Creature Feature: Rachel Walker

Rachel Walker

Wildlife Educator and Animal Keeper

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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!

Creature Feature: Cobra Caroline

Caroline Seitz

Director/Founder of Reptiles Alive LLC

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Reptiles Alive Name: Cobra Caroline (aka The Reptile Lady)

Hisstory: Cobra Caroline performed her first live reptile show in public when she was 9 years old.  She continued presenting wildlife education programs through high school and college and then worked a few years at various zoos and nature centers.  In 1996, she founded “The Reptile Lady” which would soon become “Reptiles Alive LLC.”

RA Diet: Favorite lunch time items for Cobra Caroline include banh mi sandwiches, BLT’s with homegrown tomatoes, and anything her mom cooks for  her.

Natural Diet: Cobra Caroline is an opportunistic omnivore.  She will eat both plants and animals, including seafood.  Her diet is variable depending on the seasons.  Winter  foods may include slow cooked soups and stews,  where as summer fare typically includes vegetables grown in her garden and fish and crabs from the Chesapeake Bay.

Range: Although Cobra Caroline was born in Arlington and has lived her whole life in northern Virginia, she spends much of her time traveling, especially to Reno, NV where her father lives.  She also has had special opportunities to spend time on the Big Island of Hawaii where her brother lives and works as a sea turtle biologist.

Habitat: You could find Cobra Caroline in many different habitats.  If you are on the road, look for driving the reptile van to a show.  You might see her performing a show at a school, library, festival, or other venue.  She manages the office, so she spends a lot of time on the phone and on the computer.  And she supervises the animal collection, so she spends time monitoring the health and care of the animals here.  WHEW – she is everywhere!

Size: Don’t be fooled by Cobra Caroline’s size.  At 5 feet tall, she is more than capable of handling a giant python, capturing a crocodile, or carrying a heavy tortoise.

Lifespan: Cobra Caroline could live to 80 years or more.

Reproduction: Cobra Caroline has successfully raised many plants and vegetables into a beautiful home garden.

Conservation: Since she was 4 years old, Cobra Caroline has dedicated her life to teaching other people how important snakes and other animals are to our environment. She spent her childhood learning about nature by reading books, writing in her nature journal, and spending copious amounts of time in the swamp near her house searching for snakes, frogs, insects and other creatures.  She started volunteering at nature centers and zoos as a teenager and became a Virginia Licensed Wildlife Rehabilitator when she was 18.  Wildlife conservation IS Caroline’s life.

Cool Facts: After graduating from George Mason University with a B.A. in Speech Communication, Cobra Caroline spent some years working a variety of fun jobs.  She worked as a park naturalist at Hidden Pond Nature Center;  a park ranger Mason Neck State Park where she lead canoe trips into bald eagle habitats and a wildlife educator at a zoo where she performed shows with monkeys, kinkajous, exotic birds, and other animals.  One of her strangest jobs was working for an animal removal company as a “Snake Removal Technician.”  This involved spending hours crawling through dirty and sometimes scary crawlspaces and attics searching for snakes and inspecting the facility to figure out how to stop them from getting in.

Cobra Caroline feels lucky every day – as the director of Reptiles Alive, she gets to “work” at job she loves.  She can’t imagine doing anything else.

Creature Feature: Crested Gecko

Crested Gecko (aka Eyelash Gecko)

Rhacodactylus ciliatus

Reptiles Alive Name: Rhacodactylus (aka Rhacky)crestedgecko30int

Hissstory: Rhacky came to us as an unwanted pet in July 2010.

RA Diet: Crickets and fruit.

Natural Diet: Insects and other invertebrates plus fruit and nectar.

Range: New Caledonia.

Habitat: Cool and humid tropical lowland rain forest from the understory to the canopy.

Size: 6-7 inches long.

Lifespan: 10-20 years.

Reproduction: Females lay 1 or 2 eggs which hatch in about 2 months.

Conservation: Crested gecko habitat is threatened by: deforestation, nickel mining, and the introduction of exotic predators.  Most of the crested geckos available for sale as pets in the United States have been captive bred.

Cool Facts: Crested geckos were first discovered in 1866, but were later thought to be extinct.  However, in 1994, two herpetologists on expeditions to New Caledonia “rediscovered” the geckos.

Creature Feature – Spotted Turtle

Spotted Turtle

Clemmys guttata

Reptiles Alive Name: Spot

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Hissstory: Spot was donated to us from a nature center.

RA Diet: Earthworms, crickets, meal worms and  zoo aquatic turtle food.

Natural Diet: Spotted turtles are omnivorous – meaning they eat both plants and meat.  Algae, leaves of soft aquatic plants water lily seeds, worms, mollusks, crustaceans, insects, amphibian eggs, tadpoles, and carrion are all eaten by spotted turtles.

Range: Eastern Canada south through the eastern United States including the Washington D.C. region.

Habitat: Small ponds, vernal pools, marshes, swamps and wet woodlands

Size: Grows 3.5 – 4.5 inches, with a record of 5 inches

Lifespan: Can live over 20 years

Reproduction: Spotted turtles breed March – May. Females lay 3-5 eggs in June. The eggs hatch in the fall and sometimes the hatchling turtles overwinter in the nest.

Conservation Issues: Spotted turtles are threatened in many areas due to habitat loss, pollution and the pet trade.

Cool Facts: Spotted turtles emerge from hibernation earlier than most other turtles.  They can function at lower temperatures than most other reptiles species.