Rattlesnakes, copperheads, pythons, tortoises, and many additional live reptiles are set to take the spotlight during Reptile Festival at the Virginia Museum of Natural History (VMNH) in Martinsville on Friday, April 21 and Saturday, April 22 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. each day. The festival – which aims to educate visitors about the importance of reptiles and dispel misconceptions about these often misunderstood animals – also offers visitors the opportunity to interact with reptile experts and participate in a wide variety of festival activities ranging from reptile-themed crafts to balloon animals and face painting.
“Reptile Festival will definitely provide museum visitors with the wow factor,” said VMNH Visitor Services & Events Manager Robbie Hendrix-Wirt. “Among many other offerings, the event will feature an incredible lineup of live animals on exhibit, which includes some of the most iconic reptiles from right here in our neck of the woods and throughout the world.”
Some of the live animals scheduled to appear at Reptile Festival include:
Tangerine/Albino Western Diamondback Rattlesnake
Eastern Rat Snake
Leucistic Rat Snake
King/Corn Snake Hybrid
Louisiana Pine Snake
Jaguar Carpet Python
Calabar Burrowing Python
African Egg-eating Snake
Crowned Leafnose Snake
Argentine Black and White Tegu
Alligator Snapping Turtle
American Snapping Turtle
Cherry Head Red-footed Tortoise
African Spurred (Sulcata) Tortoise
The festival also features some of the region’s most prolific reptile experts, including the museum’s very own Assistant Curator of Herpetology Dr. Arianna Kuhn, who will be one of multiple presenters providing live stage shows during the event. A complete list of presenters and show times will be made available on the museum’s website prior to the festival.
Reptile Festival also features the return of crowd favorite exhibitor Larry Mendoza of the Virginia Herpetological Society.
“Larry Mendoza amazed visitors during the museum’s last Reptile Festival with his incredible exhibit of live reptiles, and we’re thrilled to have him on-board to exhibit again this year,” said Hendrix-Wirt. “Not only does he have an impressive lineup of live reptiles, but he also possesses an equally impressive knowledge of the animals.”
In addition to live animals and stage shows, Reptile Festival will feature a variety of preserved specimens from the collections of the American Museum of Natural History in New York, as well as the museum’s own collections. Reptile-themed games and crafts will take place throughout the day and will include festival staples, such as balloon animals and face painting. Food trucks will also be on-site throughout both days of the event serving drinks, snacks and lunch items.
Unlike previous Reptile Festivals, this year’s event will take place both indoors and outdoors, with live stage shows taking place outside along with on-site food trucks.
“This year’s festival will take place indoors and outdoors,” said Hendrix-Wirt. “The festival has grown significantly in terms of the number of visitors who attend and the number of exhibits and activities for visitors to experience.”
Admission to the festival is included in the price of general museum admission. Museum admission is $10 per adult ages 18-59 and $5 for children and youth ages 3-17, seniors ages 60+, and college students. Admission is free for children under 3, museum members, and members of museums and science centers that participate in the ASTC Passport program.
The museum also participates in the Institute for Museum and Library Services (IMLS) Museums for All initiative, offering discounted admission to Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) participants. Through this program and additional funding provided by Hooker Furnishings and Carter Bank & Trust, visitors who present their EBT card and accompanying ID at the museum’s box office will receive free admission to the festival.
Parking for the event is free of charge and will take place off-site. Parking details will be made available on the museum’s website prior to the festival.
Reptile Festival is sponsored by the Helen S. and Charles G. Patterson, Jr. Charitable Foundation Trust, Community Foundation Serving Western Virginia, Bassett Furniture Industries, Carter Bank & Trust, and SOVAH Health.
For more information about the festival, visit www.vmnh.net/events/reptile-festival.