Inspiring Children to Love Learning – with Reptiles

Do you know a child who loves snakes? How about a child who loves exploring in the park and asks questions about every leaf, rock, and worm?  Or a child who wants to know how an airplane flies or what makes the trash truck so loud?  If so, you know a child who is interested in science.

While hiking in the cold winter woods the other day, I began thinking of all the family members, teachers, and other adults who encouraged my interest in snakes , reptiles, and the natural world when I was a child.

Although no one in my family loved (or even liked) snakes, my parents allowed me to explore the woods and swamps near my house,  bring home and even the keep garter snakes and frogs I found.  My grandparents brought me to reptile lectures at the zoo  and baked cakes in the shape of snakes and lizards for my birthdays.  When I was 9 years old, my grandma even snake-sat for me while I was on vacation – and my pet brown snake gave birth to over 20 live baby snakes while under her care!

Due to the encouragement of my family, I developed a life long love of and respect for nature and science.   My goal in creating Reptiles Alive over 16 years ago was to inspire the same interests for science in other people – especially children.

Watching television shows or looking at a computer screens are two dimensional experiences that have little impact on our senses .  Seeing a snake or lizard in a picture will not inspire the same excitement as seeing a real, living, breathing animal up close.

Imagine the difference between looking at a picture of an apple on a computer screen and holding a real apple in your hand.  Which experience will give you a better appreciation for what an apple really is?

A child who comes home from a Reptiles Alive show wanting to learn more about reptiles,  is a child who has been inspired to learn.  An interest in snakes and animals can lead to interests in other aspects of science.  A love of nature and animals can lead to compassion for all living creatures and our planet itself.

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Reptiles Alive needs Your Help

Do you love seeing a professional, exciting, safe and fun live animal show at your school, library, scout meeting, party, or special event?  Are you in favor of inspiring children to care about wildlife and the environment?  How do you feel about small businesses providing jobs and income for families?

RIGHT NOW there is legislation, both passed and impending, causing negative impact professional wildlife educators, environmental education, small businesses and families.

This week, the US Fish & Wildlife Service passed a nonsensical ban on the interstate transport of Burmese pythons and 3 other snake species to protect Everglades National Park.  However, according to USFWS officials who created the ban:  “Although the ban should put a stop to additional pythons entering the country, officials say it will not solve the snake problem in the Everglades. We still have to look at improved management and removal to better protect our habitat.”

So a MAJOR piece of government regulation that will have overreaching negative impacts on families and small businesses across the United States will not even accomplish what it’s intended goal was!!!

Now, there is another looming piece of government regulation.

Proposed Virginia Senate Bill Number 477 will be a major blow to Virginia’s citizens.  Unintended consequences of this ill-conceived legislation will impact everyone from school children to the Virginia tourism industry.

Please take the time to read the bill and reach out to the Virginia Senators involved in this proposal.  Their names and contact information can be found at http://lis.virginia.gov/cgi-bin/legp604.exe?121+com+S01

You might also consider contacting your local newspaper, radio, or televisions stations to let them know how you feel about the proposed bill.

NEXT – The Reptiles Alive LLC Official Response to Proposed Senate Bill No. 477

Reptiles Alive LLC 2011 Annual Wildlife Exhibitor Report

Wow – what a ssspectacular year we have had here at Reptiles Alive LLC.  Between September 30, 2010 thru October 1, 2011  we performed 857 educational live animal shows for approximately 55, 500 people of all ages.

As always, we had great fun at all the venues we traveled to including:  schools, libraries, birthday parties, scout meetings, libraries, camps, nature centers, animal shelters, senior centers, and tons of  fairs, festivals, and special events.

We added two new animals to our collection this year.  A Pacific gopher snke we named “Carl Spackler” was donated to us by a former staff member and an anerythristic corn snake we name “Anakin” was an unwanted pet that we were able to provide a home to.  Both animals were quarantined for 3 months while we assessed their health, but now, both snakes are a permanent part of our education collection.

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Carl Spackler the Gopher Snake

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Anakin the Anerythristic Corn Snake

Look for the Gopher snake to star in our “Deserts Alive!” show and for the anerythristic corn snake to help you find out the special secret of the black rat snake in our “Backyards Alive!”show.

Two of our animals passed away this year.  Mr. Pituophis (aka Vader) the Bull snake and our little buddy Schneider the Schneider’s skink.  We loved both of them.  Mr. Pituophis was a big bluffer:  he would huff and puff and hiss, but he was so tame that he was used in making videos with actors who were afraid of snakes!   Schneider was so personable and seemed to always love the attention from our keepers and other people too.  What a great lizard!  We miss them both very much.

Reptiles Alive LLC 2011 Animal Inventory

Common Name Scientific Name Qty
African Spurred Tortoise Geochelone sulcata 1
American Alligator Alligator missipiensis 2
American Toad Bufo americanus americanus 2
Ball Python Python regius 1
Bearded Dragon Pogona vitticeps 1
Blue Tongue Skink Teliqua scincoides 2
Boa Constrictor Boa constrictor constrictor 2
Bull Frog Rana catesbeiana 2
Burmese Python Python molurus bivittatus 3
California King Snake Lampropeltis getula californiae 2
Central Asian Tortoise Testudo horsefieldi 1
Cope’s Gray Treefrog Hyla chrysoscelis 3
Crested Gecko Rhacodactylus ciliatus 1
Corn Snake Pantherophis guttatus 2
Earthworm Eisenia fetida 25+
Eastern Box Turtle Terrapene carolina carolina 1
Eastern Rat Snake Pantherophis obsoletus 1
Eastern Snapping Turtle Chelydra serpintena serpentina 1
Garden Slug Limax maximus 5
Green Iguana Iguana iguana 2
Haitian Brown Tarantula Phormictophis cancerides 1
Haitian Cockroach Blaberus sp. 25 +
Honduran Milk Snake Lampropeltis triangulum hon 2
House Cricket Acheta domestica 1000
Kenyan Sand Boa Eryx colubrinus loveridgei 1
Leopard Gecko Eublepharis macularius 1
Leopard Tortoise Geochelone pardalis 1
Madagascar Hissing Cockroaches Gromphadorina portentosa 25+
Malagasy Giant Hognose Snake Leioheterodon madagascarensi 1
Mealworm Tenebrio molitar 1000
Mexican Red Leg Tarantula Aphonopelum bicoloratum 1
Nelson’s Milksnake Lampropeltis triangulum nelso 1
Nile Monitor Lizard Varanus niloticus 1
Pacific Gopher Snake Pituophis catenifer catenifer 1
Prehensile-tailed Skink Corucia zebrata 1
Spiny Softshell Turtle Apalone spinifera 1
Spotted Salamander Ambystoma maculatum 1
Spotted Turtle Clemmys guttata 1
Sudan Plated Lizard Gerrhosaurus major 1
Tegu Lizard Tupinambis teguixin 1
Tokay Gecko Gekko gecko 1
Uromastyx Lizard Uromastyx acanthurus 1
Water Monitor Lizard Varanus salvator 1
White Line Gecko Gecko vittatus 1
Amazon River Turtle Podocnemis unifilis 1

S.O.S: Save our Snakes (from landscape netting)

Every year we get calls from gardeners about snakes trapped in their soft plastic landscape netting.  Landscape netting is often used to protect fruit and vegetables from nibbling deer, birds, and rabbits.  Unfortunately, it can be a death sentence to snakes, birds, and small mammals.

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Tony carefully restraining the first Copperhead while his coworker cuts away the netting

Small animals become trapped in the net and as they struggle to free themselves,  get even more tangled up.  The netting not only traps the poor animals, it also causes very serious injuries due to the thin plastic cutting into their skin and muscle.

If a human does not intervene, it is a long, slow and sad death for any trapped creature. Some animals are lucky – they are found and rescued.  Recently our very own TuataraTony was called upon to rescue two copperhead snakes that had become entangled in landscape netting in a garden in Great Falls VA.

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Tony (right) and his coworker helping to free the second trapped Copperhead Snake

Tony and other professional Naturalists, Wildlife Educators and Animal Rehabilitators are experts at handling all sorts of animals.  If you find a creature in need of rescue, contact your local animal control agency for help.

Alternatives for protecting crops do exist: Fences 8 feet tall or taller will protect areas from deer.  Using chicken wire, wire mesh, kennel fencing, or snow fencing attached to fence posts will protect against most animals, including rabbits.

If deer are your main problem, you might also consider an electric fence. Motion sensors that trigger a blast of water can scare off birds and other wildlife from fruit trees and bushes. And a good old fashioned scarecrow (especially if it has bright, shiny, moving parts) is always a festive addition to any garden.

Here are some great links for more suggestions on how to save your garden without hurting snakes or other wildlife:

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UPCOMING EVENTS

  1. Fall for Fairfax KIDSFEST with Reptiles Alive!

    September 30 @ 12:30 pm - 3:45 pm
  2. Showcase Event in Rockville

    October 2 @ 10:30 am - 10:45 am
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