Reptiles Alive at Fall for Fairfax KidsFest!

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Reptiles Alive is proud to be returning to Celebrate Fairfax’s 25th annual Fall For Fairfax KidsFest, the premiere fall family festival in the Mid-Atlantic region.

Reptiles Alive will be performing THREE shows this year, Saturday, September 30th at 6 PM, Sunday, October 1st at 1:15 PM and 3:15 PM.  Come meet beautiful animals from all across the world, presented by an engaging Wildlife Educator.  The Educator will tell fun facts, funny stories, and interesting ways you can help protect animals around you and all across the world.  Check out our Kids Page for ways to get your children excited and learning about reptiles.

Fall For Fairfax KidsFest is specially designed for families with elementary and pre-K aged children.

Admission, most activities and entertainment are free of charge.

Creature Feature: Uromastyx

Uromastyx

Uromastyx maliensis

Reptiles Alive Name: “Mali”

Hissstory: Mali was donated to us by former RA staff person Jennifer Rafter in 1999.uromstyx8

RA Diet: Greens, vegetables, and zoo herbivore lizard food.

Natural Diet: Greens, grasses, flowers, seeds, and occasional insects.

Range: Northern Africa

Habitat: Rocky deserts.

Size: Can grow to 15 – 17 inches.

Lifespan: 20+ years

Reproduction: Females lay about 15 eggs that will hatch in 60-70 days.

Conservation Issues: Captive breeding has proven difficult for this lizard, most uromastyx in the pet trade are wild caught.  Many people still capture this lizard for food throughout its range.

Cool Facts: These lizards sleep in their burrows with their spiny tails closest to the opening.  If a predator gets too close, the Uromastyx will whip its spiny tail in defense.

Introduction to Reptiles: a Beginner’s Guide

What is a reptile?

A reptile is a vertebrate animal, they have a bony skeleton just like you and me, breathe through lungs, are covered in scales, are ectothermic, and typically lay eggs.

Cold-blooded

uromstyx8

Reptiles are ectothermic (exothermic) meaning, “outside temperature.” This means the animal’s internal temperature changes with that of the environment. If it is 73 degrees outside, the inside of the snake is 73 degrees. Mammals are homothermic, meaning same temperature all the time. Humans are typically 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit all of the time.

Reptile bodies cannot function when it is too cold or too hot. They rely on their surroundings to maintain their body’s preferred temperature. A cold lizard will bask on a rock in the sun, then move to the shade after he becomes too hot.

Types of reptiles

There are over 8,000 kinds of reptiles split into four groups.

1. Chelonia – turtles, tortoisesrussian_tortoise

2. Crocodilia – alligators, caimans, crocodiles, gavialsgatorsmilecutouthead

3. Rhynchocephalia – tuatara

Tuatara
4. Squamata – amphisbaenians, lizards, snakessunshine_profile-300x200

Scientists do not separate lizards and snakes into two groups, but list them under the group “squamata.” Snakes are considered specialized versions of lizards. Why must the scientists be confusing?

Compare and Contrast: Snakes Vs Lizards

All snakes are legless, but some lizards are legless too!

All snakes have no ears, but some lizards lack ears as well.

All snakes have no eyelids, but some lizards also have no eyelids.

Snakes have forked tongues, but so do many lizards.

Confused yet? Don’t worry, from now on we will discuss snakes and lizards as separate groups. Whew! (and you were worried)

Chelonians – Turtles

shellinsideThere are over 300 different kinds of turtles. Sea turtles fly gracefully through the warm oceans of the world with giant flippers, tortoises lumber across the land with strong elephant like legs, and terrapins paddle with webbed feet in freshwater habitats.

A turtle’s ribs and backbone together form the turtle’s hard shell. It is covered in skin just like your bones are, a turtle’s shell is inside its body.

Sea turtles can hold their breath for over an hour by using the powers of their amazing heart. The heart blocks off blood to the lungs and allows the blood to travel to only parts of the body needing oxygen while under water!

The giant galapagos tortoise, aldabra tortoise, and african spurred tortoise can live to be over 170 years old!

Crocodilia – Crocodiles and family

With beautiful smiles and big strong tails, crocodilians number over 20 different species including crocodiles, alligators, caimans, and gharials. Gharials have very long, narrow snouts studded with sharp teeth.

crocCrocodiles and alligators are a bit more difficult to tell apart. Alligators typically have broader snouts and straight rows of ridges down their backs. Crocodiles have narrower snouts and irregular rows of ridges on their back. When a crocodile’s mouth is closed, its fourth tooth on the lower jaw fits into a notch on the outside of the upper jaw.

There are only two different kinds of alligators; the american alligator and the very endangered chinese alligator.

Crocodilians are very shy creatures feeding on insects, snails, shellfish, frogs, turtles, fish, mammals, and birds. They rarely want to be near any human. We taste terrible!

gatorbackThe eyes and nostrils are located on top of their head to allow the animal to see and breathe above the water’s surface. They are covered in bony armor to protect them from both their prey and predators. It’s almost like having two skeletons!

We still have much to learn from crocodiles. We have found they are immune to some diseases, heal quickly, are intelligent, and are wonderful parents. Alligators even help other animals survive during droughts by digging water holes with their huge body. Sadly, most crocodilian species are in danger of becoming extinct!

Squamates – Lizards

smallestlizard

Lizards are the most diverse group of reptiles. They come in a huge variety of colors, shapes, and sizes. Lizards are split into two clades or groups, the Iguania and Scleroglossa (meaning hard tongue.) Some lizards can grow over 10 feet long like the komodo dragon and Salvadores monitor lizard. Others, like the Jaragua lizard are able to curl up on a dime.

A typical lizard has external ears, four legs, claws, eyes with eyelids, and tails. Scientists have found that lizards can see color, and some can even see in the ultraviolet wavelengths. Excellent eyesight allows the creatures to snatch bugs out of the air and to see spectacular mating displays.

frilleddragon08 A lizards sense of smell and taste is very acute. Monitor lizards even have a forked tongue like a snake to enhance smelling ability.

Lizards have found remarkable ways to survive. Many are covered in spines, some can stick to trees, most are able to lose their tails, others change colors, a few glide out of trees, and one species can even run across water!

What scientists have learned from lizards has been astounding. They are an amazing group of animals.

Squamates – Snakes

No other animal has been both revered and reviled more than the snake. They are the most widely feared and misunderstood animal on the planet. Very few kinds of snakes are able to harm people.

These slender reptiles have no legs, ears, or eyelids. Snakes are dry, not slimy as scales are made of keratin, the same thing your hair and fingernails are made of.

hognosetongue

A snake’s forked tongue cannot sting or hurt you. A snake that is constantly flicking out it’s tongue is simply interested in its surroundings “sniffing’ like a dog. Chemicals or “scents” stick to the tongue as it waves it around. Then the scent laden tongue is stuck into the neuron studded Jacobson’s organ, a small hole in the roof of the mouth, sending instant messages about what it smells to its brain.

costarint

Remarkable organs known as heat sensing pits light up the night for some lucky snakes. Rattlesnakes, vipers, copperheads, boas, and pythons are able to distinguish in vivid detail differences in temperature allowing them to navigate and catch prey in complete darkness.

All snakes are carnivores. To catch prey, a snake must either bite it with fangs and inject venom, or use its body to subdue the animal using strong muscles. Swallowing the food is a challenge for an animal with no arms or legs! Their jaws are not strong enough to chew their food. Tiny curved teeth hook on to the food item, and allow it to only go in one direction, down the throat!

A snake’s head may appear too small to swallow many food items. Jaws of these animals have a hinge allowing them to open wide. The lower jaw includes two jaw bones connected in the middle with a streatchy ligament, so the mouth can open wide sideways as well. One side of the jaw holds the prey while the other side of the jaw slides forward, walking the food further into their mouth.

The largest snakes in the world are the anaconda and reticulated python, both able to grow over 30 feet long and weighing several hundred pounds. Jewels of this blue planet, snakes come in every color of the rainbow rivaling tropical fish and birds in their beauty.

Rhynchocephalia – Tuatara

Tuatara

A living fossil, the tuatara is an unusual reptile unchanged since the days of the dinosaurs. Although they look much like lizards, tuatara have different skulls, teeth, and pelvic bones. Living only in New Zealand in protected islands, these reptiles prefer lower temperatures than other reptiles. Tuataras live for a long time, probably over 100 years!

Unfortunately, they are highly endangered due to humans, habitat destruction, and introduced predators.

Basic Reptile Pet Advice

Like any pet, caring for a reptile or amphibian requires time, money, and love. In addition to the requirements of a dog or cat, reptiles have special needs.

Reptiles and amphibians spend most of their time sleeping, they do not like to be touched or petted, and will not catch a frisbee. We receive calls daily about reptile pets that are no longer wanted by their owners. While reptiles are kept in a domestic setting they are still wild animals.

artiguana

Green Iguana

Consider rescuing a reptile before purchasing one. Shelters and rescue agencies regularly receive unwanted reptile pets, and often have all their animals checked by a veterinarian before putting them up for adoption.

A great resource for reptile information online is: kingsnake.com

Join your local Herpetology Organization to meet others interested in reptiles. Many hold fun meetings and exciting field trips.

Virginia Herpetological Society

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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."
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Phone: (703) 560-0257
Fax: (703) 560-7531