Celebrating 20 Years of Reptiles Alive LLC Part I – A Look Way Back

With Reptiles Alive LLC celebrating its 20th anniversary this year, I wanted to share some of the amazing moments and memories of how it all started.

A question I get asked quite often is “Why do you like snakes so much?” My love of snakes began when I was very young.  My grand-mom read me the story Rikki Tikki Tavi. When I saw pictures of cobras in the book,  I thought these were the most amazing and wonderful creatures imaginable!  I asked mom for a pet cobra.  She said no.

Although I couldn’t have a pet cobra, both my parents and grandparents were amazing in fully supporting and encouraging my interest in snakes even though none of them had any interest in scaly or legless creatures.   My parents allowed me to collect a small menagerie of local snakes, turtles, and frogs to keep in my bedroom. Grand-mom would “snake-sit”  my pets when I was away on family vacations. During one snake-sitting occasion, my northern brown snake gave birth to 20 teeny-tiny baby brown snakes at grand-mom’s house.  (Baby brown snakes are about two inches long and thinner than an earthworm. Teeny-tiny!)

On a few occasions, some of my pets would escape.  True stories:  Dad found a bull frog in his shoe one morning; Mom found a large spotted salamander creeping across her bedroom floor one night; and my younger brother found a gray tree frog stuck to his bedroom mirror and thought a rock had somehow gotten stuck there.  And of course there was the occasional snake slithering down the hall.  For some reason, most of the escapees headed for my parents’ room.

I spent most of my childhood days in the swamp behind our house searching for snakes and other critters.  When I wasn’t out in the swamp, I read every reptile related book I could find at the local library. Writing in my “herpetology journal” was how I spent colder months when the reptiles in my neighborhood were hibernating.  Yep, I was a herp nerd.  No doubt.

CobraCaroline wearing her favorite snake shirt with Dad and painted turtle. Smoking is BAD, this was the 70's though...

CobraCaroline wearing her favorite iron-on snake shirt with Dad and a painted turtle.

I was lucky enough to live near Hidden Oaks Nature Center, a place that not only could I visit nearly every week to see captive snakes, but also had a kind staff naturalist who encouraged my interest in herpetology and let me begin volunteering at the center when I was only 9 years old. (Thank you Nancy Cooley!) One of the first live reptile shows I performed happened sometime in the 70’s at Hidden Oaks Nature Center.

One of CobraCaroline's very firs live reptile shows!

One of CobraCaroline’s very first live reptile shows!

The hair might have been big, but the plumed basilisk was awesome!

The 80’s hair might have been big, but the plumed basilisk was awesome!

During high school, I continued volunteering at the nature center and also became a licensed wildlife rehabilitator.  As a reptile rehabber, I began rescuing not only injured wild reptiles but also taking in unwanted pet reptiles and sometimes assisting animal control agencies with reptile “situations.”

cv and copperhead

Treating an ailing copperhead

Morletts Crocodile at the Fairfax County Animal Shelter

Morlett’s crocodile at Fairfax County Animal Shelter

While attending Northern Virginia Community College, my vertebrate zoology professor Walter Bulmer reaffirmed my passion for reptiles and natural history.  He led us on many awesome field herping expeditions to places including the Great Dismal Swamp where I learned how to catch amphiumas, bats, and songbirds. (Fun RA fact: Caroline’s zoology teacher Mr. Bulmer is RA wildlife educator Tony Bulmer’s dad!)

At George Mason University, I was finally able to take Dr. Carl Ernst’s graduate course in herpetology.  This was a dream I’d had since I was in 4th grade and my parents purchased his book Turtles of the United States as my birthday present.  I met Dr. Ernst then and asked if I could take his class.  He laughed and said “Maybe in 10 years or so.”  And I did take that class.  One of the best courses ever.

After graduation, a I worked at a variety of interesting jobs:  snake removal technician at a pest control company; wildlife educator at a local zoo; and park ranger and naturalist.

Park Ranger Caroline and Eastern box turtle.

Park Ranger Caroline and Eastern box turtle.

I had been presenting educational live reptile shows part-time since I was 9, but wondered, could I really make this work as a full-time business?  I took the chance and quit all my other jobs to focus on creating my dream:  an organization with a mission dedicated to showing people how awesome and important snakes, reptiles, and other misunderstood animals really are.

In 1996, I founded “The Reptile Lady,” soon to be renamed, “Reptiles Alive LLC.”

Taking calls at the new RA HQ!

The Reptile Lady taking calls in the new office

Next:  Looking Back at the first 20 Years of Reptiles Alive LLC

A Few 2015 RA Team Memories

Reptiles Alive is gearing up to celebrate our 20th anniversary this year!  Let’s start with a few thoughts from the RA team about this past year.

CobraCaroline with Sunflower the Albino Boa Constrictor

CobraCaroline with Sunflower the Albino Boa Constrictor

 Caroline Seitz “CobraCaroline”
2015 was another fun, amazing, and fast paced year here at Reptiles Alive.  As the director, I had the pleasure of working with one of the best teams we’ve had.  I can’t say enough good things about Rockin’ReptileRachel, LizardLiz, and TuataraTony.  Reptiles Alive is great because each of them is so dedicated to our mission to teach about how reptiles are super animals, just as important as any other creature.

 

Rockin'ReptileRachel with Tupinambis the Tegu

Rockin’ReptileRachel with Tupinambis the Tegu

Rachel Walker “Rockin’ReptileRachel”

As Assistant Director, Rachel presented over 340 shows to nearly 26,500 people while also:  answering phones, responding to emails, booking shows, assisting with animal care, and taking charge of everything while I was traveling.  And no matter what she is doing, Rachel always has a positive, upbeat attitude.  As one of our clients said about her, “We definitely look forward to having Reptiles Alive come back and hopefully with Rachel, she made the experience wonderful!”

tony and beardie

TuataraTony and Mr. Beardie the Bearded Dragon

Tony Bulmer “TuataraTony”

RA Wildlife Educator Tony says “The best thing [about last year] is the amount of repeat birthdays I did. It is always amazing how many times we go back year to year to the same house for the same child. They never get tired of us!
When asked about what made him the happiest at RA in 2015, he said “I think hitting my 15 year mark as your employee! Maybe 16 I am not sure.”
As for the future, Tony says “In 2016 I look forward to keeping up the fight in protecting the coolest family of animals on the planet, the reptiles. Wildlife educators rock!.”
LizardLiz and Rango the Iguana

LizardLiz and Rango the Iguana

 Elizabeth Thompson “LizardLiz”
2015 was Liz’s first year working at RA.  Hired as both our Lead Animal Keeper and as a Wildlife Educator, Liz is in charge of the animal care and she is responsible for presenting outreach shows as well.  Over the past year, she has demonstrated a true passion and commitment for both the care of the reptiles and teaching others about them.
Liz says:
“The best thing to happen to me in 2015 was being hired on with Reptiles Alive! I couldn’t believe that I got my dream job less than a year out of college! It just goes to show that experience, education, and persistence truly pay off! I am so excited to be working with such wonderful people and share my passion with hundreds of children!
I am very happy about all of the positive feedback that I get from all of my clients as well as my coworkers! It feels good to know that I am excelling at my job as much as I am enjoying it! I love working with all of the animals as well as all the kids!
My 2016 goals:
I aim to do more shows so that I can visit more awesome kids and have a blast teaching them!
I want to learn more about all kinds of animals! No one ever stops learning!
I hope to continue improving in my work and living up to my coworkers’ expectations!”

Creepy Reptiles Alive Visiting Falls Church Halloween Carnival

For Immediate Release

CONTACT: Caroline Seitz

Reptiles Alive LLC

703 560-0257

www.ReptilesAlive.com

ReptilesAlive@gmail.com

www.Facebook.com/ReptilesAlive

Creepy” Reptiles Alive Visiting Falls Church Halloween Carnival

toad

Friday, October 30 from 6-8:30 the Falls Church Community Center will play host to the annual Halloween Carnival and feature “Creepy Reptiles Alive” shows at 6:15 with a second show at 7:15 pm.

This popular and family friendly event features all kinds of fun activities including a variety of carnival games, a moon bounce, crafts, a haunted house, candy, and of course, Reptiles Alive.

During each “Creepy Reptiles Alive” show, a variety of live snakes, toads, giant exotic roaches and other creatures will be presented by wildlife educator Rockin’ReptileRachel. She will dispel common myths and misconceptions about the animals, explaining why there is no need to fear them. After the show, audiences will have the opportunity to ask questions and safely pet a live boa constrictor or python. Each show is approximately 45 to 60 minutes including the hands-on animal encounters.

The first hour starting at 6 pm is suggested for infants through kindergarteners and the second hour is suggested for older kids in 1st through 5th grade.

An entrance fee of $2 per child is charged to ages 2 and older. The event is free for adults and children younger than 2.

The Falls Church Community Center is located at

223 Little Falls St.

Falls Church VA 22406

More information about the carnival is at

http://www.fallschurchva.gov/642/Halloween-Carnival

Since 1996, Reptiles Alive LLC continues to be the premiere live animal show for the Washington, D. C. area. Our colorful, exotic animals and the most fun and friendly wildlife educators make Reptiles Alive LLC your first choice for family entertainment. Our shows are perfect for schools, parties, and all kinds of special events.

###

Reptiles Alive LLC 2015 Annual Wildlife Exhibitor Report

As we near the 20th Anniversary of proudly providing the best live reptile shows in the DC Metro Area, Reptiles Alive LLC continues to present tons of fun, exciting, and educational programs.

From September 30 2014 through October 1 2015, Reptiles Alive LLC presented 706 educational programs to approximately 52,880 people. 

As always, we presented shows for children’s birthday parties, school assemblies and classes, scout meetings, summer camps,  libraries and all kinds of fun special events.  More than 50% of our bookings each year are for repeat clients including:  Mason Neck State Park, Celebrate Fairfax, Loudoun County Libraries, Maryland Science Museum, and so, so many more.  We also provide education programs for animal first-responders and this year we held a workshop for the staff at the Washington Humane Society’s DC Animal Shelter.

 

CobraCaroline presenting "Backyard Reptiles Alive!" at the Mason Neck State Park Eagle Festival

CobraCaroline presenting “Backyard Reptiles Alive!” at the Mason Neck State Park Eagle Festival

New faces, both human and animal, are part of every year at RA.

At the end of December, Wildlife Educator and Keeper Stephen Maddox (aka SidewinderStephen)  transferred from the RA team to RA’s veterinarian Dr. Anne HIss’s team at Town & Country Animal Hospital  where he is working as a veterinary technician.  Stephen plans on attending vet school next year and becoming a DVM.  We all miss him, but we are also super excited and happy for him to be working towards such an awesome career helping animals!

SidewinderStephen and Juanita Amiga the Iguana

SidewinderStephen and Juanita Amiga the Iguana

As soon as Stephen notified us, we started our search for a new Animal Keeper/Wildlife Educator.  It takes just the right kind of person to fill the RA keeper/educator position.  In addition to so many skills including a general knowledge of herpetology and public speaking, the winning applicant must:

  • Have a super positive, can-do anything attitude
  • Love SNAKES and children, and all kinds of other animals too
  • Be comfortable driving in metro DC area including downtown during rush hour
  • Enjoy spending lots and lots of time cleaning cages and caring for animals

We are very happy to have found Liz Thompson (aka LizardLiz) who has filled this specialized job fantastically.  She is a quick learner and says working at RA “is my dream job!”  Liz works so hard as our Animal Keeper caring for all of our many animals and keeping all their homes scrupulously clean.  In addition, she has already performed 91 shows since starting in Februrary!  And all of her reviews are glowing – kids, moms, teachers, and RA animals all agree that LizardLiz is a real keeper!  (pun intended ha ha – sorry.)

NEWEST RA team member LizardLiz and Lil'G

NEWEST RA team member LizardLiz and Lil’G

We  had a few new animals join our team as well this year including an:

  • African Bull frog transferred from a reptile rescue organization
  • Bearded Dragon and Green Iguana adopted from the Washington Humane Society
  • Crested Gecko given up by its owner
  • Eastern Box Turtle, Albino Corn Snake, and California King snake all adopted from the Loudoun County Animal Shelter

The new green iguana we named “Little Jerry Garcia” was found on apartment balcony in NW DC.  The apartment dweller called the Washington Humane Society who sent an animal control officer to capture him.  His story made it into the Washington Post’s Sunday Metro section’s animal column.  After spending a few months in quarantine, Little Jerry is now a part of our regular animal star team.  And he is adorable (but with an attitude!)

We also had a few animals leave us this year.

Animals we transferred to other zoos or wildlife facilities include:

  • 1 American Alligator
  • 1 Blue Tongue Skink
  • 1 Boa Constrictor
  • 1 Eastern Rat Snake
  • 1 Nelsons Milk Snake

All of our animals receive top notch care from our RA staff members and, when necessary, are treated by DVMs who specialize in reptiles and wildlife.  Most of the animals that live at RA were rescued as adults, often with pre-existing medical conditions.  Every year we have to say good bye to few animal friends who have died, and this year we said goodbye to:

  • 1 American Toad
  • 1 Anerythristic Corn Snake
  • 1 Bull Frog
  • 1 California King Snake
  • All of our Haitian Cockroaches
  • 1 Marbled Salamander
  • 1 Spiny Softshell Turtle
Oh Sofshell, we miss you so much!

Oh Softshell, we miss you so much!

 

Next year will make it 20 years since Caroline Seitz founded Reptiles Alive LLC and you can count on us to keep going ssspectacularly!

Reptiles Alive! LLC 2015 Animal Inventory
African Bull Frog 1 Pyxicephalus adsperus
American Alligator 1 Alligator missipiensis
American Toad 1 Anaxyrus americanus
Argentine Horned Frog 1 Ceratophres ornata
Australian Green Treefrog 4 Litoria caerulea
Ball Python 1 Python regius
Bearded Dragon 2 Pogona vitticeps
Blue Tongue Skink 2 Teliqua scincoides
Boa Constrictor 3 Boa constrictor constrictor
Bull Frog 1 Rana catesbeiana
Burmese Python 1 Python molurus bivittatus
California King Snake 1 Lampropeltis getula californiae
Central Asian Tortoise 1 Testudo horsefieldi
Crested Gecko 2 Rhacodactylus ciliatus
Corn Snake 2 Pantherophis guttatus
Earthworm 25+ Eisenia fetida
Eastern Box Turtle 2 Terrapene carolina carolina
Eastern Rat Snake 2 Pantherophis obsoletus
Eastern Snapping Turtle 1 Chelydra serpintena serpentina
Garden Slug 5 Limax maximus
Green Iguana 2 Iguana iguana
Haitian Brown Tarantula 1 Phormictophis cancerides
Honduran Milk Snake 2 Lampropeltis triangulum hondurensis
House Cricket 1000 Acheta domestica
Kenyan Sand Boa 1 Eryx colubrinus loveridgei
Leopard Gecko 2 Eublepharis macularius
Leopard Tortoise 1 Geochelone pardalis
Madagascar Hissing Cockroaches 25+ Gromphadorina portentosa
Malagasy Giant Hognose Snake 1 Leioheterodon madagascarensis
Mealworm 1000 Tenebrio molitar
Northern Diamondback Terrapin 1 Malaclemys terrapin
Pacific Gopher Snake 1 Pituophis catenifer catenifer
Prehensile-tailed Skink 1 Corucia zebrata
Savannah Monitor Lizard 1 Varanus exanthematicus
Spotted Salamander 1 Ambystoma maculatum
Spotted Turtle 1 Clemmys guttata
Sudan Plated Lizard 1 Gerrhosaurus major
Tegu Lizard 2 Tupinambis teguixin
Uromastyx Lizard 1 Uromastyx acanthurus
Water Monitor Lizard 1 Varanus salvator
Western Hognose Snake 1 Heterodon nasicus

 

 

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UPCOMING EVENTS

  1. Reston Spring Festival

    May 5 @ 4:00 pm - 4:45 pm
  2. Mason Neck State Park Eagle Festival

    May 12 @ 11:15 am - 5:00 pm
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