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January 4, 2019

The Reptile Festival is slithering 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 we think will thrill visitors."

Venomous snakes that will make an appearance at this year's festival include:

  • 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're thrilled to have one of Virginia's leading reptile experts present at this year's festival," said Ryder. "Larry Mendoza, who is representing the Virginia Herpetological Society, has an incredible amount of exotic reptiles that he will be presenting 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 will once again be showing-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. Kilby's presentations are scheduled to take place at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m.

While the infamous king cobra and gila monster might grab the headlines, the festival has a variety of other reptilesthat will make the upcoming edition of Reptile Festival one of the most diverse yet, according to Ryder.

"We are 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 will be bringing 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 will even be able to hold some of the animals."

In addition to live animals, Reptile Festival will feature a variety of specimens from the museum's scientific collections.  Museum researchers will be 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 include 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 will be available for purchase at the museum's PALEO Café throughout the event, with reptile-themed items for sale in the Museum Store.

Admission to the festival is $7 for adults and $5 for children and youth ages 3-18. Admission is free for children under 3, museum members, and members of any ASTC Passport participating museum or science center.  Visitors who present an EBT card and accompanying ID at the museum box office receive reduced admission rates of $2 per adult (18+) and $1 per child (3-17).

Reptile Festival is sponsored by Bassett, Carter Bank & Trust, Hermes Family Fund, and U.S. Cellular.

For more information about the museum, visit
About the Virginia Museum of Natural History 
The Virginia Museum of Natural History in Martinsville seeks to increase understanding of, and appreciation for, the natural history of the Commonwealth through education, research, collections, publications and exhibits. The museum – an affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution – is accredited by the American Alliance of Museums, a distinction earned by fewer than 10 percent of museums in the United States. The museum is a member of the Association of Science-Technology Centers, Virginia Association of Museums, Heritage Preservation, and is an agency of the Secretary of Natural Resources for the Commonwealth of Virginia. The museum is open Monday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.,  From Memorial Day Weekend through Labor Day Weekend, the museum is open on Sundays from 1 to 5 p.m. The museum is closed all other Sundays, Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Year's Eve, and New Year’s Day. Admission is $7 for ages 19-59; $5 for children and youth ages 3-18, seniors 60+ and college students; members and children under 3 receive free admission.