Reptiles Alive! at the Francis A. Gregory Library in SE DC

Come kick off your Summer Reading with Reptiles Alive’s PREMIER live animal show at the Francis A Gregory Library in SE DC. Everyone will have a blast while learning all about reptiles and amphibians.  The Wildlife Educator will share fun facts and wild stories about where the animals live, how they survive, and what we can do to help animals all across the world.  Check out our blog to learn more about animals in our area and what is happening at Reptiles Alive Headquarters!

The Hognose Heaven Zone

There is a mysterious area very near to that place which is known as Washington DC. It is an area as vast as about  1 or 2 square miles and as timeless as infinity (or at least a few million years.) It is the middle ground between light and shadow, between city an country.  Journey with us now into this wondrous land. It is an area which we call the: “Hognose Heaven Zone.”

Our story begins with a foursome of herpers, Caroline, Charise, John W and Jon K, hiking to an undisclosed location near Washington DC.   Years before this journey began, former Reptiles Alive Wildlife Educator and Keeper Jeff Stryker discovered  a population of hognose snakes and eastern milk snakes (two awesome snake species that are not very common in the suburbs) living in this strange spot and named the place “Hognose Heaven.”

As the group’s journey began, they spotted their first herps of the day. There were many turtles and frogs living in the wetlands along the trail.

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Nesting eastern painted turtle

Soon, the  group of herpers veered off the main trail onto a little-used trail that led to the heart of Hognose Heaven. They began turning over logs and rocks.  A four-toed salamander was discovered!  The salamander’s creamy white and black spotted belly helped with its identification.

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Four-toed Salamander

After arriving at Hognose Heaven, something very unexpected appeared to materialize out of the rocks, sticks, and leaves – something that even four experienced naturalists could hardly see until they were right on top of it!

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Newborn Fawn

The fawn was only a few hours old. Its camouflage was remarkable! The baby deer was nearly invisible – the perfect survival strategy for a small animal that can not yet walk or run. Its mother was nearby and would return as soon as the coast was clear. Even though the group was in a strange place, it is normal to find fawns alone in the woods without their mother. As soon as the people vanish, the mother deer will come back to care for her fawn.
After observing the baby deer, the group continued searching for snakes. Caroline quickly found the hognose snake’s favorite food item: toads.

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Toad

As Caroline approached John W to inform him of her find, she noticed he was holding something in his hands. Something about 3 feet long, with orange spots on a black body and a pointy, upturned nose. “Hognose! Hognose!” she yelled with joy!

John W and Caroline yelled for Jon K and Charise to come and see the spectacular serpent. When they arrived, however, the snake was acting strange.

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Does this Hog-nosed Snake Need Help?

As the group excitedly discussed the behavior of the hognose snake, the snake in question seemed to miraculously get better!

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It’s a Miracle! (or maybe just a Hognose)

After making his miracle recovery from his apparent death, the snake made his move and slithered back to the safety of his rocky home.

Now, the group needed to make a decision. Continue the search? Or have lunch? Caroline suggested having lunch after a short hike over to a nearby bizarro-world she called: CACTUS ISLAND!
Believe it or not, (believe it), the prickly pear cactus is native to the Washington DC area. Much of its habitat has been lost to urban development, but it can still sometimes be found in certain micro-habitats around our nation’s capital. That day, the cactus was in bloom!

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Prickly Pear Growing Near Washington, DC

Does the story end here? Did they find an eastern milk snake? Did they have a good lunch? Only they know the answer to those questions. Questions from the Hognose Heaven Zone.

Pocomoke City Discovers Reptiles Alive!

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Last Saturday morning, March 20th, I packed up the Reptiles Alive van full of great animals including Sunshine the python, Logan the Nile monitor lizard, and B.A. the alligator.  We  drove across the Chesapeake Bay down to Pocomoke City, MD – home to the Delmarva Discovery Center.

Pocomoke is a historic Eastern Shore town located right on the Pocomoke River. Last year, the awesome new Delmarva Discovery Center (DDC) opened to the public. The DDC features exhibits that tell the story of the Delmarva’s natural and cultural history.
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As we set up and got ready, we had a huge crowd excitedly waiting to see the first show.
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We started each of the three shows that day with a couple of animals native to the Eastern Shore: Lucky our black rat snake and T Rex the snapping turtle.100_1325

Then we featured an animal from the other side of our planet: the Australian blue tongue skink, Mystique. Next, we learned why we should all be really grateful there are no mommy pizzas when we met Logan the Nile monitor lizard.
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The alligator B.A. (which stands for “Bad Attitude” helped us learn alligator love songs. Last but definitely not least, we met Sunshine, our albino Burmese python. The audience, as usual, went wild for Sunshine.

Big thanks go to the Delmarva Discovery Center for hosting this fun reptile festival. We are hoping to make this an annual event, so start planning your trip to Pocomoke City for next year.

Birthday Parties in the Flu Season – Be Prepared

Your invitations are sent.   Your Reptiles Alive birthday show is booked.  The decorations are up.  And then…  OH NO!  The birthday person gets sick!  What to do?

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Child with the flu

We encourage clients with sick children to call us as soon as possible if the child is sick close to the day (or the day of) the birthday party. Most entertainers will try to work with you to re-schedule your show and party to date that works for both of you.  If that is not possible – we will refund your 100% of your deposit.  It is not fun being at a party when you are sick – and worse, the illness will spread to your guests.

What happens when your party entertainer gets ill?  At Reptiles Alive, we are professional, reliable, and human.  If one of our wildlife educators becomes sick, we work hard to find a replacement educator (we will even call our competitors sometimes) for your party.  On very rare occasions, however, even we have to cancel a show.

Believe me, we never want to do this, but sometimes, due to illness or other reasons out of our control, our educator cannot make it to his/her show.  In over 13 years and thousands of shows, we have had to cancel less than 5.  That is a pretty good record!

What if it is YOUR party we cannot make it to?  Or what if you have hired another party entertainer and they cannot make it?

1.  Always have a back up plan in mind.  Whether you have Reptiles Alive or another party entertainer coming: illness, traffic or other problems can happen that prevent the entertainer from making it to your party.

2.  Back up plans can include extra games , crafts, cooking fun foods together, a TV video, or  if your show canceled because of snow – you can let the guests play outside and build a snowman.  Explore the outdoors, go on a nature walk in your neighborhood, dig in the dirt, or bring the outdoors inside and let the party guests inspect leaves, insects, make leaf and bark rubbings, inspect things up close on a tarp in the living room. Totally fun!

3.  RELAX.  Kids will have fun – really.  I had a birthday mom call us last minute because another party entertainer had to cancel and she had just found out about us.  We were already booked, so we could not make it.  I talked to her about the party:  15 nine year old boys; Cool (50′s) November day; backyard with a fire pit – BINGO!  I suggested she buy hot dogs,  marshmallows, chocolate, and graham crackers.  These boys were old enough to roast s’mores and hot dogs  and they were old enough to enjoy watching/helping Dad build the fire.  They played soccer in the yard, had fun around the fire, ate some cake and went home.  The mom called me later and said the boys had a total blast!

Professional party entertainers never want to cancel a show – trust me.  Sometimes, though, it is simply out of their control.  Especially in the flu season, but anytime, it is always a good idea to be prepared.  That way, you and your party will be happy and fun no matter what happens.

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Children LOVE helping to build a fire!