Reptile Festival draws thousands of visitors
The Reptile Festival slithered its way back to the Virginia Museum of Natural History in Martinsville on Saturday, January 19 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., offering visitors a chance to view a spectacular array of animals, including a variety of cobras, rattlesnakes, and vipers.
"We really wanted this festival to have the wow factor that visitors have come to expect from our lineup of family festivals," said Zach Ryder, marketing and public relations manager for the Virginia Museum of Natural History. "The most frequent request we received from visitors at the museum's previous Reptile Festival was to display more venomous snakes. We took that request to heart and put together a lineup of animals that thrilled visitors."
Venomous snakes made an appearance at this year's festival, including:
- King Cobra
- Spitting Cobra
- Monocled Cobra
- Timber Rattlesnake
- Sidewinder Rattlesnake
- Black-tailed Rattlesnake
- Red Pygmy Rattlesnake
- Puff Adder
- Smooth Scaled Death Adder
- African Bush Viper
- Long-nose Viper
- Cantil Viper
- Eyelash Viper
- Large-eyed Tree Viper
- Northern Copperhead
- Broad banded Copperhead
"We were thrilled to have one of Virginia's leading reptile experts present at this year's festival," said Ryder. "Larry Mendoza, who represented the Virginia Herpetological Society, had an incredible amount of exotic reptiles and an equally impressive knowledge of the animals. Giving visitors the opportunity to interact with experts is an integral part of the festival experience."
Of course, no reptile festival would be complete without the return of crowd-favorite, Mark Kilby of the Luray Zoo. Kilby's energetic presentations have become a staple of the museum's Reptile Festival and he once again showed off some of the most iconic reptiles on Earth, including a king cobra, timber rattlesnake, gila monster, alligator, alligator snapping turtle, red-footed tortoise and others.
While the infamous king cobra and gila monster might grab the headlines, the festival had a variety of other reptiles that made this edition of Reptile Festival one of the most diverse yet, according to Ryder.
"We were very excited to bring back Roanoke-based Exotics and Aquatics to this year's festival," said Ryder. "It made its first-ever appearance at the last Reptile Festival and proved to be a hit with visitors. Exotics and Aquatics brought even more animals this year, from the more common ones, such as the red-tailed boa and bearded dragon, to the lesser known Argentine black and white tegu. Visitors even got to hold some of the animals."
In addition to live animals, Reptile Festival featureed a variety of specimens from the museum's scientific collections. Museum researchers were on hand to give visitors a better understanding of the science behind reptiles and how museum collections play an important role in herpetology.
Festival activities included a virtual reality experience provided by U.S. Cellular, as well as festival staples, such as balloon animals, temporary tattoos and a variety of children's games and crafts. Food and drinks were available for purchase at the museum's PALEO Café throughout the event, with reptile-themed items for sale in the Museum Store.
The Reptile Festival was sponsored by Bassett, Carter Bank & Trust, Hermes Family Fund, and U.S. Cellular.