Creature Feature: SidewinderStephen


Stephen Maddox

Animal Keeper


Reptiles Alive Name: SidewinderStephen

Hisstory: After spending his childhood roaming the swamps in southeastern Virginia, SidewinderStephen decided to study biology at James Madison University.  After graduation, he relocated to the DC area and started working as an invasive plant control technician.  He applied for the Reptiles Alive Animal Keeper position and was hired to work with us in April 2013.

RA Diet: Dried fruits and whatever else he is able to forage for in his fridge in the morning before work.

Natural Diet: SidewinderStephen’s favorite food is Mexican – especially burritos, MUY DELICIOSO! He also enjoys anything that comes off a grill.

Range: SidewinderStephen grew up in swamp in southeastern Virginia called Poquouson. He then migrated to the mountains of Virginia to attend James Madison University. He now resides in Northern Virginia where he enjoys working with all the cool RA animals.

Habitat: Preferring the Blue Ridge Mountains where it is nice and cool, SidewinderStephen spends much of his time along river banks searching for fish.

Size: SidewinderStephen is 5’10” with an awesome beard that makes him seem even larger!

Lifespan: SidewinderStephen could live to 90 years or more.

Reproduction: At home, SidewinderStephen is currently raising a little leopard gecko named Betty.

Conservation: On the days that SidewinderStephen is not taking care of the RA animals, he can be found in the woods hunting down and removing exotic invasive plant species from our local parks and natural areas. The conservation of nature for future generations is SidewinderStephen’s greatest goal – he wants future generations to be as moved by nature as he was.

Cool Facts: While attending James Madison, SidewinderStephen spent a spring-break vacation taking a class in the Bahamas to study carbonate deposition in coral reef ecosystems. He has also spent time on various rivers, from the calm James River in Virginia to the raging Colorado in the Grand Canyon.



Creature Feature: Tony Bulmer

Tony Bulmer
Wildlife Educator


Tony with Starlight

 Reptiles Alive Name: “Tuatara Tony”

Hissstory: Tuatara Tony has been with Reptiles Alive LLC almost from our very beginning back in the nineties! Which makes him closely related to dinosaurs. Listen closely for his grunts and groans as he lifts some of our heavier reptile friends.

RA Diet: Tony enjoys eating red meat and corn nuts. He also never turns down pizza from birthday party hosts.

Natural Diet: Grilled anything and watermelon.

Range: Tuatara Tony grew up on the salt marshes of Southern Connecticut. He was relocated to Northern Virginia after a spell in the United States Air Force.

Habitat: You can find Tony the Tautara cruising the beltway with a truck full of reptiles. When not working for Reptiles Alive, visit him at Ellanor C. Lawrence Park where he is the naturalist in charge of Programs. If not in the building, he is deep in the woods somewhere locating native reptiles and amphibians.

Size: Tony has reached a total length of 5’10 and has a fluctuating waist line.

Lifespan: Tuatara Tony  could live to 90 years or more. (Depending on how many corn nuts he eats.)

Reproduction: Tuatara Tony has been mated for 12 years to Darlene and is the proud parent of three children.

Conservation: In addition to working at Reptiles Alive, Tuatara Tony is currently a Naturalist at Ellanor C. Lawrence Park in Chantilly, Virginia. He has a degree in Parks and Recreation and loves protecting the environment. His long-term goal is to stay in the woods permanently.

Cool Facts: As a wildlife educator Tony can talk about critters for days. While he loves reptiles and amphibians he is equally versed in mammals and birds. When asked why he does so well with birthday parties for Reptiles Alive he says, “I have three children, need I say more.”

S.O.S: Save our Snakes (from landscape netting)

Every year we get calls from gardeners about snakes trapped in their soft plastic landscape netting.  Landscape netting is often used to protect fruit and vegetables from nibbling deer, birds, and rabbits.  Unfortunately, it can be a death sentence to snakes, birds, and small mammals.


Tony carefully restraining the first Copperhead while his coworker cuts away the netting

Small animals become trapped in the net and as they struggle to free themselves,  get even more tangled up.  The netting not only traps the poor animals, it also causes very serious injuries due to the thin plastic cutting into their skin and muscle.

If a human does not intervene, it is a long, slow and sad death for any trapped creature. Some animals are lucky – they are found and rescued.  Recently our very own TuataraTony was called upon to rescue two copperhead snakes that had become entangled in landscape netting in a garden in Great Falls VA.


Tony (right) and his coworker helping to free the second trapped Copperhead Snake

Tony and other professional Naturalists, Wildlife Educators and Animal Rehabilitators are experts at handling all sorts of animals.  If you find a creature in need of rescue, contact your local animal control agency for help.

Alternatives for protecting crops do exist: Fences 8 feet tall or taller will protect areas from deer.  Using chicken wire, wire mesh, kennel fencing, or snow fencing attached to fence posts will protect against most animals, including rabbits.

If deer are your main problem, you might also consider an electric fence. Motion sensors that trigger a blast of water can scare off birds and other wildlife from fruit trees and bushes. And a good old fashioned scarecrow (especially if it has bright, shiny, moving parts) is always a festive addition to any garden.

Here are some great links for more suggestions on how to save your garden without hurting snakes or other wildlife:

Creature Feature: Rachel Walker

Rachel Walker

Wildlife Educator and Animal Keeper


Reptiles Alive Name: Rockin’ Reptile Rachel

Hisstory: Rockin’ Reptile Rachel grew up in Northern Virginia and in 2003 left to attend Clemson University in South Carolina.  While on summer break in 2005, Rockin’ Reptile Rachel took the position of Lead Animal Keeper at Reptiles Alive.  As one who enjoys challenges and is an extremely fast learner, Rockin’ Reptile Rachel began performing shows for Reptiles Alive during that very same summer. Enjoying the fast paced atmosphere, Rachel began working for Reptiles Alive full time in January of 2007 and has thrived ever since.

RA Diet: Rachel likes to feed on leftovers and peanut butter sandwiches. Yum!

Natural Diet: Rockin’ Reptile Rachel prefers a diet of fruits, veggies, and the occasional meat and dairy.  She eats as many locally supplied foods as possible and hopes one day to grow her own vegetables in her garden.

Range: Rockin’ Reptile Rachel has a very broad range.  She was born in Jackson, MS and then swiftly moved to Philippines with her pack until she was 2 years old.  Her pack then settled in Northern Virginia where she has resided ever since.  She temporarily expanded her range in 2003 back south while attending Clemson University in South Carolina.  These days you can find her all over the DC Metro Area doing animal shows or even traveling the world!

Habitat: You can find Rockin’ Reptile Rachel caring for the animal collection at Reptiles Alive HQ, out on the road heading to an animal show, or traveling the world by planes, trains, automobiles and her own two feet.  When she is not entertaining and educating the public with Reptiles Alive, her preferred habitat is to be in the wild or curled up on the couch with her fur-child, Frank-the-dog.

Size: Rachel has reached her maximum height at 5’9”.  Width may vary.

Lifespan: Rockin’ Reptile Rachel could live to 90 years or more!

Reproduction: Rockin’ Reptile Rachel adopted and is raising one fur-child named Frank-the-dog.  She may breed in the future but has yet to find a suitable mate.

Conservation: Since Rockin’ Reptile Rachel was a small child she has had a passion for animals and a great interest in public education.  She would speak to anyone who would listen about the most recent animal facts she had learned.  She has not gone too far from those days in working for Reptiles Alive. Rockin’ Reptile Rachel’s passion for animals and love of children allows her to present very exciting and educational shows that people of all ages are bound to enjoy. Her high energy and witty demeanor is sure to wow your audience!

Cool Facts: Rockin’ Reptile Rachel also has a passion for studying animals in the field. She traveled to remote regions of South Africa during a two-month summer expedition called Vets-In-The-Wild where she assisted wildlife veterinarians in exciting and often dangerous conservation attempts and medical procedures. Forgoing a “normal” college Spring Break, Rachel also traveled to the interior of the Amazon Rainforest with a study abroad program designed to study the Tropical Biology of the Peruvian Rainforest.  Her most recent travels have taken her to remote areas of Belize and Guatemala where she traveled for pleasure and to assist a wildlife trade school and zoo.

Where will her passion for animals lead her next?  Maybe to your school, camp, or even home!

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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 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