Meet RA’s New Animal Keeper: Dragon Trainer Alice

Meet RA’s New Animal Keeper: Dragon Trainer Alice

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Alice Lovett

Lead Animal Keeper

Reptiles Alive Name: Dragon Trainer Alice

Hisstory: Dragon Trainer Alice’s past is filled with education. She graduated from  the University of Colorado, Boulder with a degree in Psychology in 2016 and started working as the Animal Keeper at RA in 2018.

RA Diet: Dragon Trainer Alice is easily sustained on a diet of leftovers, hot dogs, and tuna salad sandwiches.

Natural Diet: Dragon Trainer Alice, like many large reptiles, is omnivorous but greatly prefers meats over plants. She has a sweet spot for unusual and exotic fruits, like lychee, quince, and mangosteen, and she enjoys asparagus and artichokes. You will never see her chowing down on beef, though–her diet consists mainly of birds and fish.

Range: Dragon Trainer Alice was originally found in Texas, but was relocated several times until she was introduced to her long-term habitat in the foothills of Colorado. She has been spotted in Italy, Greece, Canada, and Mexico, and just recently, her primary range has been relocated to Northern Virginia and parts of Maryland.

Habitat: Dragon Trainer Alice is a shy and reclusive species, sighted mainly indoors with her close friends or a computer, but she also can be seen on shady nature trails, looking for insects near creeks and streams, and happily searching for new reading material at the library.

Size: Dragon Trainer Alice is small, at 5’0”, but mighty enough to defend her territory.

Lifespan: Dragon Trainer Alice is still young, and is expected to live for at least another 50-60 years.

Reproduction: Dragon Trainer Alice is unlikely to reproduce, but she acts as a parent to all the reptiles under her care at Reptiles Alive!

Conservation: From the time she was very young, Dragon Trainer Alice enjoyed learning about animals and was quick to help them out. She was known to pick up worms from the sidewalk after a rain and place them on dirt patches where they could burrow down and not dry out. In second grade, she designed a boat that would rescue and treat injured marine life for a class project, and she is always quick to offer facts about even the tiniest or most unusual creatures when prompted.

Cool Facts: Dragon Trainer Alice is particularly interested in the study and captive care of insects, and owns a small colony of Formica sp. ants. She is also an artist who occasionally references the reptiles she works with in order to draw more realistic and interesting dragons!

Job Opening: Animal Keeper – Position now FILLED

Job Opening:  Animal Keeper – Position now FILLED

Reptiles Alive LLC, located in Annandale VA,  is looking to hire a reliable, responsible and energetic professional to care for a collection of non-venomous reptiles, amphibians, and invertebrates.

This is a permanent, part time (20-30 hours per week) position requiring the employee to work 3 weekdays per week.


Duties Will Include:

-Handling non-venomous reptiles, amphibians, and invertebrates

-Cleaning animal enclosures

-Preparing animal food and feeding the animals

-Record keeping & light office work

-General cleaning of animal and office areas



Applicants must be highly responsible and able to work without supervision caring for a diverse collection of live exotic animals.

Ability to lift 40 pounds and work a physically active job for 8 hours per day.

Preferred candidates will have experience with and knowledge about reptile husbandry.

Successful candidate will have a clean criminal background and driving record check.


Pay starting at $15 per hour based on experience.

Please email your cover letter, resume, and 3 references to:

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Creature Feature: Boa Constrictors

Boa Constrictor

Boa constrictor

Reptiles Alive Names: “Cinco & Sunglow (the albino)”

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Cinco the boa constrictor sporting a ‘stache.


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Sunglow the albino boa constrictor

Hisssstory: Cinco was an unwanted pet that was left with the Alexandria Animal Welfare League’s animal shelter and then we adopted him. Sunglow came to us from a citizen who no longer wanted to care for her.

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

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

 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: Boa constrictors grow to an average length of 6 – 9 feet and have been know to grow to over 12 feet long. The anaconda, which is related to boa constrictors, is considered one of the largest snakes in world and can grow to more than 20 feet!

Reproduction: Females give live birth of up to 50 babies at a time.  One of the big differences between boas and pythons is that boas give birth to live young and pythons lay eggs.

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

 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 not found at the local grocery store!  Boas are not a great 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.

5 Easy Steps to Help a Turtle Cross the Road

5 Easy Steps to Help a Turtle Cross the Road

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Here at Reptiles Alive, we often get asked about how to help turtles that are in the middle of a road.  Although this may seem like a simple question, let’s break the answer down to 5 easy steps.

  1.  Determine how SAFE the road is for YOU to be in it!  Seriously, do not risk your life or the lives of other drivers by going into the middle of a busy highway.  If the road is safe enough for you to pull over and/or walk into the road, then…
  2.  Look at the DIRECTION the turtle is walking.  This is where the turtle wants to go.  Turtles have a mind of their  own and they know their own area or territory.  The turtle has a reason for crossing the road, we’re just going to help it along.
  3. Pick the turtle up CAREFULLY. Keep fingers and body parts away from the turtle’s head (they can bite) and support the turtle using both hands to pick up from the top and support underneath. Please note, if the turtle is large or you think it is a snapping turtle, do not attempt to handle the turtle.  Either use a shovel or broom to “encourage” the turtle to move across the road or call the animal control department of the county you are in.
  4. Walk the turtle IN THE DIRECTION IT WAS HEADED to the other side of the road above any curb and gently set it down.
  5. Say buh-bye to the turtle and then WASH YOUR HANDS.  All animals, including turtles, can have bacteria on their skin that on occasion can cause illness in humans.

Now let’s talk about what NOT to do.

  1. Do not relocate the turtle to another area.  Turtles have territories where they know where the water sources, food sources, and hibernation sites are located. If you move the turtle to another location it may not survive because of dehydration, starvation, or hypothermia.
  2. Do not relocate the turtle to another area.  New, emerging diseases are being found in certain turtle populations in North America and if you move a turtle, you may spread diseases which can kill other turtles.
  3. Do not relocate the turtle to your home.  Although adorable, turtles are wild animals. They have very special captive care requirements and most do not survive being kept as a pet.  Those that do survive captivity can live 80 or more years!  And if you get tired of caring for your turtle pet (who won’t snuggle or play Frisbee with you) you cannot release it back to wild because – SEE ABOVE.
  4. Do not relocate the turtle to your home.  Turtle populations are in trouble.  Because turtles have such a slow reproductive rate, every adult turtle in a population counts.  By removing a turtle, you could be damaging an entire turtle population.