Creature Feature: Cobra Caroline

Caroline Seitz

Director/Founder of Reptiles Alive LLC

cv-w-nerodia

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.

Fall Changes at Reptiles Alive

Fall is always an exciting time at Reptiles Alive.

We all feel a sense of relief and accomplishment that we have made it through another super busy summer.  We presented approximately 500 shows in June, July & August at libraries, festivals, and tons of summer camps.  Whew!  It is always nice to get the break in September to re-group and get ready for the school year.

The emails and phone calls from PTA representatives and teachers begin flooding into our office as the new school year gets started.  Assemblies, classroom visits, and family fun nights are all being scheduled now, so our office staff works hard to keep up with all the bookings.  If you are interested in booking a program for your school give us a call at 703 560-0257 or send us an email at [email protected]  You can find out all about our programs for schools on our Schools Page.

Although we may not be quite as busy doing weekday shows in September as in other months, our weekends are always booked solid for us with all the fall festivals and birthday party shows and we do a lot of scout programs in the evening. You can check out which festivals we will be at on our Public Events Calendar.

More fall changes at Reptiles Alive include a new school assembly show called “Wetlands Alive!”, a new Honduran milk snake that has not yet been named, and a new assistant Animal Keeper we just hired – Amaya Perez.  Look for more information about the new show, animal, and keeper in future blog posts.

Happy Fall Everybody!!

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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.

Exploring Myakka River State Park

Located nine miles east of Sarasota FL, Myakka River State Park is one of the oldest and largest Florida state parks and protects one of the state´s most diverse natural areas.  On April 19, my Dad and I headed out for a day of hiking and picnicking with the hope of seeing a few cool Florida herp species.

We were in luck!  Wildlife was everywhere at this beautiful park.  At the picnic grounds, however, it was obvious that a few people had broken the rules against feeding wildlife because we were mobbed by cunning gray squirrels and even vultures as we enjoyed our delicious chips and sammies.

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Black Vulture at the Picnic!

Squirrels and vultures were not the only non-herps we saw that day however.  A Florida invader made his presence known as Dad and I hiked through the jungle.

Next, we found an animal that is native to both Florida and Virginia.

Florida’s most famous herp was abundant in the lakes and ponds in the park.

We also saw tons of anoles – mostly Cuban anoles which are an introduced species that has been displacing the naive Carolina anole from Florida.

After spending time hiking around the forest floor, it was time to head up, up, up into the canopy. We took a walk through the treetops and then climbed a 74-foot tower for an eagle’s-eye view of natural Floridian hammocks and wetlands.

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Dad and Caroline at the top of Florida

Whew, after all the hiking and climbing, we were both pretty tired. So we headed back to the house for some relaxing. And I found one more animal.

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Caroline and Catfish

For more information on visiting Myakka Lake State Park, visithttp://www.floridastateparks.org/myakkariver/default.cfm