Creature Feature: Amaya Perez


Amaya Perez

Animal Keeper

Reptiles Alive Name: Amazing Alligator Amaya (aka Triple A)

Hissstory: Amaya got her Masters in Telecommunications Engineering in her native Pamplona, Spain.  Amaya’s adventures since migrating to the US in the summer of 2001  include performing research on different species of bats and working  as a  Keeper Aide at the National Zoo.  Amaya joined the Reptiles Alive! team in September 2010.

RA Diet: Leftovers or a frozen meal heated up in the super amazing RA microwave. That thing is on steroids!. Oh yeah, a coffee in the morning is a must.

Natural Diet: Even though Amaya’s natural diet is Mediterranean food, she loves to try new flavors.   She is the ultimate omnivore and will eat just about anything with gusto.

Range: “Amayas” or “Amaias” are most often found in the northern part of the Iberian Peninsula. They are a hardy and adaptable species and can now be found in several continents.

Habitat: You can regularly find Amaya roaming the wonderful natural parks in the DC metro area guiding her offspring and teaching them survival skills. Playgrounds are likely to produce sightings as well. When away from her offspring you can find Amaya at RA’s headquarters baby-talking to the animals or at the National Zoo coming up with fun and crafty enrichment ideas  in between cleaning and feeding.

Size: Amaya is about 5’7” and would rather not disclose her weight.

Lifespan: Amaya rarely gets a good night sleep so she is afraid years are being shaved off of her life. If sleeping patterns improve, Amaya could live up to 80 years or more.

Reproduction: Amazing Alligator Amaya has been mated for 10 years and has produced three rambunctious offspring with our very own Boa Brad.

Conservation: Amaya has always been in love with animals. Her biggest dreams when she was a little girl was going to Africa to be amongst some of the coolest animals on Earth and becoming a veterinarian.
Even though her background is in engineering her life has been dedicated to animals (including juvenile human primates) since her migration across the Atlantic.
Amaya enjoys caring for animals greatly and also loves sharing her knowledge and love for animals with the public when working at the zoo. Amaya also enjoys training animals and learning about animal behavior.

Cool Facts: Amaya has been an animal keeper since 2002 and has worked with a wide variety of non-reptilians. Amongst the creatures on her list are: lions, tigers, spectacled bears, sloth bears, giant pandas, gorillas, orangutans,Sulawesi macaques, gibbons, lemurs, coatis, caracals, servals and red pandas.
Amaya has only recently discovered how cool reptiles are and loves learning about them.
She has made it her mission to always soak the elderly animals in comforting warm baths at RA  every day she works.  Amaya also loves to hear Jeremiah the Bullfrog sing in happiness after she gives him a tasty treat.

Creature Feature: Brad Pratt

Brad Pratt

Animal Keeper & Wildlife Educator



Reptiles Alive Name: “Boa Brad; aka Showtastic”

Hissstory: Boa Brad was relocated to Reptiles Alive from a fish & water quality research project  in February 2010.

RA Diet: Brad enjoys eating  packed lunches of leftovers or a delicious sammie.

Natural Diet: Greens, meats, processed human food.

Range: Boa Brad has lived in Vermont, New York, Virginia, Italy and Spain.

Habitat: You can find Boa Brad working in the animal rooms at Reptiles Alive HQ, or out in the field performing live reptile shows at birthdays, scout meetings, schools, and all kinds of events.  He also enjoys forays into wild areas for hiking and outdoor fun.

Size: Brad has reached a total length of 6’1″.

Lifespan: Boa Brad could live to 90  years or more.

Reproduction: Boa Brad has been mated for 10 years and has produced three offspring.

Conservation: In addition to working at Reptiles Alive, Boa Brad is currently attending George Mason University and is working towards graduating with a Masters of Science degree in Environmental Science. His long term goals include studying the effects of toxic chemicals in the environment to help in the conservation of endangered habitats.

Cool Facts: As the Lead Animal Keeper at Reptiles Alive, Boa Brad is in charge of the daily care and feeding of more than 50 different animals.  Brad enjoys working with the animals on such a personal level.  He has even come up with theme songs for some of them.  For example, when he works with Janis the leopard tortoise, he thinks of “Low Rider” by the band War and when he sees Major Gary the plated lizard, he thinks of Joe Walsh singing “Life’s Been Good to Me So Far.”

As a Wildlife Educator, Brad combines the skills he learned as an English teacher along with his funny, easy going personality. Children and adults laugh out loud during his fun programs.  Boa Brad lovesssssss reptiles and hopes you will too!

Exciting New Job for Jennifer Rafter

Posting by Caroline Seitz

Jennifer Rafter was one of the first staff members of Reptiles Alive.  She started in 1999 and has been an important part of our team ever since.  Caring for our animals, rehabilitating injured wildlife, and presenting awesome live animal shows were all part of her contribution here.

Jennifer has moved on from Reptiles Alive to become the Aquarium Curator at the Delmarva Discovery Center. It is a brand new museum in Pocomoke MD that showcases the culture and natural history of the Delmarva Peninsula with a focus on the Pocomoke River.

I had the chance to visit Jen at her new job last week – and I am SO EXCITED for her.  The Discovery Center is fabulous.  The cultural exhibits are up and they are very good.  Children and adults will enjoy the various interactive displays and hands-on activities the center offers.  But the best is soon to come…

A 7,000 gallon aquarium was just installed and Jen is spending all her time getting it sealed, plumbed, and working.  It takes A LOT of work to get an aquarium of that size up and running.  It took almost 12 hours just to the aquarium through the Center’s doors and installed in the display area!

The Pocomoke City Fire Department was called to fill the aquarium for its first water test.  After the test, the tank was drained so that concrete features such as fallen trees and branches can be added.  After the plumbing and concrete work is done, the fire department will re-fill the aquarium.

Jen will then spend time cycling the water to prepare it for the fish.  Live bass, catfish and other fish found in the Pocomoke River will be featured in the aquarium, but the star attraction will be the sturgeon.

In addition to the large aquarium, the Discovery Center also has touch tanks that allow visitors to touch animals such as snails, horseshoe crabs and more.  Jen will also be adding live reptile and amphibian displays.

Special events such as a Haunted Halloween tour, lectures, art classes and other fun activities are offered at the Center.  Activities adjacent to the Center include a special Pocomoke River boat cruise tour, a boardwalk trail through a naturally occurring cypress swamp, and shopping at art galleries and boutiques in the beautiful town of Pocomoke.  Of course you can also visit Chincoteague, VA, Ocean City, MD and Assateague National Seashore which are all about 30 minutes away.

I am sad to see her go – but I am so excited for her too!  Jen’s new home and new job are really awesome and I know she is going to have a great time.  I urge anyone who visits the Eastern Shore to visit the Delmarva Discovery Center and say hello to Jen.


My Interview with Reptiles Alive Director

 This posting is from a recent email we received:

“One of my students has seen you at our school for an assembly and wanted to include info about you and your reptiles in the magazine he is creating as a classroom project –  He would be thrilled to hear from you.”

My Interview with Reptiles Alive Director Caroline Seitz

Q: What is the most common reptile in Virginia ?

A:Hmmm, that is a tough question.  Black racer snakes, black rat snakes, garter snakes, ringneck snakes, brown snakes, worm snakes, and northern water snakes are all very common.  Also, snapping turtles, painted turtles, and five lined skink lizards too.

Q: What do you like more, lizards or snakes?

A:  I love them both!

Q: What habitat do most reptiles live in?

A:  You can find reptiles every where on Earth except Antarctica and Ireland.  They live in forests, deserts, gasslands, and wetlands.  Even in the ocean.  It is hard to say where “most” reptiles live.

Q: What is the most deadliest lizard?

A:  There are reports of Komodo monitor lizards, Gila monster and beaded lizards killing people after they were bitten.  However, the reports are very few and very hard to verify – so in general, I think that lizards are not very deadly.

Q: What is the most deadliest snake?

A:  Many Australian snakes, like the taipan and brown snake, are highly venomous.  The African puff adder and Indian Russell’s viper probably kill the most people, however, because they live in areas where there are lots of people who walk in bare feet and there is not very good medical care.

Q: What is your favorite reptile?

A:  I love them all!

Q: What do you feed most of your reptiles?

A:  Our insectivores eat live crickets, giant mealworms, giant cockroaches and earth worms.  Our herbivores mostly eat home grown veggies like dandelions, collard greens, kale, bok choy, and more.  Our carnivores eat mostly frozen and then defrosted mice and rats.

Q: How many reptiles can you think of?

A:There are about:  27 kinds of crocodilians, 900 kinds of turtles, 6000 lizards, 3000 snakes, 2 tuataras, and maybe 10 amphisbeanians.

Q: How many reptiles do you personally own?

A: I personally own one cat named Mr. Shadow Kitty Berrow.

Q: What is the most rarest reptile in Virginia?

A: Maybe the Northern Pine Snake.

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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