Creatures of night, brought to light: The Reptile Zoo in Monroe, WA

On our trip to Leavenworth, we passed through Monroe, which I had always assumed was a town of little note. Not so! At one point, Evan looked over and gasped “Reptile zoo!” The two of us chorused louder than any child could manage from the backseat, “REPTILE ZOO!” and demanded that we stop and visit. Emily temporarily halted our pleading by suggesting that we could stop in on the return trip, a compromise to which we were both amenable. I looked up their website on my phone and discovered they had an albino alligator, whose name we decided would be “Chompy”. I further decided I wanted to ride him. Unfortunately, by the time we got back from Leavenworth, the Reptile Zoo was closed for the day, and I was a bit too tired to throw the mighty tantrum that sort of disappointment mandates. So, on New Year’s Eve, we made a special trip to the Reptile Zoo. I was so excited about this trip, I made up a special song and dance number entitled “Goin’ to the Reptile Zoo” which essentially looks like any of my other dances but involves the tuneless singing of “We…are…going to…THE REPTILE ZOO!” over the top, along with some fist-pumping.



After we finished fooling with the big snake carving out front, I noticed that there were signs everywhere about where one ought to deposit one’s gum. The Reptile Zoo, in fact, seemed more concerned about gum than all of my grade school teachers combined. What was the deal with the gum? Is gum inherently the anti-snake? Do iguanas seek out discarded gum when they want to blow bubbles but end up making a mess everywhere? Does someone loathe minty-fresh breath?





When we got inside and paid our entry fee, I asked the woman what was up with all the gum signs, because clearly there must be a big issue, right? Right? Someone died and gum was involved, right? Wrong. Apparently someone dropped some on the carpet once and it made a stain. I don’t know that carpet stains should be among their biggest concerns–after all, they’re sharing a room with the WORLD’S TEN DEADLIEST SNAKES!


…oh. Actually, devenomization is probably for the best. The owners are apparently a little blase when it comes to fang-based danger as some of the tanks had cracks in the glass or little holes that snakes were furiously poking at with their noses in an effort to wreak bitey havoc. Also, after the camel incident* and the tiger incident** and the goose incident*** and the seagull incident**** and the cat incidents*****…I am far better off when nearby animals are not only behind glass but also deweaponized as much as possible. Nearly all of the animals in open-top enclosures had signs indicating that they either might bite or will bite, and that sort of certainty keeps even me from putting my hands where they don’t belong.



Handwritten signs in marker only add to the feeling of danger. The only writing implement more dangerous-feeling is the crayon, because the crayon says you well and truly just do not give a fuck.


167757_484594303939_6311038_n This is Chompy’s less-popular relative, Chompy II.

168889_484594428939_6928246_n This dude was just hanging out in attack mode. Or he wanted all of us to check out his icky tongue, like the turtle equivalent of a flasher.

167781_484593918939_2042309_nI didn’t take a picture of the snake itself as it turns out that when they’re all lumped in on themselves, they look like big piles of dangerous dog doodoo.




167719_484594678939_7413180_n This, my friends, is Chompy the Albino Alligator. I made up a song for him on the spot, which, sung to the tune of “La Cucaracha”, goes like this: “My name is Chompy! I am an alligator! Bite bite bite bite bite bite bite!” Look how he’s smiling–he likes it! This song can be easily changed to fit other creatures–“My name is Squeezy! I am an anaconda! Hug hug hug hug hug hug hug!” or “My name is Slashy! I am a monitor! *theme from psycho*”  


164299_484594753939_6825551_n …Uh, apparently the male fell into some misfortune right around the time printer ink got expensive.

162636_484595178939_33244_n This guy had a sign on his cage warning visitors that he may look gentle and cuddly but in fact could rip your hand off if he so chose with his powerful jaws. Of course, he was in an open enclosure, and immediately after I walked away, some poor illiterate girl wandered over and squealed “OMIGOD he is like so cute, can I pet him?” …and then I waited for the hand-shearing to begin. 167211_484595223939_1679854_n Sadly, her more-literate boyfriend stopped her.

163156_484595258939_6541024_n …And some United States of Americans believe that Bigfoot might run off with their wives at any moment. Let’s not judge the whole area by one or two idiotic beliefs that consitute ‘fun facts’, yes?

 166689_484594013939_3671154_n   168934_484594838939_1968104_n

34823_484595008939_6908951_n   I kept attempting to get the cobras to spread their hoods, by gentle vocal encouragement and also via demonstration by putting my own hood up. They were having none of it. This group of snakes, who previously were all coiled in each other, all started intently staring in the same direction. What held their attention so? I have no idea, but it was pretty cool to see. 166277_484595553939_1966185_n


165665_484595798939_3587561_n They are fucking serious. Don’t tap on the glass, or it will send the animal inside into a Hulk-esque rage and it will break free to attack you.

166309_484595813939_3684619_n I lobbied pretty hard to bring Fluffls home with us.

164840_484595873939_79110_n Chompy Jr.

168100_484595883939_5913940_n Hands up! Who DOESN’T want coffee at the Coffee Corral now? Yeah, me neither.

Suddenly, one of the animals, realizing I had gone through two entire rooms full of beasts and had yet to experience an incident, tried his best to do his patriotic duty and leaped out of his enclosure toward freedom and mauling! 163906_484595893939_6215435_n However, he was quickly captured and put back inside to mope and plot. Another day, my friend, another day.  

167887_484595953939_7774300_n I like the increased certainty of biteyness as you get closer.

Every time we got near the turtles, they tried to demonstrate nature for us by humping. Or at least, the male did. The female was having none of it, and he would chase her around the pen, head bobbing. Each time he’d get close to achieving his aims, she’d turn around or some cockblocking kid would reach his hand in there to touch one or the both of them.

167211_484595973939_3478452_n This was his frustrated face.

I was inspired by this, and creeped up behind Emily, head bobbing. I’d just gotten my head bobbing over her shoulder when she half-turned, screamed, and nearly jumped out of her shoes, reprimanding me with an “I’m sorry, but that’s just a little too earnest of a turtle-fucking face.” Evan said that if she’d just turned all the way, she would have been safe, and it became a game for us for the rest of the day.

168110_484595698939_6515240_n Here comes a head-bobbing toward an unsuspecting victim!

Once we were done at the Reptile Zoo, our adventures were not over by a long shot, as the parking lot contained one of the 27 wonders of the new world–BBQ on a Bus. See, it’s BBQ. That you eat, get this, on a school bus! Nary a one of us had cash, and this freewheelin’ enterprise only accepted dead presidents, so we actually left and made a special trip to find an ATM so we could experience BBQ on a Bus. 166518_484596023939_1320719_n



There were no reptiles on the menu that I could see, so I’m not quite certain that there’s any connection between the Reptile Zoo and the BBQ Bus other than a stretch of parking lot and the city of Monroe deciding that its trashy roadside establishments should all be contained in one place, like a tiny carnival. 163126_484596273939_3276442_n


I got a delicious two-meat sandwich and a much-less-than-delicious Big Red soda. I was lured in as the proprietress said it came from Texas and couldn’t be described. I’ve got a description she can use from now on: “It tastes like stale bubblegum and the color red mated and had a horrific flavor baby that oozes over your tongue like a sugar-coated, candy-colored nightmare.” If she gave me that description, I would know not to choose that beverage. Maybe it’s precisely the sort of refreshment someone else is looking for, but has never been able to find. It’s possible! Maybe. Not only could we eat on the bus, but we could also play on the bus with the scads of magnetic letters coating the roof. We furthermore learned that the problem with escapees at the Reptile Zoo was not limited to today–they’ve had both turtles and snakes wander off into the fields, ne’er to be seen again. Once again, devenomizing was probably the right choice.



163749_484596253939_5799859_n Evan does not approve.

In conclusion, Monroe is a land of many wonders. At least two. *Nipplebiter! **Attempted mauling through glass! ***Attempted de-facing via beak attack! ****Hair pooper! *****Bastards.

51 Comments Creatures of night, brought to light: The Reptile Zoo in Monroe, WA

  1. playmoby January 4, 2011 at 7:31 pm

    I kept attempting to get the cobras to spread their hoods, by gentle vocal encouragement and also via demonstration by putting my own hood up. They were having none of it.

    this is why I love you!!! hehe. We always see the reptile zoo when we are heading over Steven’s Pass and always vow to go back another day, and have yet to fulfill that vow…. now we know it’s a must! haha.

    Also, a BBQ bus????! Aweeeeeeesome.

    1. admin January 4, 2011 at 7:37 pm

      If you think reptiles are neat, it’s definitely worth a trip!

      1. playmoby January 4, 2011 at 7:40 pm

        yeah, Im still in mourning for not being able to try the “international burger” establishment that was on Ehli hill down in the Bonney Lake area… so I should probably haul my family out there to Monroe.. LOL

        1. admin January 4, 2011 at 7:42 pm

          Shit, I’m upset that I only got to eat there once. My belly hungers for exotic meat burgers!

          1. playmoby January 4, 2011 at 7:45 pm

            That location cant hold much, mainly just due to the location. It used to be a “winery” for YEARS and years…. It used to be owned by a group of brothers.. along with a couple other restraunts in the area… peaches and creme (gone) and coco Joes (gone too :()

            I guess one of them died a couple years ago, and the remaining brothers sold off all the properties. Before the “winery” closed, the upstairs was a HUGE model train showroom thing. I only went once, and was sad when it was gone…

            C’est la vie, i guess.

          2. admin January 4, 2011 at 7:50 pm

            Yeah, it’s a supremely shitty location, especially since it can only be accessed when traveling in one direction–very few people are going to go a few miles ahead to make the u-turn to get back to it unless they were SPECIFICALLY making a trip to go there.

          3. playmoby January 4, 2011 at 7:55 pm

            Yup. it sucked. Not to mention the winery had exremely overpriced food for what you got (my parents went there a few times) and that was there for so long, the same mantra just stands around, no matter what resteraunt is there. plus surpremely shitty location.

  2. scearley January 4, 2011 at 7:34 pm

    I hate big red. I have no idea why it’s available up here.

    You know it’s a shitty house party when someone asks if it’s available as a mixer.

    1. admin January 4, 2011 at 7:38 pm

      Uuuuuuuugh it was truly awful. I couldn’t get more than a sip down without gagging, and even that was a struggle.

      1. scearley January 4, 2011 at 7:49 pm

        Try it warm. Alternately, use it as a punishment.

        1. admin January 4, 2011 at 7:55 pm

          Time to buy a case and a chair with restraints!

          1. scearley January 4, 2011 at 8:05 pm

            That’s exactly what I was thinking. Someone’s been naughty. Very naughty indeed.

  3. weaselmom January 4, 2011 at 8:11 pm

    They’re a fine group of folks at the Serpentarium. Thank you for not walking down the arachnid aisle and, most importantly, for not photographing it. They get a *lot* of calls from people trying to surrender reptiles to them. (Apparently caimans are pretty thick on the ground.) They have (or had) a calm, good-natured black snake (NOT a mamba) that they would let people hold. The chances of me ever doing that are somewhere between “not” and “fucking likely,” but it was pretty in a fetishy kind of way.

    1. admin January 4, 2011 at 8:27 pm

      Oh, we walked through the arachnid aisle, but I couldn’t take pictures because I was far too busy imagining the sort of crunching sound they would make beneath my shoe.

  4. cuntress January 4, 2011 at 8:19 pm

    I took Inara there when she was about 18 months old… you know, edible size. All she wanted to do was watch those damned tortoises screw. We’re probably going tomorrow for her b-day. Josh will be pleased that they have Big Red. He loves that stuff… though I’ve never had it from a can… maybe it’s better from a bottle?

    1. admin January 4, 2011 at 8:28 pm

      Tortises: horny animal or the horniest animal?

      1. cuntress January 4, 2011 at 9:20 pm

        Horniest. 3 years and still humping. My photo won’t imbed… must not be tortoise-horny. 🙁


  5. yimmy149 January 4, 2011 at 8:30 pm

    I always wondered if you could get gator at the BBQ place, but have never been brave enough to pull over. Thanks for answering this life-long question. I didn’t even know it was a BBQ bus!

    1. admin January 4, 2011 at 9:05 pm

      I’m pretty disappointed you can’t get gator at the BBQ place, to be honest.

      1. mschilepepper January 4, 2011 at 10:01 pm

        I’ve eaten alligator. It wasn’t all that exciting, kinda chewy and a little fishy tasting.

        1. admin January 5, 2011 at 12:20 am

          I didn’t necessarily expect it to be exciting, I just want to be able to say I’ve eaten it.

          1. mschilepepper January 5, 2011 at 12:47 am

            You mean it wasn’t a party in your mouth? Sad. 🙁

            Incidentally, I have a Christmanewyear gifty for you, so we should hook up some time when I’m not making like Typhoid Mary. I have a cold. Thanks, brother dear!

          2. admin January 5, 2011 at 1:53 am

            I’ve never had it, I’m just saying that when I *do*, I don’t think it will be a party. At least not a BIG party.

            Let me know when you’re not Little Miss Disease Vector and we’ll hang! We still need to go to that bikini barista stand.

          3. mschilepepper January 5, 2011 at 12:49 am

            Also, the “poisonous snakes” signs make me sad and twitchy. You’d think they would know the difference between venomous and poisonous.

          4. admin January 5, 2011 at 1:55 am

            Maybe they don’t expect their clientele to know the word venomous?

          5. mschilepepper January 5, 2011 at 2:00 am

            Mmmmmmaybe, but then they use the word “devenomized” which doesn’t even seem like a real word. All the signs make me twitchy.

            Like at the Mutter Museum in Philly. If I lived there, I’d friggin’ volunteer just so I could make their damn signs legible. Ugh, TYPEWRITER signage? Really?

          6. admin January 5, 2011 at 2:07 am

            I loved the Mutter Museum but I always left there with a blinding headache from reading their signs and squinting through their strange, wavy glass.

      2. yimmy149 January 4, 2011 at 11:23 pm

        There is a place on Bothell-Everett highway that advertises gator BBQ. I’ve never tried it.

        1. admin January 5, 2011 at 12:20 am

          I want to say that the place you’re talking about is Caspers BBQ, and it is sadly closed.

  6. princessgeek January 4, 2011 at 9:01 pm

    I really like old school BBQ! There is other stuff in Monroe that is awesome but I’m not telling.

    1. admin January 4, 2011 at 9:05 pm

      But if you don’t tell me, how will I find out about it? 🙁

      1. princessgeek January 5, 2011 at 1:52 am

        well, the grocery outlet has a great cheese selection.

        1. admin January 5, 2011 at 1:54 am

          There are a couple of those by me–I would tend to agree about the cheese section!

  7. 1_rhiannon_1 January 4, 2011 at 9:56 pm

    OK, this whole post is just made of awesome!

    1. admin January 5, 2011 at 12:21 am

      I try not to bore people’s pants off. 🙂

      1. 1_rhiannon_1 January 5, 2011 at 2:08 pm

        You do good work – your entries amuse me greatly 😀

  8. g33kgrrl January 4, 2011 at 10:35 pm

    I love reptiles! Great photos! I have pictures of tortoises humping from the East Bay Vivarium; tortoises must do it a lot. Who knew? Also alligator snapping turtles do hang out like that – the one at the Shedd does all the time. I think the icky tongue is meant to resemble a lure and when a small fish or whatever investigates it, bam! Dinner.

    I really like that snake or lizard or whatever with horns over its eyes.

    1. admin January 5, 2011 at 12:22 am

      If it had been in the wild, I would have lost a finger, as I absolutely thought his tongue lure was a little fish wriggling in there and my first instinct was to poke at it.

      The one with the horns over its eyes is a snake. 🙂

      1. g33kgrrl January 5, 2011 at 5:40 am

        Evolution at work! I mean on the tongue, not on you potentially losing a finger. That’s why we evolved signs. Signs that say “don’t stick your finger in.”

        1. admin January 5, 2011 at 4:14 pm

          Technically, me losing a finger from idiocy, running around screaming spurting blood until I pass out from shock and die would go right along with ‘survival of the fittest’.

          1. g33kgrrl January 5, 2011 at 4:18 pm

            Well sure, but I didn’t want you to think I’d use an exclamation mark and be all excited about that prospect. Unlike wiggly turtle tongues.

  9. technophobe1975 January 4, 2011 at 10:43 pm

    I was waiting to see a “GUM CHEWERS WILL BE FED TO THE ALLIGATOR” notice!

    1. argonel January 4, 2011 at 11:50 pm

      They won’t actually feed gum chewers to the alligator, it might give it indegestion. Instead gum chewers will be tied down for the turtles to rape.

      1. admin January 5, 2011 at 12:26 am

        I hope they’ll have been divested of their gum first.

        1. argonel January 5, 2011 at 1:09 am

          They give the gum to the turtles as lube.

  10. shadowstitch January 5, 2011 at 12:12 am

    Wait wait wait…. not a single word about the TWO HEADED TURTLE?

    1. admin January 5, 2011 at 12:19 am

      I posted a picture, didn’t I? WHAT MORE DO YOU WANT FROM ME!?

  11. thecostumegal January 5, 2011 at 3:52 am

    Wow pretty aminals. I <3 snakes, I probably would have been the person to reach inside and get bitten, and thus causing someone to scribble warnings hastily with marker on a torn off piece of printer paper and affix them to too tiny tanks.

    1. admin January 5, 2011 at 5:15 am

      Lots of the snakes were really beautiful–the one Emily is having a bonding moment with through the glass I was particularly captivated by. It looked like an oil slick gliding through its tank.

  12. aquariumspast January 5, 2011 at 2:17 pm

    That gliding snake is very cool … its prey in the wild probably doesn’t think so…

    Did somebody actually kick their way into the BBQ on a Bus or is that how they got the bus?

    And who certifies the devenomization? Maybe they just say that to make the locals feel better…

  13. Kate Dircksen November 20, 2013 at 2:20 pm

    I’m carrying out explore on snakes, are you aware of the largest snake?

Comments are closed.