Help Name the Newest RA Animal Star

Help Name the Newest RA Animal Star

A new animal has joined our animal star team – a gray banded king snake!  This handsome animal was donated to us a few months ago and is about to leave quarantine to begin work as a Reptiles Alive education animal.  One more thing needs to happen, however, before he can start meeting people – he needs a NAME!

We want YOUR HELP in choosing his name.  Read his description below and think of a name befitting such an awesome animal.  Comment below or email the name to us at

Keep in mind we want a name that somehow relates to this snake’s natural history, geographical range, or any special features.  A coolness or cuteness factor is also great!  Read the description below and SEND IN YOUR NAME SUGGESTIONS!

Gray-banded Kingsnake

(Lampropeltis alterna)

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Reptiles Alive Name: YOU DECIDE!

Hissstory: This handsome snake was donated to us from a friend of Reptiles Alive.

RA Diet: Frozen/thawed mice.

Natural Diet:  Lizards are the favorite food of gray-banded kings in the wild. They will also dine on rodents, eggs, and other snakes, including venomous rattlesnakes! They catch their prey by biting first and then wrapping around and constricting, just like a boa or python.

Range: Gray-banded kingsnakes are found in the deserts of southwestern Texas, southern New Mexico and northern Mexico.

Habitat: Dry rocky areas and hillsides in the Trans-Pecos/Chihuahuan desert range is where gray-banded kingsnakes like to hang out. They are primarily nocturnal and can often be seen crossing desert roads after dark.

Size: These are medium sized snakes – they average around 3 feet long.

Lifespan: Like many snakes, gray-banded kingsnakes have an average lifespan of 30 years.

Reproduction: Gray-banded kingsnakes lay clutches of 3-13 leathery eggs in early summer.  As with most snakes, the female abandons the eggs after laying them. When the eggs hatch approximately 9 weeks later, the hatchlings are about 10 inches in length.  Although small, they already know how to catch prey and elude predators.

Conservation: The unregulated take of gray-banded kingsnakes by commercial and private collectors has caused this species to become threatened in many parts of its range.  Some snake collectors will destroy the habitat of the snakes (and other species) while searching for them.  Luckily, most gray-banded kingsnakes available in the pet trade today are being captive bred, so the wild populations have less pressure from collectors. And states such as New Mexico have protected gray-banded kingsnakes and have a recovery plan in place to help this awesome snake species.

Cool Facts: Gray-banded kingsnakes are super popular with snake enthusiasts for a variety of reasons including their incredible beauty.  They come in many different colors and patterns – some are almost all gray while others are more orange and/or red.



Sssummer is Ssspectacular at Reptiles Alive!


Summer is a toad-ally busy time of year at Reptiles Alive.  Each year we present approximately 800 shows, and almost half of those are presented in June, July, and August.  Why are we so much busier in the summer?  Well, while most small businesses get a bit of a break in the “lazy” days of summer, we go wild with summer camps, library shows, and all kinds of special summer events.  During the school year, schools and daycare centers have 9 months to schedule special enrichment visits.  During the summer however, summer camps, summer library reading programs, and summer family events only last for 6-8 weeks! For Reptiles Alive, that means we need our staff to be all hands on deck and fully ready to engage (and entertain and educate).

And we LOVE it.

Summer is not without challenges however.  Starting with traffic.  Ugh, the hardest part of performing shows for Reptiles Alive is just getting to them!  Traffic in the DC area is notorious for being bad, but the biggest challenge is its unpredictability.  In the summer, it can be especially frustrating on weekends heading for shows south on I-95, west on I-66, north on I-495, and oh, who am I kidding – traffic is awful everywhere around here.  But RA Wildlife Educators are experienced and know to give plenty of extra time drive time to get to their shows. Nonetheless,  driving to the shows is often the most stressful aspect of working at Reptiles Alive.

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Even turtles think the DC area traffic is too slow.

Summer also means presenting shows outdoors.  Aaaah, the great outdoors are not always so great, especially for performing a show.  Biting insects, sudden storms, heat and brutal humidity combine to create rough conditions for any performer.  We take extra care to make sure our animals stay comfortable – we require shade for the animals in order to perform outside shows.  The Wildlife Educator, however, has the unique experience of presenting a high-energy show to keep the attention of audiences that usually include very young children in a hot, humid environment while handling large and sometimes wiggly animals.  It really does take a special kind of person to become a part of our Reptiles Alive team.

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Bearded dragons love the hot summer sun!

One of the best parts of summer at Reptiles Alive is performing public shows at special summer events and summer reading programs at libraries. Moms and Dads are always on the lookout for fun and FREE family entertainment and many of the events where we perform at are toad-ally free!  Although it is already July, we still have more than 30 public shows coming up this summer. These shows are open to the public and are being held at libraries and events throughout the DC/Maryland/Virginia area. It is usually a good idea to check with the host or venue of the event or library before heading out to the show, so be sure to visit our public events page for show dates, times, directions, and contact information.

And our most favorite part of summer?  Getting to meet so many awesome RA fans! Hope to sssssee you at our next show!


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RA Wildlife Educator LizardLiz delights an audience of all ages at a public event earlier this summer.


Creature Feature: Pumpkin the Pueblan Milk Snake

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Pueblan Milk Snake

Lampropeltis triangulum campbelli

Reptiles Alive Name: Pumpkin

Hisssstory: Pumpkin was an unwanted pet that was donated to us.

RA Diet: Pumpkin eats 1 frozen mouse that is thawed and warmed once per week.

Natural Diet: In the wild, milk snakes will eat rodents, lizards, eggs, and even other snakes – including rattlesnakes!

Range: Pueblan milk snakes are native to southern Mexico, including parts of Puebla, Morelos, and Oaxaca.

Habitat: The natural habitat of the Pueblan milk snake is varied – they can be found in tropical woodlands, rocky areas, farmlands and in urban environments as well.

Size: Pueblan milk snakes reach a length of 2-4 feet.

Lifespan: Pueblan milk snakes live an average of 20 years.

Reproduction: Female Pueblan milk snakes lay 2-14 eggs annually. Like most snakes, after laying her eggs, the female leaves and does not guard the eggs or care for the babies.  When the babies hatch, they instinctively know how to survive.

Conservation Issues: Many people falsely believe that all brightly colored snakes are venomous, however brightly colored milk snakes are non-venomous and completely harmless to humans.  This confusion sometimes leads to the unnecessary killing of milk snakes. It is important for people to leave all snakes alone – whether they are venomous or not.

Cool Facts: The old poem “red touches yellow kills a fellow, red  on black is ok Jack” is a FALSE and misleading way to identify venomous vs non-venomous snakes.  There are around 3000 different species of snakes that come in all colors and patterns.  There is no quick and easy way to identify which snakes are venomous or not.  It takes years of experience working with and learning about snakes to reliably identify them. So, unless you are snake nerd, when you encounter a snake, remember this poem written by CobraCaroline:

Red touch yellow, stay away fellow
Red touch black, just stay back
No matter what color you see, just let snakes be


Spring Changes at Reptiles Alive!

We are having a spring full of changes here at Reptiles Alive LLC.  We are welcoming some great new animals into our animal star collection and a great new animal keeper to help care for our critters – new and old.

Coming out of quarantine this month are two new snakes:  Sunglow the albino boa constrictor and Pumpkin the Pueblan milk snake.  At Reptiles Alive LLC we quarantine our new animals for at least 3 months before taking them to public events.  During this time, the new animals are given thorough health checks and evaluated for temperament.  We want to be sure the animals we bring to our education programs are healthy and relaxed before we take them out into public.  Look for Sunglow and Pumpkin to begin starring in shows this month.

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Pumpkin the Pueblan Milk Snake

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Sunglow the albino Boa Constrictor


We also received two new animals that will be starting their quarantine period.  A young tegu lizard and an American toad have just joined our collection.  We have named the new toad “Toad Truck” and are thinking of naming the tegu “Alex” since we adopted him from the Alexandria Animal Welfare League (AWLA).

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Toad Truck the American Toad

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Keeper LizardLiz with Alex the Tegu

Joanne Fujito, a full-time animal nurse at Southpaws Emergency Veterinary Clinic, has joined our animal keeper staff as a back up keeper. Jo brings with her a tremendous amount of experience caring for and handing all kinds of animals and we are very excited to have her assisting in the care of the Reptiles Alive animals.

On sad note, we said a final goodbye to a long time animal team member.  Our water monitor lizard Splash was euthanized at the beginning of the month because of severe arthritis.  He was at least 15 years old- possibly older. We received him from the AWLA back in 2006 when he was found stuck in a drain pipe in Old Town Alexandria, VA.  He was very curious, intelligent, and had a great personality.  All of the RA staff that met him have a special place in their heart for this awesome lizard. Splash – you will be missed.

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Goodbye old buddy



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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 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 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