Top Five Super Snake FACTSSS

At Reptiles Alive LLC, we spend our days educating people about snakes and other reptiles.  Here some super snake facts we with everybody knew.

1.  Snakes are SHY animals that will not chase or attack people.

Wild snakes are truly afraid of humans. Even large snakes, even venomous snakes, if left alone, will leave people alone. Snakes in the wild are never aggressive towards people, but they become defensive when they feel bothered or threatened by larger animals. If you encounter a snake in the wild, leave it alone, and it will leave you alone.

2. Snakes have DRY skin.

Snakes, like all other reptiles, have scales made of keratin covering their body. Keratin is a type of protein that makes up people’s hair and finger nails. Bird feathers are made of keratin. Just like birds and people, snakes are NOT SLIMY. If snakes go swimming, they will get wet (like you do), but they are never slimy. Slugs, eels, and many frogs are slimy – their skin is covered in a layer of mucous.


3.  Snakes have a brain and can FEEL pain and fear.

If a snake is injured, it feels the pain of the injury. When snakes in the wild are cornered or pursued by larger animals, (including humans), they feel fear which causes them to react with a variety of defensive strategies. Although snakes may not be able to learn how to do math or drive cars, their brain operates in a similar way to your brain, just on a smaller scale.

4. Snakes have a skeleton made of BONES.

Just like people, snakes are VERTEBRATE animals. They have back bones, ribs, skulls, and some snakes even have hip bones. Like people, snakes also have a heart, liver, kidneys, intestines, and other internal organs. On the inside, snakes and people are very similar.

5.  Many snakes with triangle-shaped heads and patterns on their body are non-venomous.

If you are in the Washington DC metro area, there is only one native venomous species: the copperhead. You are far more likely to encounter one of the other 17 or so non-venomous snake species, yet, nearly all snakes in our area have been labeled “copperheads” due to their head shape, colors, or pattern. Nearly any species of snake, including a garter snake, will flatten its head into a “triangle-shape” when threatened (like when it sees YOU.) Nearly all species of snakes in our area have a pattern on their body at some point in their life (rat snakes and racers start life with a pattern that slowly fades to black as they get older.) If you see a snake, whether you think it is a copperhead, or not, just leave the snake alone. If you leave the snake alone, it will leave you alone.


Photo courtesy of John White and the Virginia Herpetological Society

Snakes are fascinating creatures that are often misunderstood and feared by people.  One of our goals at Reptiles Alive LLC is to help people and snakes by teaching the facts about these awesome animals.

Reptiles Alive LLC 2012 Annual Report


This has been another ssspectacular year of herpetological education at Reptiles Alive LLC.  People of all ages discovered how exciting reptiles and science can be at our shows performed at schools, libraries, camps, fairs, birthday parties, and special events of all kinds throughout Virginia, Maryland, and Washington DC.  Between September 30, 2011 through October 1, 2012, Reptiles Alive LLC widlife educators presented 742 programs for approximately 50,970 people.

Our animal collection currently includes 49 species of amphibians, invertebrates, and of course, reptiles.

This year we received a few new faces including 3 adorable babies:  a baby alligator we named “Baby G”; a baby bearded dragon we have not yet named; and a baby Northern diamondback terrapin named “Station.”  We also received a very handsome tegu we’ve named “Senor Guapo.”  He is a huge (literally) hit with audiences at our “Rain Forests Alive!” shows.

Sadly, we lost one of our oldest and most beloved animal team members.  “Logan,” our super-friendly Nile monitor lizard was probably between 17-20 years old when he passed away last November. He came to us in 2000 from the Wildlife Center of Virginia as a  young adult.   He was truly one of our stars and our staff and fans miss him very much.

We also transferred two of our albino Burmese pythons, “Sunshine” and “Starlight”, to another wildlife educator due to the new federal regulation that prohibits the interstate transport of Burmese pythons.  We still have our albino Burmese python “Moonlight” and our beautiful albino boa constrictor “Sunflower.”   We also added 2 additional boa constrictors to replace the Burmese pythons. So, we now have a total of 1 Burmese python and 4 boa constrictors.

Here’s to another sssuccessful year of reptile and wildlife education!

Reptiles Alive! LLC


Animal Inventory

African Spurred Tortoise 1 Geochelone sulcata
American Alligator 2 Alligator missipiensis
American Toad 2 Bufo americanus americanus
Ball Python 1 Python regius
Bearded Dragon 2 Pogona vitticeps
Blue Tongue Skink 2 Teliqua scincoides
Boa Constrictor 4 Boa constrictor constrictor
Bull Frog 2 Rana catesbeiana
Burmese Python 1 Python molurus bivittatus
California King Snake 2 Lampropeltis getula californiae
Central Asian Tortoise 1 Testudo horsefieldi
Cope’s Gray Treefrog 3 Hyla chrysoscelis
Crested Gecko 1 Rhacodactylus ciliatus
Corn Snake 2 Pantherophis guttatus
Earthworm 25+ Eisenia fetida
Eastern Box Turtle 1 Terrapene carolina carolina
Eastern Rat Snake 1 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
Haitian Cockroach 25 + Blaberus sp.
Honduran Milk Snake 2 Lampropeltis triangulum hondurensis
House Cricket 1000 Acheta domestica
Kenyan Sand Boa 1 Eryx colubrinus loveridgei
Leopard Gecko 1 Eublepharis macularius
Leopard Tortoise 1 Geochelone pardalis
Madagascar Hissing Cockroaches 25+ Gromphadorina portentosa
Malagasy Giant Hognose Snake 1 Leioheterodon madagascarensis
Mealworm 1000 Tenebrio molitar
Mexican Red Leg Tarantula 1 Aphonopelum bicoloratum
Nelson’s Milksnake 1 Lampropeltis triangulum nelsonii
Northern Diamondback Terrapin 1 Malaclemys terrapin
Pacific Gopher Snake 1 Pituophis catenifer catenifer
Prehensile-tailed Skink 1 Corucia zebrata
Spiny Softshell Turtle 1 Apalone spinifera
Spotted Salamander 1 Ambystoma maculatum
Spotted Turtle 1 Clemmys guttata
Sudan Plated Lizard 1 Gerrhosaurus major
Tegu Lizard 2 Tupinambis teguixin
Tokay Gecko 1 Gekko gecko
Uromastyx Lizard 1 Uromastyx acanthurus
Water Monitor Lizard 1 Varanus salvator
White Line Gecko 1 Gecko vittatus
Yellow-spotted Amazon River Turtle 1 Podocnemis unifilis

Creature Feature: Tony Bulmer

Tony Bulmer
Wildlife Educator


Tony with Starlight

 Reptiles Alive Name: “Tuatara Tony”

Hissstory: Tuatara Tony has been with Reptiles Alive LLC almost from our very beginning back in the nineties! Which makes him closely related to dinosaurs. Listen closely for his grunts and groans as he lifts some of our heavier reptile friends.

RA Diet: Tony enjoys eating red meat and corn nuts. He also never turns down pizza from birthday party hosts.

Natural Diet: Grilled anything and watermelon.

Range: Tuatara Tony grew up on the salt marshes of Southern Connecticut. He was relocated to Northern Virginia after a spell in the United States Air Force.

Habitat: You can find Tony the Tautara cruising the beltway with a truck full of reptiles. When not working for Reptiles Alive, visit him at Ellanor C. Lawrence Park where he is the naturalist in charge of Programs. If not in the building, he is deep in the woods somewhere locating native reptiles and amphibians.

Size: Tony has reached a total length of 5’10 and has a fluctuating waist line.

Lifespan: Tuatara Tony  could live to 90 years or more. (Depending on how many corn nuts he eats.)

Reproduction: Tuatara Tony has been mated for 12 years to Darlene and is the proud parent of three children.

Conservation: In addition to working at Reptiles Alive, Tuatara Tony is currently a Naturalist at Ellanor C. Lawrence Park in Chantilly, Virginia. He has a degree in Parks and Recreation and loves protecting the environment. His long-term goal is to stay in the woods permanently.

Cool Facts: As a wildlife educator Tony can talk about critters for days. While he loves reptiles and amphibians he is equally versed in mammals and birds. When asked why he does so well with birthday parties for Reptiles Alive he says, “I have three children, need I say more.”

How to Create a Nature Journal

Why Keep a Journal?

Scientists, naturalists, and wildlife enthusiasts keep journals to help them remember what they have seen. Many things may happen when you are out in the wild. The purpose of the journal is to record your observations for later reading. If you do a good job, you may discover exciting patterns emerging. These patterns are what usually lead to new discoveries about the world around us.

Selecting a Journal

I have found that small, unlined sketchbooks with a hard cover work best. The journal should be small enough to fit in a daypack, but large enough you can draw pictures and comfortably write in it.

Many people write in two journals at a time. I carry a journal with me in my backpack that I can jot down quick notes and illustrations while I’m out in the field. This journal tends to get dirty and a bit beat up. I write fast since I expect to be the only one reading my backpack journal.

I keep a second, nicer journal at home. After my outing into the wild, I transfer all of my notes from my backpack journal into my nice journal at home. Good journals may be found at: large bookstores, art stores, or museums.

What do I write in a Journal?

This is the fun part. What you actually write in your journal depends on what you are interested in.

You might like reptiles or other animals, plants, rocks, weather, or even the stars in the night sky. Any of these are great topics for you to write in your journal.

If you are interested in what certain animals eat, you may sit for long periods of time watching a particular animal and recording what it eats. You may draw pictures of the food items or even press leaves from the plants they are eating in the pages of your journal. You may be interested in the different animals seen during a hike. In this case it is more important writing down information you can use later to identify the animals.

You may be surprised what you have already forgotten by the time you have gotten home. The key to a good journal is in the details. Not only write in detail about what you are interested in, but also the time of day, the temperature, the weather, and specifics about the habitat that day. Insignificant details jotted down at the time may be the essential clue to an answer you have been searching for.

You also may include information you learn about animals or nature while visiting a zoo or nature center. A trip to the zoo is a great way to see lots of animals from all over the world and a trip to a nature center is a great way to see animals from your own neighborhood!

You may have a question about an animal or other subject that you could find the answer to in a book at the library. After you have found your answer, include it in your journal along with the bookss title and author.

Don’t feel that you have to stick to objective observations. Include a funny thing that happened, your feelings or your thoughts, maybe even write a poem or a song. The most interesting reading later on tend to be the author’s reaction. The next great scientific find may start with your thoughts!


So, you are no Leonardo or Picasso, fear not! Check out the book The Voyage of Beagle by Charles Darwin. You may agree that many of the pictures in his journal were not great works of art. They weren’t meant to be. Most drawings are used as reminders on how something looked. Drawings are essential, especially when you need to remember exactly what color the stripes were, or how long the tail was.

Don’t forget to illustrate landscapes and habitats. Include sections of trail maps, and draw your own maps. Pictures may also be used to describe animal behavior and movements.

Photographs are also helpful. I take my digital camera with me on outings. Print small pictures on photo paper and glue them directly to journal pages. Use picture safe glue or archive safe photo tape (found in the scrapbook aisle in your local arts and crafts store).


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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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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

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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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