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.


Caroline Seitz


Reptiles Alive LLC

703 560-0257


Epic Desert Road Trip Part 5: Petrified Forest National Park

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

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.


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


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


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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  1. Leesburg Flower & Garden Festival Reptiles Alive Show

    April 21 @ 11:00 am - 11:45 am
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    May 12 @ 11:15 am - 5:00 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