Preparing for Winter: Reptiles & Amphibians

The Greensboro Science Center is home to a number of reptiles and amphibians, including four awesome Aldabra tortoises! Although they live at the GSC all year long, during your winter visit, you won’t see these guys out and about in our zoo.

As cold-blooded animals, Aldabra tortoises need warm weather to stay healthy. When temperatures dip below about 60 degrees, they remain inside their blockhouses where the temperature is maintained at a toasty 80 degrees and where they have access to heat lamps and UV lamps.

You probably notice in your very own backyard that you don’t see turtles, snakes, frogs, and the like during winter. Many of these animals hibernate during the colder months. If you see one around as the temperatures begin to cool, the best thing to do is to leave it alone. If the animal is in an unsafe location, you can move it to a brushy area where it can burrow and hide. To help local reptiles and amphibians, you can create brush piles in your yard where they can stay warm and safe through winter!

It’s COLD Outside!

There’s no denying it. It’s just plain cold outside today. When the temperatures drop, Greensboro Science Center visitors tend to (understandably) plan their day around access to heat and hot coffee. So, for those of you who are considering a visit this winter, we thought we’d help you out by answering a common question we receive this time of year: What’s the best way to enjoy the Greensboro Science Center when cold temperatures arrive?

We recommend starting your day in The Fresh Market Café with a cup of hot coffee and maybe a muffin to warm up after the chilly trek in from the parking lot. From there, take some time to explore the museum while you wait for the temperatures to warm up. Starting in the lower level of the museum, check out some amazing reptiles and amphibians – from an ancient alligator snapping turtle to colorful (and quick) dart frogs, there are a variety of animals to learn about and enjoy. Don’t miss a visitor favorite – the two-headed turtle!

Triceratops in the Dinosaur Gallery


Upstairs, you’ll have the chance to enter an ancient world as you stand next to a T. rex, stegosaurus and triceratops in the dinosaur gallery. Check out some amazing fossils from different eras in our planet’s history and watch some entertaining and educational short videos featuring Indiana Bones!

In the Extreme Weather Gallery, you can experience all types of extreme weather… including bitter cold… without setting food outside! Grab a Category 5 hurricane with your bare hands, attract electricity as you reach for lightning and feel the force of a tornado as you explore the fury and fun of Mother Nature.

In HealthQuest, you can explore your insides with entertaining and educational interactive experiences. Pick a giant nose, smell intestinal gas and force vomit from a gut… all in the name of science, of course. After learning about how the choices you make effect your health, take a break for a nutritious lunch at The Fresh Market Café.

In the afternoon, if the chill doesn’t keep you indoors, make your way out to Animal Discovery Zoo. Keep in mind as you’re visiting that if it’s really chilly, many animals may be in the indoor part of their exhibits. Several species are just like you; they don’t want to be outside in these cold temperatures all day. Many of our animals enjoy access to their heated homes and some – like crocodiles and tortoises – will stay inside all winter for their safety…. they simply weren’t made to withstand cold temperatures.

On the coldest days, tigers may be the only outdoor exhibit where you’re likely to see animals. The Discovery House, home to small, friendly mammals, birds, and reptiles, is also open for visitors to enjoy. Docents may be on hand to allow guests to touch some of our friendly critters.

Tiger in snow

Tiger in snow

Cold afternoons are a great time to sit back, relax and take in a film. The OmniSphere Theater offers a different show each hour. From undersea exploits to sky-high adventures, there are a variety of films to choose from. The schedule changes several times throughout the year, so be sure to check our website for the current schedule.

And even though it’s cold outside, it’s always warm in the SciQuarium! Wrap up your day enjoying the antics of African penguins, rare fishing cats and a Caribbean reef community featuring sharks, stingrays, eels and more. You’ll want to be sure to catch at least one Animal Experience – for example, a penguin feeding, otter enrichment or shark feeding. Although the schedule is subject to change, you can find our daily schedule on our website.

Fish in Amazon Edge

Fish in Amazon Edge

So, back to the question at hand… What’s the best way to enjoy the Greensboro Science Center when cold temperatures arrive? In short, we recommend you wear a hat, bring your family along, and experience the indoor offerings you’re often too busy to enjoy when visiting in warmer weather!