Five Easy Steps to Booking your Reptiles Alive School Assembly

Whew, summer went by so fast and now it is Back To School Time.

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Janis, the African leopard tortoise is all ready to head back to school.

Have you been asked to hire the assembly show performers for your school this year? Students and teachers agree Reptiles Alive shows are toadally the BEST school assemblies of the year!  Here are 5 easy steps to bring the fun and education to  your school this year:

Step 1 – Choose your Date

Talk with the principal and/or anyone else who can help you find dates that will work for your Reptiles Alive visit.  Be sure the room will be available and there are no other special events scheduled on your assembly day.  It is always a good idea to have multiple dates in mind in case your first choice of a date is already booked up in our schedule.

Step 2 – Choose your School Assembly Show

We offer a variety of live reptile shows, each covering different themes. Our most popular school assembly is our general introduction to reptiles:  “Reptiles Alive!”  We also have shows covering specific habitats including “Rainforest Reptiles Alive!” “Desert Reptiles Alive!” and “Wetland Reptiles Alive!”  The show “Backyard Reptiles Alive!” features animals found right here in the DC Metro area.  All of our shows cover topics in the Common Core Standards and the Virginia Standards of Learning (SOL’s) and our show “Ecosystems Alive!” is  designed specifically with the Common Core Standards in mind.  Two assembly shows that work great for October are “Snakes Alive!” and “Creepy Reptiles Alive!”   Keep in mind we are also happy to create custom school assemblies to fit any special school unit or theme.  To see a list with a description of each of our shows, check out our live animal shows for schools page.

Step 3 – Book with Reptiles Alive

At Reptiles Alive, our dates book up very quickly.  The sooner you book with us, the more likely the date and times you want will be available in our schedule.  To book your school assembly with us, fill out our booking request form or call us at 703 560-0257.  Once we receive the information for your booking, we will email a Performance Agreement/Invoice for payment to confirm your reservation.

Step 4 – Preparing Teachers and Students for the Reptiles Alive assembly

Now that you have your Reptiles Alive show reserved, it is time to let teachers know about our visit. Use our custom E-Invitations to alert teachers about the upcoming assembly (there are template choices for party invites OR general events on this page). Be sure to send teachers links to all of our school assembly resource materials. A variety of teacher’s guides to our shows, reptile reference materials, lesson plans, craft ideas and more teacher resources are found on our Teacher’s Page.  Reptile coloring pages, jigsaw puzzles, mazes and crossword puzzles can be found on our Kid’s Page.  And for more reptile fun, check out our Party Ideas Page for reptile games, crafts and even reptile food ideas!

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Be sure to check our Teacher’s Page for resources to supplement your Reptiles Alive assembly.

Step 5 – Preparing on the day of the Reptiles Alive assembly

The Reptiles Alive Wildlife Educator will arrive approximately 30 minutes before the start time for your first show.   Our Wildlife Educators are professionals with years of experience presenting school assemblies so they are great at getting everything set up quickly and efficiently.  To help when we arrive, have a close parking spot open so we can safely load the live animals and other equipment to the assembly room.  We bring our own cart to make the loading easier, so please let us know if there are any unavoidable stairs between our parking spot and the performance space.  In the performance area we will need two tables and an electrical outlet nearby to set up our PA system.  More information, including a diagram of how we set up, can be found on our Preparing for Your Reptiles Alive Show page.


All that’s left to do now is to sit back, relax, and enjoy the Reptiles Alive show!

Ssssee you all this sssschool year!

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Rango the iguana patiently waits for the students at a school assembly.


Help Name the Newest RA Animal Star

Help Name the Newest RA Animal Star

A new animal has joined our animal star team – a gray banded king snake!  This handsome animal was donated to us a few months ago and is about to leave quarantine to begin work as a Reptiles Alive education animal.  One more thing needs to happen, however, before he can start meeting people – he needs a NAME!

We want YOUR HELP in choosing his name.  Read his description below and think of a name befitting such an awesome animal.  Comment below or email the name to us at [email protected]

Keep in mind we want a name that somehow relates to this snake’s natural history, geographical range, or any special features.  A coolness or cuteness factor is also great!  Read the description below and SEND IN YOUR NAME SUGGESTIONS!

Gray-banded Kingsnake

(Lampropeltis alterna)

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Reptiles Alive Name: YOU DECIDE!

Hissstory: This handsome snake was donated to us from a friend of Reptiles Alive.

RA Diet: Frozen/thawed mice.

Natural Diet:  Lizards are the favorite food of gray-banded kings in the wild. They will also dine on rodents, eggs, and other snakes, including venomous rattlesnakes! They catch their prey by biting first and then wrapping around and constricting, just like a boa or python.

Range: Gray-banded kingsnakes are found in the deserts of southwestern Texas, southern New Mexico and northern Mexico.

Habitat: Dry rocky areas and hillsides in the Trans-Pecos/Chihuahuan desert range is where gray-banded kingsnakes like to hang out. They are primarily nocturnal and can often be seen crossing desert roads after dark.

Size: These are medium sized snakes – they average around 3 feet long.

Lifespan: Like many snakes, gray-banded kingsnakes have an average lifespan of 30 years.

Reproduction: Gray-banded kingsnakes lay clutches of 3-13 leathery eggs in early summer.  As with most snakes, the female abandons the eggs after laying them. When the eggs hatch approximately 9 weeks later, the hatchlings are about 10 inches in length.  Although small, they already know how to catch prey and elude predators.

Conservation: The unregulated take of gray-banded kingsnakes by commercial and private collectors has caused this species to become threatened in many parts of its range.  Some snake collectors will destroy the habitat of the snakes (and other species) while searching for them.  Luckily, most gray-banded kingsnakes available in the pet trade today are being captive bred, so the wild populations have less pressure from collectors. And states such as New Mexico have protected gray-banded kingsnakes and have a recovery plan in place to help this awesome snake species.

Cool Facts: Gray-banded kingsnakes are super popular with snake enthusiasts for a variety of reasons including their incredible beauty.  They come in many different colors and patterns – some are almost all gray while others are more orange and/or red.



Sssummer is Ssspectacular at Reptiles Alive!


Summer is a toad-ally busy time of year at Reptiles Alive.  Each year we present approximately 800 shows, and almost half of those are presented in June, July, and August.  Why are we so much busier in the summer?  Well, while most small businesses get a bit of a break in the “lazy” days of summer, we go wild with summer camps, library shows, and all kinds of special summer events.  During the school year, schools and daycare centers have 9 months to schedule special enrichment visits.  During the summer however, summer camps, summer library reading programs, and summer family events only last for 6-8 weeks! For Reptiles Alive, that means we need our staff to be all hands on deck and fully ready to engage (and entertain and educate).

And we LOVE it.

Summer is not without challenges however.  Starting with traffic.  Ugh, the hardest part of performing shows for Reptiles Alive is just getting to them!  Traffic in the DC area is notorious for being bad, but the biggest challenge is its unpredictability.  In the summer, it can be especially frustrating on weekends heading for shows south on I-95, west on I-66, north on I-495, and oh, who am I kidding – traffic is awful everywhere around here.  But RA Wildlife Educators are experienced and know to give plenty of extra time drive time to get to their shows. Nonetheless,  driving to the shows is often the most stressful aspect of working at Reptiles Alive.

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Even turtles think the DC area traffic is too slow.

Summer also means presenting shows outdoors.  Aaaah, the great outdoors are not always so great, especially for performing a show.  Biting insects, sudden storms, heat and brutal humidity combine to create rough conditions for any performer.  We take extra care to make sure our animals stay comfortable – we require shade for the animals in order to perform outside shows.  The Wildlife Educator, however, has the unique experience of presenting a high-energy show to keep the attention of audiences that usually include very young children in a hot, humid environment while handling large and sometimes wiggly animals.  It really does take a special kind of person to become a part of our Reptiles Alive team.

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Bearded dragons love the hot summer sun!

One of the best parts of summer at Reptiles Alive is performing public shows at special summer events and summer reading programs at libraries. Moms and Dads are always on the lookout for fun and FREE family entertainment and many of the events where we perform at are toad-ally free!  Although it is already July, we still have more than 30 public shows coming up this summer. These shows are open to the public and are being held at libraries and events throughout the DC/Maryland/Virginia area. It is usually a good idea to check with the host or venue of the event or library before heading out to the show, so be sure to visit our public events page for show dates, times, directions, and contact information.

And our most favorite part of summer?  Getting to meet so many awesome RA fans! Hope to sssssee you at our next show!


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RA Wildlife Educator LizardLiz delights an audience of all ages at a public event earlier this summer.


Creature Feature: Pumpkin the Pueblan Milk Snake

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Pueblan Milk Snake

Lampropeltis triangulum campbelli

Reptiles Alive Name: Pumpkin

Hisssstory: Pumpkin was an unwanted pet that was donated to us.

RA Diet: Pumpkin eats 1 frozen mouse that is thawed and warmed once per week.

Natural Diet: In the wild, milk snakes will eat rodents, lizards, eggs, and even other snakes – including rattlesnakes!

Range: Pueblan milk snakes are native to southern Mexico, including parts of Puebla, Morelos, and Oaxaca.

Habitat: The natural habitat of the Pueblan milk snake is varied – they can be found in tropical woodlands, rocky areas, farmlands and in urban environments as well.

Size: Pueblan milk snakes reach a length of 2-4 feet.

Lifespan: Pueblan milk snakes live an average of 20 years.

Reproduction: Female Pueblan milk snakes lay 2-14 eggs annually. Like most snakes, after laying her eggs, the female leaves and does not guard the eggs or care for the babies.  When the babies hatch, they instinctively know how to survive.

Conservation Issues: Many people falsely believe that all brightly colored snakes are venomous, however brightly colored milk snakes are non-venomous and completely harmless to humans.  This confusion sometimes leads to the unnecessary killing of milk snakes. It is important for people to leave all snakes alone – whether they are venomous or not.

Cool Facts: The old poem “red touches yellow kills a fellow, red  on black is ok Jack” is a FALSE and misleading way to identify venomous vs non-venomous snakes.  There are around 3000 different species of snakes that come in all colors and patterns.  There is no quick and easy way to identify which snakes are venomous or not.  It takes years of experience working with and learning about snakes to reliably identify them. So, unless you are snake nerd, when you encounter a snake, remember this poem written by CobraCaroline:

Red touch yellow, stay away fellow
Red touch black, just stay back
No matter what color you see, just let snakes be