals and, even some humans!

Cool Facts: In many countries, superworms and mealworms are cooked and eaten by humans. They are healthy and a valuable source of protein. Taste a little like almonds. (No really, they are delicious.)

Creature Feature: Boa Constrictor

Boa Constrictor

Boa constrictor

Reptiles Alive Name: “Dennis & Sunflower (the albino)”

Hisssstory: Dennis was an unwanted pet left with reptile rescue organization that adopted him to us in October of 2003.   Sunflower came from a special boa constrictor breeding facility in April of 2009.

RA Diet: Frozen, defrosted and then warmed up jumbo sized dead rats.  Yummmmmmmmmmm.boa_constrictor

Range: Boa constrictors have an enormous range from Mexico to Argentina.

Habitat:
 Boa constrictors  live in many habitats:  rain forests, dry tropical woodlands, grasslands, farms, and even urban regions.

Natural Diet: Boa constrictors will consume birds,  small mammals, and occasionally reptiles.

Size: The boa constrictor grows to an average length of 9 feet. Record length was 13 feet 1 inch. (The biggest snake, the anaconda, is a type of boa.)

Reproduction: Females give live birth of up to 50 babies at a time.

Lifespan:
 Boa constrictors are  long living snakes and can live for 40 years.

Conservation:
 Threats include:  human predation, roads, habitat loss and the pet trade. This is one of  the most commonly abandoned pet snakes.   Boa constrictors  get large, requiring custom built reptile enclosures, high heat and humidity, and food is not often found at the local grocery store!  Not a good pet choice for most people.

Cool Facts: 
Boa constrictors are the kings and queens of the jungle.  Most rain forest animals are adapted to live in a specific layer of the forest.  For example:  Amazon river turtles live in the river, giant toads live on the forest floor,  and iguanas live in the canopy.  Boa constrictors, however, are adapted for living in all the layers of the jungle.  Like all snakes, they swim, so you can find them in the river.  Their beautiful colors give them camouflage that makes them almost invisible while resting quietly on the forest floor.  And, boa constrictors love to hang out in the canopy!  The boa constrictor is the master of the rain forest.

New Snake Apartments at RA HQ

Its hard to believe, but Reptiles Alive has been around for over 15 years.  Even before then, Caroline Seitz was presenting shows as “The Reptile Lady.”  That was well before there was an “Animal Planet” and before there was a huge industry selling reptile products.

In the  early 90′s, Caroline was on the cutting edge of reptile husbandry (the care of captive reptiles) when she hired a cabinet maker to build her some “snake racks.”  Before then, most people kept small or medium size snakes in glass fish aquariums.  Fish aquariums are perfect for fish, but not so good for snakes.  Snakes can easily escape by popping of the top, snakes can injure themselves rubbing on the screen lid, and the aquariums are very heavy and hard to keep clean.

Snake racks, on the other hand, are designed with snakes in mind.  Plastic tubs with holes drilled into the side slide in and out of slots in the rack.  The plastic “drawers” fit perfectly into the slot so there is no way the snake can escape.  The racks are super easy to clean and heat and most snakes and snake keepers love them. (Snakes spend most of their time curled up under a log or down in a nice dark burrow where predators cannot get to them.)  Snake racks provide a perfect hideout for our small ground dwelling serpents, where they snooze or take a  dip in their big water bowls after working a long day of shows.  AHHHH.

The snake rack at Reptiles Alive, however, was now almost 20 years old – and it was driving the RA team crazy!  Back in the 90′s, there were no companies building snake racks – most people had never heard of such a thing.  So the cabinet maker Caroline hired used melamine (particle board sandwiched between sheets of plastic.)  It was a great idea – and really the only material available at the time.  But after 20 years of hard use, the melamine started cracking and the particle board inside swelled.  This caused A LOT of frustration when opening and closing the drawers.

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Arrrgh! These drawers are driving me nuts!

We decided it was about time for a brand new snake rack.  So it was OUT WITH THE OLD AND IN WITH THE NEW!  We ordered a new rack from Animal Plastics and eagerly awaited its arrival.

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Ooooh – we were so excited to open these boxes.  Jen started putting the rack together, while Caroline continued to clean and feed all the RA animals.

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Jennifer – putting it all together

Later that same day Jen had to present two Ecosystems Alive assembly shows at an elementary school.  She packed up the animals and left.  Luckily, the rack was pretty easy to put together and Rachel came in that afternoon to help out.

Between Caroline, Jennifer and Rachel, all the animals were taken care of, phone calls and emails were answered, school assemblies were performed, an old snake rack was destroyed, and a new snake rack was put together.  WHEW!  What a day!!  It was TOTALLY worth it.

To see a video of our new snake rack, visit the Reptiles Alive Facebook Page.

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UPCOMING EVENTS

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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