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September 21, 2013

The Reptile Day family festival is slithering its way back to the Virginia Museum of Natural History on Saturday, September 21 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., giving festival attendees the chance to view many of the cold-blooded creatures that call Virginia and North Carolina home, as well as the chance to see some of the most well-known and feared reptiles from around the world.

Reptile Day presents a unique opportunity for visitors to see over 200 live snakes and other reptiles, while allowing presenters to demonstrate that reptiles play a critical role in the environment and, most often, a harmless role in peoples' day-to-day lives.  Visitors are also allowed the opportunity to handle a variety of the animals on display.

“I want people to learn their importance to the environment and their importance to people,” said Mark Kilby, operator of the Luray Zoo in Luray, Virginia, noting that snakes in particular are not mean and overly aggressive like many people believe, but are actually gentle creatures.

Kilby has been a Reptile Day staple, wowing audiences with his presentations that have previously included a king cobra, black mamba, giant snapping turtle, alligator and more.  This year, Kilby's alligator and reptile presentations will take place from 11:30 a.m. to noon and from 2 to 2:30 p.m.

Throughout the day, animal experts will display hundreds of live reptiles and amphibians that range from venomous snakes to tiny frogs.  Keith Farmer, of the North Carolina Herpatological Society, will be providing a large variety of snakes and reptiles that are native to Virginia, North Carolina, and the surrounding region.  Other displays include Reptile Rescue, Reptiles of Virginia, specimens from the museum's collections, and a special viewing of a female albino Burmese python.

In addition to Mark Kilby's presentations, the festival offers several other presentations throughout the day.  Meredith Swartwout, from Virginia Tech, will present "Virginia Snakes" from 10:30 to 11 a.m. and  "Poisonous Snakes in Virginia" from 1 to 1:30 p.m.  Additionally, Keith Farmer will make a special presentation from 3 to 3:30 p.m. titled "Snake Mythconceptions", providing visitors with the facts regarding the true nature of snakes.

The museum will offer a variety of reptile-themed games and crafts throughout the day provided by VMNH educators and volunteers.  Food and drinks will also be provided for an additional cost at the museum's PALEO Café.

Admission to the festival is $5/adults, $4/senior citizens and college students, $3/children 3-18, and free for children under 3 and museum members.  Admission also grants visitors access to all of the museum’s exhibit galleries.

For more information regarding the festival, including a schedule of events, visit