Creature Feature: Haitian Brown Tarantula

Haitian Brown Tarantula

Phormictopus cancerides

Reptiles Alive Name:

Hissstory: Charlotte was transferred to us from another wildlife education organization in 2004.

RA Diet:
 Charlotte eats 1 or 2 crickets every couple of days.

Natural Diet: 
Tarantulas will eat insects, birds, lizards, and even small mammals.

 Haitian brown tarantulas naturally occur in Haiti, the Dominican Republic, Cuba, and other parts of the Caribbean .

Habitat: Haitian brown tarantulas enjoy hiding under rocks, in burrows,  and under debris.

Haitian brown tarantulas are big spiders – they sometimes grow 7 to 9 inches in diameter!

Lifespan: Male tarantulas may only live 18-24 months, but females can live much longer,  sometimes, over 20 years.

 Tarantulas construct a golf ball sized egg sac out of silk. The female tarantula will care for her eggs by turning the egg sac on a regular basis. One egg sac may contain over two thousand eggs.

 Tarantulas biggest threat is habitat destruction.  Human fear is also a danger to tarantulas, however, tarantulas rarely harm humans.  Like most wild animals, tarantulas actually fear humans, and will only bite as a defense.  Most species of tarantulas have venom that is no worse than bee venom, so, most tarantulas are harmless to people.

Cool Facts: 
Spider silk (the stuff spiders make into webs) is stronger than steel.  No, really, it’s true!  Scientists have been trying for years to manufacture enough spider silk to manufacture items such diverse items as clothing and cable to make bridges out of.    So far, no one has figured out how make enough spider silk to make anything other than a really expensive scarf.  But maybe someday you could be wearing spider clothes while driving over a spider bridge!

Creature Feature: Desert Kingsnake

Desert Kingsnake (aka California Kingsnake)

Lampropeltis getula californiae

Reptiles Alive Name: “Reno” and “Tahoe”

Hissstory: Reno was found slithering down a street in Annandale, VA – not his natural habitat!  He was either an escaped or abandoned pet, so we gave him a home.  Our albino desert kingsnake Tahoe was an unwanted pet that we adopted.


Reno the Desert Kingsnake

RA Diet: We feed our kingsnakes delicious and nutritious frozen and defrosted mice.

Natural Diet: Kingsnakes eat snakes, lizards, birds, eggs and rodents.

Range: Desert kingsnakes are found in California, Nevada, Arizona, Utah and Oregon.

Habitat: Desert kingsnakes may be found in rocky outcrops and clumps of vegetation in chaparral or desert environments.

Size: Desert kingsnakes grow 24-60 inches long.


Tahoe, the Albino Desert Kingsnake

Lifespan: Kingsnakes can live to be over 20 years old. 

Reproduction: Females lays 2-24 eggs which hatch in about 2 months.

Cool Facts: The kingsnake is the “king of snakes” because it will eat other snakes – even venomous rattlesnakes! Scientists believe kingsnakes have immunity to the venom of the rattlesnakes found in their own home range,  so the kingsnake can be bitten and envenomated with no ill effects.

Creature Feature: Superworms

Superworms (aka Darkling Beetles)

Zophobas morio



Reptiles Alive Name: Too many to name!

Hissstory: We purchase our superworms from an insect “farm” that caters to zoos and other animal related organizations.

RA Diet: Our superworms dine on oatmeal, whole wheat bread, greens and other veggies.

Natural Diet: Superworms will eat just about anything.

Range: Zophobas beetles are found in Tropical Central & South America.  (Beetles are found in every continent except Antarctica)

Habitat: They love to hide in rotting logs and leaves.

Size: Superworms can grow to 2 inches long and can be as thick as a pencil.

Lifespan: From egg to beetle, superworms have a total lifespan of about 1 year.

Reproduction: Female darkling beetles lay eggs, which hatch out into tiny, baby superworms. The superworms will molt many times as they grow.  After a few months of growing, they morph into a pupae form, (what I like to call the “alien stage”) and emerge as a black beetle called the darkling beetle.  Superworms will only morph into a pupae form if they are “stressed” such as lacking food and water. The larvae will turn into a pupae when food and water are scarce; a perfect time because pupae do not need to eat or drink. Then, the superworms emerge as beetles at a time when food and water are plentiful.

Conservation: As decomposers, superworms are extremely beneficial recyclers of organic material.   They are also a tasty treat for many animals and, even some humans!

Cool Facts: In many countries, superworms and mealworms are cooked and eaten by humans. They are healthy and a valuable source of protein. Taste a little like almonds. (No really, they are delicious.)

Creature Feature: Russian Tortoise

Russian Tortoise

Testudo horsfieldii

Reptiles Alive Name: “Russiano”

Hissstory: Russiano came to Reptiles Alive in May 2001 when his owner decided tortoises do not make good pets.

RA Diet: Grasses, leafy greens, veggies, and commercial zoo tortoise food pellets.

Natural Diet: Grasses, plants, and flowers.

Range: Central Asia:  Russian Kazakhstan, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Western China, and Iran.

 These hardy tortoises dwell in deserts and dry grasslands with sparse vegetation.

Size: Russian tortoises are relatively small tortoises.  They can grow up to about 8  inches long.

 As with many tortoises these can live over 50 years.


Russian tortoises breed soon after they emerge from hibernation. They lay 1-5 large eggs which hatch in 8-12 weeks.

 Most Russian tortoises sold as pets in the United States have been captured in the wild by commercial animal collectors and then sold into the pet trade.  Due to improper care, most pet tortoises suffer from a variety of diseases, bone deformities,  and many die from lack of care.

Cool Facts: Russian tortoises are great at tunneling and digging.  With their powerful arms and long, tough claws, they are able to dig burrows long enough and deep enough to survive the extreme heat and cold of the dry grasslands and deserts where they live.

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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