TRAVELING EXHIBIT: Live Interactive Michigan Reptiles & Amphibians

With 40 combined species of Michigan-native snakes, turtles, lizards, frogs and salamanders Nature Discovery’s interactive exhibit features the largest such collection in the state! It is automatically a huge hit where ever we go. The exhibit is set up inside at nature centers, museums, libraries, fairs or schools, and even at outside events, weather-permitting, between May and September.

child looking in tank

The exhibit is a popular addition to school science nights, where either an interactive full or partial exhibit can be set up and staffed for a 90-minute to two-hour duration. Either exhibit size can also be set up at events that last up to a full day or even multiple days at the same location.

The full exhibit includes about 14 aquariums occupying up to 42 feet of table space, as well as pools of swimming turtles on the floor. Interpretive signs and posters give users applicable information related to identification, behavior, ecology and conservation issues. We strive to keep the ‘habitat’ within each tank similar to the natural habitat in which the given animals are typically found. It’s no wonder that we receive comments on the beauty of the tanks, and the health of our well-maintained specimens. Our friendly and knowledgeable staff is always on hand to answer questions and discuss any of the species on display in detail, thus making the experience interactive, informative and personal for visitors of all ages.

People looking at tanks

All ten species of MICHIGAN-NATIVE TURTLES (what we call The Grand Slam of Michigan Turtles!) are displayed swimming and basking freely in two pools situated on the floor (or on the ground outside) at one end of the exhibit, along with a small tank that houses a terrestrial Eastern Box Turtle. Visitors are given food sticks to drop into the water so they can watch the turtles eat.

Ten or twelve species of MICHIGAN-NATIVE SNAKES occupy several tanks of varying sizes. Many of the medium to large species are taken out in rotation to allow visitors a more personal hands-on experience. All are gentle, relaxed and easy to hold. For anyone who feels some level of discomfort with snakes, this may be the most benign setting available to dispel misconceptions and to gain a first-hand understanding of their unthreatening reality.

a frog

About twelve species of MICHIGAN-NATIVE FROGS are displayed in several tanks according to size. The huge Bull Frogs occupy their own tank. Visitors watch staff drop worms, crickets and other insects into the frogs and excitedly watch them get snatched up. We will also allow visitors to drop a cricket to the frogs on request, or at outdoor events, encourage kids to catch their own insect to feed to a frog.

a Tiger Salamander

About six species of MICHIGAN-NATIVE SALAMANDERS are exhibited in a few tanks. The completely aquatic Mudpuppies occupy one tank. Others occupy tanks with natural turf or moss substrate. Salamanders that are kept in a natural terrestrial tank pose a special exhibiting problem. If not provided a hiding place they quickly dig into the substrate and out of sight. By placing a piece of bark atop the substrate, the salamanders are content to hide under it. A sign in front of each tank instructs visitors to reach in and carefully lift the bark to view the salamanders underneath it.

FEEDING FRENZY! There is a reason that feeding time is so popular at the zoo. People of all ages like to watch animals eat. There is a special fascination with viewing a predator-prey relationship in the flesh – a live link to the food chain right before their eyes. If time and space allow, we regularly pull out any number of snakes, a Bull Frog, or a Box Turtle to be fed on the floor or on the ground surrounded by visitors. A crowd forms quickly! We also feed fruit and thawed frozen mice to some of the animals.

If budget or space are an issue, PARTIAL & MINI EXHIBITS are also available. The Partial exhibit typically encompasses 16 feet of table space, including a pool of turtles on the floor and features up to twenty species. It is operated by two staff people. The Mini exhibit occupies one 8-foot table, features about 10-12 species and is operated by a single staff person. We can collaborate with the client as to what species they’d like us to have on hand: Michigan Snakes, Michigan Turtles, Michigan Frogs/Amphibians or a mix of reptiles and amphibians.

For more details about our live exhibits check out this column in our February 2020 newsletter.


Full Exhibit

First two hours (minimum fee): $450. Each additional hour: $100. Each additional day at same location: $100/hr.

Partial Exhibit

First two hours (minimum fee): $325. Each additional hour: $80.

Mini Exhibit

First two hours (minimum fee): $180. Each additional hour: $60.

Mileage Fee

$.75/mile, round trip.