Reptiles Alive LLC 2011 Annual Wildlife Exhibitor Report

Wow – what a ssspectacular year we have had here at Reptiles Alive LLC.  Between September 30, 2010 thru October 1, 2011  we performed 857 educational live animal shows for approximately 55, 500 people of all ages.

As always, we had great fun at all the venues we traveled to including:  schools, libraries, birthday parties, scout meetings, libraries, camps, nature centers, animal shelters, senior centers, and tons of  fairs, festivals, and special events.

We added two new animals to our collection this year.  A Pacific gopher snke we named “Carl Spackler” was donated to us by a former staff member and an anerythristic corn snake we name “Anakin” was an unwanted pet that we were able to provide a home to.  Both animals were quarantined for 3 months while we assessed their health, but now, both snakes are a permanent part of our education collection.

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Carl Spackler the Gopher Snake

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Anakin the Anerythristic Corn Snake

Look for the Gopher snake to star in our “Deserts Alive!” show and for the anerythristic corn snake to help you find out the special secret of the black rat snake in our “Backyards Alive!”show.

Two of our animals passed away this year.  Mr. Pituophis (aka Vader) the Bull snake and our little buddy Schneider the Schneider’s skink.  We loved both of them.  Mr. Pituophis was a big bluffer:  he would huff and puff and hiss, but he was so tame that he was used in making videos with actors who were afraid of snakes!   Schneider was so personable and seemed to always love the attention from our keepers and other people too.  What a great lizard!  We miss them both very much.

Reptiles Alive LLC 2011 Animal Inventory

Common Name Scientific Name Qty
African Spurred Tortoise Geochelone sulcata 1
American Alligator Alligator missipiensis 2
American Toad Bufo americanus americanus 2
Ball Python Python regius 1
Bearded Dragon Pogona vitticeps 1
Blue Tongue Skink Teliqua scincoides 2
Boa Constrictor Boa constrictor constrictor 2
Bull Frog Rana catesbeiana 2
Burmese Python Python molurus bivittatus 3
California King Snake Lampropeltis getula californiae 2
Central Asian Tortoise Testudo horsefieldi 1
Cope’s Gray Treefrog Hyla chrysoscelis 3
Crested Gecko Rhacodactylus ciliatus 1
Corn Snake Pantherophis guttatus 2
Earthworm Eisenia fetida 25+
Eastern Box Turtle Terrapene carolina carolina 1
Eastern Rat Snake Pantherophis obsoletus 1
Eastern Snapping Turtle Chelydra serpintena serpentina 1
Garden Slug Limax maximus 5
Green Iguana Iguana iguana 2
Haitian Brown Tarantula Phormictophis cancerides 1
Haitian Cockroach Blaberus sp. 25 +
Honduran Milk Snake Lampropeltis triangulum hon 2
House Cricket Acheta domestica 1000
Kenyan Sand Boa Eryx colubrinus loveridgei 1
Leopard Gecko Eublepharis macularius 1
Leopard Tortoise Geochelone pardalis 1
Madagascar Hissing Cockroaches Gromphadorina portentosa 25+
Malagasy Giant Hognose Snake Leioheterodon madagascarensi 1
Mealworm Tenebrio molitar 1000
Mexican Red Leg Tarantula Aphonopelum bicoloratum 1
Nelson’s Milksnake Lampropeltis triangulum nelso 1
Nile Monitor Lizard Varanus niloticus 1
Pacific Gopher Snake Pituophis catenifer catenifer 1
Prehensile-tailed Skink Corucia zebrata 1
Spiny Softshell Turtle Apalone spinifera 1
Spotted Salamander Ambystoma maculatum 1
Spotted Turtle Clemmys guttata 1
Sudan Plated Lizard Gerrhosaurus major 1
Tegu Lizard Tupinambis teguixin 1
Tokay Gecko Gekko gecko 1
Uromastyx Lizard Uromastyx acanthurus 1
Water Monitor Lizard Varanus salvator 1
White Line Gecko Gecko vittatus 1
Amazon River Turtle Podocnemis unifilis 1

A Toadally Awesome Night

Posting by CobraCaroline

Bats, toads and salamanders — oh my!  And don’t forget worms!

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Naturalist Ethan Demontrates Worm Handling Technique

A small group of Reptiles Alive staff and friends, along with budding herpetologist Ethan, set off on an adventure of amphibian proportions last weekend.

Tuatara Tony, who is also a naturalist with Fairfax County,  arranged for us to have access to a western Fairfax, VA park after dark, so we headed out into the woods around 6 pm.  It was a bit cool with temperatures in the mid 50′s.  The largest full moon in years was also set to rise, so we a were unsure of how successful our herp search would be.

As we headed into the darkening woods, young Ethan was delighted and excited with each and every earthworm we discovered.  Ants and small spiders also caught his attention and he was sure to point out to each of us any small invertebrate we failed to mention as we carefully lifted logs and rocks.

We found a few small red-backed salamanders under the logs, but no spotted salamanders which we were hoping for.

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Red-backed Salamander – unstriped or “lead-back” color phase

We found a small vernal pool near the edge of the woods and Ethan saw his first mating pair of toads.

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American Toads

As we headed back into the woods, we followed a small stream that was filled with spotted salamander eggs.  It seemed we were too late to see any of the adults, but just then, Joe called out “Hey guys, I think I’ve found one!”  We rushed over and sure enough it was a big beautiful spottie!

The sun had now set and the woods were getting darker.  We saw a few bats fly over head, along with the low flying jets landing at Dulles airport. Between the roars of jet-engines, another more melodious sound could be heard.  We started towards the trilling calls.  They seemed to be coming from a large vernal pool in the middle of a gas line cut in the woods.

As we drew near the pool, the music of toads became louder and louder.  I could not believe my eyes or ears!  I saw and heard more toads than I have ever seen any where!  The water was alive with toads.  Swimming toads.  Hopping toads.  Toads climbing on each other.

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Mating Ball o’ Toads

It was truly toadally amazing night.

Creature Feature: American Toad

American Toad

Anaxyrus americanus  (formerly Bufo americanus)

Reptiles Alive Name: Tony & Walkertoad-300x239

Hissstory: Tony was found on RA Wildlife Educator Tony’s driveway in May of 2009.  Walker was found in the RA tortoise yard in August of 2010.

RA Diet: Meal worms, crickets, and earthworms.

Natural Diet: Insects and small animals including baby snakes and other frogs.

Range: The northeastern and mid-Atlantic United States north into Canada.  American toads are native to the Washington DC area.

Habitat: Toads can be found nearly anywhere there is shallow water in which to breed including suburban and urban parks, yards, and gardens.

Size: On average. American toads grow  2-3.5 inches, however, the largest on record was 4 and 3/8 inches.

Lifespan: Can live up to ten years.

Reproduction: Toads breed March-July. Females choose the males with the best song.   She then lays the eggs in long spiraling strands in vernal pools and roadside ditches.

Conservation: If you have a toad living in yard, consider yourself lucky!  Toads provide pest control by eating a huge amount of insects daily. One American toad can eat up to 1,000 insects every day!!  Protect toads you find and provide shelter for toads in your yard to encourage them to stay.

Cool Facts: You can’t get warts from touching a toad – but you can get poisoned!  The warts on a toad’s body are actually poison glands.  When a toad feels threatened, thick sticky white poison will ooze out of the warts.  The poison isn’t strong enough to seriously hurt a human – but if you eat a toad, you will probably get a bad stomachache.  So, don’t eat toads!

Reptile Survey at Mason Neck State Park – 5/22/10

We had a ssssspectacular Saturday as part of a Virginia Herpetological Survey (VHS) team for Mason Neck State Park and National Wildlife Refuge.  Tony & Caroline along with about 20 other VHS members participated in the day long search for reptiles and amphibians.  Each animal found was documented along with the location and  micro-habitat it was found in.

We started the day around 8:30 am.  We were divided into 5 teams that were given 5 different sections of the area to survey.  Our team was assigned to the areas of the Wildlife Refuge that are closed to the public.

We drove to the end of the main Refuge access road to an area that used to be a farm.  Five foot tall grass, poison ivy, and millions of deer ticks awaited us.  We were not deterred!  Almost immediately an eastern box turtle was found.

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Eastern Box Turtle

And then in a very short period of time, we found a brown snake, multiple worm snakes, more box turtles, two spotted salamanders, and giant native millipedes (I know – they don’t really count on a herp survey, but they were so cool!)

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Northern Brownsnake

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Spotted Salamander

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Eastern Wormsnake

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Millipede

We also found two black racers – snakes that are known for being fast.  One of the racers was in a somewhat odd micro-habitat.  It was about 5 feet off the ground hanging on a small tree growing on the edge of a cliff.

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Northern Black Racer

We continued herping (searching for reptiles and amphibians) throughout the morning.  It was hard work hiking through the brush, lifting logs and turning over rocks, but we were dedicated to our mission.

 

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Jon the Dedicated Herper

We drove a few miles down to an area of vernal pools, marshes, and wetlands.  We found more herps, including cricket frogs and green frogs.  One of the green frogs was also in a somewhat strange spot (for a green frog), he was about 3 feet up on the side of a tree stump.

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Northern Green Frog

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Northern Green Frog on a Stump

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Northern Cricket Frog

While in the wetlands, we also found some frog predators.  Many painted turtles were spotted basking on logs.  A large snapping turtle was found in a pond under a log – but he foiled our attempts to take his picture.

Many people believe the myth that venomous cottonmouth (water moccasins) live in the Washington DC area.  They do not.  Our area is too far north for them to survive.  We do, however, have harmless northern water snakes which are often confused with both cottonmouths and copperheads.  Like many snakes, northern water snakes will flatten their bodies and heads to appear more “viper like” when they are threatened which can lead to their mis-identification as a venomous species.

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Common Watersnake

In the same wetland location, we also found beautiful ribbon snakes.  Ribbon snakes are similar in appearance to their close relatives the garter snakes, but the ribbons are much more slender.

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Common Ribbon Snake

Whew – after all this success we started to get a bit hungry.  So we decided to head back to the meeting site,  eat lunch, and find out how the other teams were doing.

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Hungry, Hungry Herpers!

After our short lunch break, we headed back out into the field for more searching.  We discovered more worm snakes, more box turtles, lots more green frogs, more spotted salamanders and we had an encounter with a rarely seen in Fairfax County lizard species, the ground skink.

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Little Brown Skink

Deep in the woods, far from any roads or trails, we also discovered a sign of the past.

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Dial S for Snake

We did, however, find a venomous species of arachnid hiding under a log:

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Black Widow Spider

Around 5 pm, we headed back to meet up with the other teams and share our data collection for the day. The VHS president Kory Steele was there adding up all the numbers from each team. Soon, we would learn which team found the most animals.
Guess which team won? Well, as Kory reminded me, this was not a contest. Our mission was to collect data to assist with the conservation of reptiles and amphibians. (Ok, but our team won – we found 57 individual herps representing 17 species – woo hoo woo hoo!)
All of the animals we found that day were left in the spot we found them. Well, except for two animals – alien invaders were found in a turtle sampling trap.

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The mouth of an ALIEN!

The aliens were the Frankenfish – the Northern Snake-head! Apparently, there is now a large breeding population of these introduced exotic fish in the Potomac River and its tributaries in the Mason Neck/Pohick Bay area. This new invader could cause unknown consequences on our native fish, reptiles, amphibians, insects and possibly even birds and mammals. Surveys such as the one the VHS teams completed at Mason Neck are crucial for the protection and conservation of our wildlife.
We had a sssssssuper ssssssssuccessful Ssssssssssaturday. It was snaketacular.


Information on Mason Neck State Park:
 http://www.dcr.virginia.gov/state_parks/mas.shtml

To see more pictures of our herp search at Mason Neck, visit our Facebook page.

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Hmmm, I wonder if he will become Prince Charming?

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UPCOMING EVENTS

  1. Reptiles Alive Show at Doodlehopper 4 Kids

    February 25 @ 1:00 pm - 1:30 pm
  2. Leesburg Flower & Garden Festival Reptiles Alive Show

    April 21 @ 11:00 am - 11:45 am

TESTIMONIALS

"It was fantastic and the whole party was into it. Tony was truly a wonderful educational presenter."

Rachel Karnes, Mom, Potomac Falls VA

5.0
2016-11-16T17:25:35+00:00

Rachel Karnes, Mom, Potomac Falls VA

"It was fantastic and the whole party was into it. Tony was truly a wonderful educational presenter."

"Thank you! The information provided to the kids was so educational and fun. I am a homeschool mom and the way the material was presented...

Patty Coote, Mom, Herndon VA

5.0
2016-11-16T17:28:52+00:00

Patty Coote, Mom, Herndon VA

"Thank you! The information provided to the kids was so educational and fun. I am a homeschool mom and the way the material was presented felt like we were at a fun event! The parents even remarked that they learned something. My son has a lifetime memory because of your program."

"Thank you for an incredible birthday party! All of the children had a wonderful experience. Caroline was so easy to work with and Tony did...

Marcie Blackstone, Mom, Clarksburg MD

5.0
2017-01-02T09:08:56+00:00

Marcie Blackstone, Mom, Clarksburg MD

"Thank you for an incredible birthday party! All of the children had a wonderful experience. Caroline was so easy to work with and Tony did a great job presenting to the kids!"

"Liz was great. She was prompt, organized, knowledgeable, friendly and fun. Having her do the show in our home was effortless, entertaining, and overall a...

Tammy Berkon, Mom, Alexandria VA

5.0
2017-01-02T09:11:36+00:00

Tammy Berkon, Mom, Alexandria VA

"Liz was great. She was prompt, organized, knowledgeable, friendly and fun. Having her do the show in our home was effortless, entertaining, and overall a wonderful experience for everyone!"

"I loved it so much. They teach you about the animals and you get to touch them! Rachel did a really wonderful job" 

Birthday girl and Mom, Chantilly VA

5.0
2017-01-02T09:12:19+00:00

Birthday girl and Mom, Chantilly VA

"I loved it so much. They teach you about the animals and you get to touch them! Rachel did a really wonderful job" 

"I am so glad we hired Reptiles Alive for my son's birthday. CobraCaroline and all her reptiles were a huge hit! All the kids loved...

Elizabeth Poppi, Mom, Reston VA

5.0
2017-01-02T09:12:52+00:00

Elizabeth Poppi, Mom, Reston VA

"I am so glad we hired Reptiles Alive for my son's birthday. CobraCaroline and all her reptiles were a huge hit! All the kids loved it! Even those who seemed a little reluctant were reaching out to pe the animals at the end. Caroline's energy and enthusiasm was contagious and we couldn't have asked for more!"

"The program was outstanding. Caroline was so knowledgeable and was able to teach the children at their level. She handled the animals very professionally and...

Joan L. Mancuso, Director Potomac Nursery School

5.0
2017-01-02T09:13:30+00:00

Joan L. Mancuso, Director Potomac Nursery School

"The program was outstanding. Caroline was so knowledgeable and was able to teach the children at their level. She handled the animals very professionally and the hands on experience for the children was well received. I would highly recommend this program--both for our age group (3-4 yr olds) and for elementary school children."
5.0
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