15th Anniversery of Reptiles Alive! A Look Back…

Wildly Exciting.

That is how I describe the last 15 years.

In July 1996 I signed the documents and secured the permits and licenses to officially create a business that was then known as “The Reptile Lady.”

I had been working 3 separate jobs the past year, all at the same time:  park naturalist; zoo educator;  and snake removal technician.  And I was performing live reptile shows at schools, birthdays and other events on the side using non-releasable reptiles I received working as a wildlife rehabilitator.  WHEW!  That was a lot of work!

Since I was so into snakes and reptiles,  people starting calling me “the reptile lady.” In July, I decided to make it official.

I quit my three other jobs to focus exclusively on being “The Reptile Lady” full time.

At first,  I was a one person company.  I had a collection of about 20 animals including a boa constrictor named Franki Valli, a savanna monitor named Dion, and a tokay gecko named Freddie Boom Boom Cannon.  I had all the animals set up in a room that a friend helped me to remodel to accommodate the small zoo.  I spent every day answering the phone, caring for the animals, and performing the shows.

“The Reptile Lady” quickly became a very popular show.  In 1996 I performed 152 shows and reached approximately 4000 people.  I almost doubled that number 1997:  I did 267 shows and reached approximately 15, 550 people.   By 1998, it became obvious that I needed help to keep the business growing – I was now doing over 350 shows per year, caring for 30 exotic animals, and doing all of the office work.  It was tons of fun – but in order to grow, I had to hire some good people.

Since I was going to hire staff people, (and some of those people might be males who might not want to answer the phone by saying “Reptile Lady”) I decided to rename the business “Reptiles Alive! LLC”.

Next, I relocated the animals and business into a larger location that had lots of room for spacious animal enclosures, a nice cleaning area, storage, and office space.  I also built an out door tortoise enclosure.

And then the big step:  I hired the first two employees:  Jeff Streicher and Jennifer Pullen (now Rafter).  I was so lucky to have them!  Jeff and Jennifer proved to be just as dedicated to reptiles and wildlife education as I was.

Over the last 15 years, I have had the pleasure of working with many other great people.  Some of our former staff people are now working as field biologists, scientists, and one of our former keepers is now the Senior Keeper at the National Zoo Reptile Discovery Center.

We currently have a team of top notch wildlife educators and animal keeper.  They perform over 800 shows a year for an average of 60,000 people.  In addition, they care for a collection of approximately 60 animals including pythons, boas, alligators, monitor lizards and other amazing creatures.  And last but not least, the staff at RA also get to help with the glamorous work in our office.

Without our awesome staff and our awesome fans, Reptiles Alive would not be where we are today.  Thank you ALL!  And here’s to another sssspectacular 15 years of wildly exciting live animal shows with Reptiles Alive!

Ssssee you in 2026!

A Quick Trip to Calvert Cliffs

Aaaaah… Spring!  It was 80 degrees with a stiff breeze when my brother Hawksbill Will and his friend Yuko (who were both visiting from Hawaii) and I headed out for a day trip to Calvert Cliffs State Park.

starting-the-hike-225x300Calvert Cliffs State Park is located in Calvert County, MD along the western shore of the Chesapeake Bay.  The park features 13 miles of hiking trails, salt and freshwater marshes, a sandy beach, and fossils from ancient marine creatures.

The park also features an abundance of lizards, snakes, turtles, frogs, and salamanders — my kind of place!

It was the first really warm day in almost 2 weeks.  We encountered our first herps in the pond near the parking lot.  Loads of red-bellied slider turtles and eastern painted turtles were basking on logs in the warm sun.  As we hiked further along the trail, we came upon a large freshwater marsh that was filled with even more turtles.  It was like turtle nirvana!

how-many-turtles-300x225In the same marsh, we also saw a few of Maryland’s largest frog species, the American Bullfrog.

bullfrog-263x300We also found a few red-backed salamanders and saw five lined skinks and one fence lizard.

cv-and-bay-300x225Once we reached the Bay, we spent some time eating lunch and looking for fossils and sea shells.  The air was very warm, but the water was icy cold.  That did not stop my adventurous brother, though, he dove right in and went for a swim!!!  Burrrr!

 

Response to Proposed SENATE BILL NO. 477

The Commonwealth of Virginia will lose valuable resources currently offered to state and local animal and wildlife agencies, school systems, library systems, and the tourism industry, if SENATE BILL NO. 477 is passed.

An entire professional community of law abiding, tax paying Virginia citizens will be penalized due to the act of a single mentally ill individual in Ohio if the proposed code in SENATE BILL NO. 477 is passed.

As the founder and director of Reptiles Alive LLC, a successful outreach wildlife education organization, I currently provide jobs to four Virginia citizens and support my family with the income I earn in my professional endeavors.  I am not alone – there is an entire industry of tax paying, law-abiding Virginia citizens and their families who will be financially damaged if SENATE BILL NO. 477 is passed.

SENATE BILL NO. 477 will exempt organizations accredited by the American Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA). The majority of wildlife organizations, including mine, are not AZA accredited.  The AZA is a private association, a “club”, which has developed its own accreditation requirements without any public input or oversight. The requirements to become an accredited member in the AZA are unreasonable for most private organizations and family run businesses. Most AZA facilities are operated using tax dollars collected from state and county citizens.

I have been licensed by the Virginia Department of Game & Inland Fisheries (VDGIF) as a Wildlife Exhibitor and Wildlife Rehabilitator since 1993. During this time, my staff and I have presented educational live animal shows to approximately 850,000 people.  We receive no funding from state or local government agencies to educate the public about wildlife and other environmental issues – including most of the Virginia Standards of Learning (SOL’s) in Science. We are a self-sufficient environmental education organization and provide a tremendous educational resource to Virginia students, schools, and citizens.

The passage of SENATE BILL NO. 477 will be a huge loss for Virginia environmental education.Across the Commonwealth of Virginia, hundreds of thousands of students and other citizens are exposed, by non-AZA wildlife professionals, to environmental concepts deemed important by the Virginia Department of Education.  There is no way the handful of AZA member organizations in Virginia will be able to make up for the loss of the permitted Wildlife Exhibitors currently teaching environmental education in Virginia.

I have also offered my services, at no charge, to the VDGIF and various local animal control agencies. These free services have included:  providing housing for exotic reptiles involved in court cases; identification of exotic reptiles; removal of exotic reptiles from hotel rooms, abandoned and condemned buildings; assistance with husbandry of exotic reptiles in state or county custody; advice to animal control and VDGIF officers dealing with boids, venomous snakes and crocodilians; and finally, providing permanent, safe housing for reptiles that had no where else to go.

If  SENATE BILL NO. 477 is passed, it will not stop people from owning exotic animals, especially the snakes, listed in the proposal.  However, it will end the assistance the Commonwealth and local Virginia jurisdictions receive from many of the professionals who currently help with animal situations when needed.

AZA facilities will not make up for the loss of the non-AZA state licensed wildlife exhibitors and permitted animal rescue groups. AZA facilities rarely, if ever, take in “rescued” animals.  Private organizations including non-AZA zoos and wildlife exhibitors, licensed by the state, regularly assist in the placement of such animals.

At Reptiles Alive LLC, nearly all of the animals we have in our collection have to come us from local animal control agencies, game wardens, or citizens who no longer could provide care for their pet.  Outlawing the ownership of certain species (especially Boids) will not eliminate them from being privately kept in Virginia.  If these species are outlawed, the disposition options for unwanted or confiscated animals will be primarily limited to euthanasia.

I agree that the ownership of the species listed in SENATE BILL NO. 477 should be regulated – and the Commonwealth of Virginia already has such regulations successfully in place. As a state licensed Wildlife Exhibitor, each year I must submit to the VDGIF my: Permit to Exhibit Wild Animals application; list of species to be exhibited; annual wildlife exhibitor report; and a $50 fee.  An annual inspection of my facility along with the possibility of unannounced inspections from a state game warden is part of the conditions of my permit.  I carry a liability insurance policy and a Workers Compensation policy that covers the activities Reptiles Alive LLC engages in.

It will not cost the Commonwealth any additional taxpayer dollars to continue the permitting and wildlife enforcement process it already has in place.

The passing of SENATE BILL NO. 477 does not make sense for the Commonwealth of Virginia or its citizens.

Sincerely,

Caroline Seitz

Director/Owner

Reptiles Alive LLC

703 560-0257

reptilesalive@gmail.com

Epic Desert Road Trip Part 5: Petrified Forest National Park

Driving deeper into Arizona, we entered a fantastical landscape known as the Painted Desert.

driving-in-painted-desert-300x225
The Painted Desert is a vast area of Arizona that includes both Grand Canyon and Petrified Forest National Parks. Some people have described the landscape as rock rainbow, others have said it resembled a multi-colored, many layered cake. No matter what you prefer to compare it to, the colorful sediments and rocks combined with the Arizona sun create magnificent views.

painted-desert-panorama-300x83

In addition to the natural beauty, petroglyphs also decorate the rocks.

petroglyphs-293x300

As mysterious as the petroglyphs seem, there is an even stranger phenomenon found in the Painted Desert — a petrified forest of giant fallen trees.

will-on-petrified-log-300x225

The logs are actually a three dimensional representation of the original tree turned into stone.  They look totally real!!  Like you could burn them.  In fact, a lot of what was laying around the desert seemed as if someone had cut the logs and then split them into firewood.  But when you pick them up or touch them, you know you are not touching wood.  The “logs” are cold, hard, solid stone.

Next:  The Exciting Conclusion to our Epic Journey!

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UPCOMING EVENTS

  1. Eagle Festival at Mason Neck State Park

    May 11, 2019 @ 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
  2. FREE Public Reptiles Alive show in Locust Grove VA

    July 23, 2019 @ 3:00 pm - 3:45 pm
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

Had Reptile Alive for my son’s 5th birthday in October. The party was in Maryland. Paid the travel fee and the animals were there on time. The presenter was so nice et patient to my kids and his friends. She provided a lot of information and interacted very well with the crowd. She went beyond the show time and made sure my son had a good party. He loved it!! Loved the fact that he could hold most of the animals and that she even had some tasks for him!! I was very proud and I will recommend this company!! It was an awesome show!! Thank you!read more

Linda Nana

Linda Nana

14:55 11 Oct 18

Perfect birthday party for my son who loves snakes and reptiles of all kinds. Liz was engaging, enthusiastic and made the birthday boy feel super special. All the kids had a blast!read more

Hina Ullah

Hina Ullah

22:26 22 Oct 18

We had Reptiles Alive perform at my son’s 7th birthday party. It was a great show. Tony did a fantastic job relating to the kids, maintaining the right energy level and imparting knowledge as he displayed the animals. Additionally, it was just the right length for the age group. I’d highly recommend Reptiles Alive for an event.read more

Gage Parr

Gage Parr

15:04 03 Dec 18