Fun With Kids & Nature: Vernal Pools!

Are the kids antsy for winter to be over? Are you looking for a fun idea for the family to get outside and welcome the change to spring?

Head out one evening to a vernal pool near you and introduce your children to an epic annual event. The massing of millions of amphibians to mate and lay eggs only occurs once a year. In the Washington DC area, this would be during mid to late February through March on a warm evening (55 F or above) during or after rain.

Vernal pools are special habitats that fill with rainwater in the fall, winter, and spring and typically dry up in the summer.  Because these pools are not permanent, fish are not able to survive. Without fish to eat their eggs or larvae, amphibians such as spring peeper, wood frogs, and spotted salamanders are able to utilize vernal pools to lay their eggs.

A vernal pool is probably closer to your home than you think.

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Wetlands area behind ballfields – perfect for Spring Peepers or Chorus Frogs

 

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Spring Peeper

 

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Vernal Pool in ditch filled with Wood Frog eggs

 

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Wood Frog Eggs

 

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Wood Frog

 

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Vernal Pool with emerging Skunk Cabbage behind an office building next to the Beltway in Fairfax VA

A great way to find a vernal pool is to listen for the loud, piercing “PEEP!” of Spring Peepers peeping, usually in the evening, but occasionally during the day as well. Follow the frog chorus and it will lead you to an area where there is probably a vernal pool or at least a wetland of some sort.

 

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Spring Peeper Peeping

If it is close to dark, give everyone a flashlight or headlamp and head out. Once you arrive at the vernal pool, let your family know to keep their eyes and ears open.  You may see see the tiny Spring Peeper frogs, but you are more likely to hear them. Larger and easier to see are Wood Frogs which make a call similar to the quacking of ducks. Spotted Salamanders are silent, however they are spectacular!  They grow up to 8 inches in length, are shiny black and usually have rows of bright yellow spots on their back.

Kids may want to catch or handle the frogs and their eggs. Teach how to be respectful of animals while encouraging excitement about the natural world. Be sure hands are wet and chemical-free when handling amphibians or eggs. Be gentle and return any captured animals or eggs to the spot they were found. To stop the spread of disease among amphibian populations, when you get home be sure to wash hands with soap and water after touching any animals and disinfect shoes and any nets, buckets, or other materials that came into contact with animals, eggs, or the habitat with a 10% bleach/water solution.

The awesomeness of an up-close experience in the wild with amazing animals that only appear once per year is an activity your family will never forget.

 

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20:47 01 Mar 18

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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

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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

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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

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Linda Nana

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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

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Hina Ullah

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