Wilmington's Walk On The Wild Side!
Exotic Snakes From Around The World In One Location Near Wilmington's River Walk


Some visitors are amazed by what they see. Others become stricken with a near instinctive sense of dread. They may gasp or utter an interjection under their breath. These are typical responses that giant snakes are likely to receive from visitors who have likely not seen such exotic reptiles here in North Carolina. 


Most area residents may be surprised to discover one of the largest snake exhibits to be found anywhere is here in eastern North Carolina. These snakes are not just indigenous to our state, but are from every corner of the globe and many of these specimens are among the world’s most deadly.


Located in Downtown Wilmington, Cape Fear Serpentarium exhibits one of the finest reptile collections—all indoors—for visitors observe. Inside is surroundings that mimic those found in nature, however all reptiles of course are kept at a safe distance and secure behind glass with visitor safety considered.


Stroll through and you’ll stare death in the face as a giant King Cobra—capable of killing an adult elephant—rears up within inches of you, separated only by the glass enclosure. See dreaded Black Mambas, Spitting Cobras and the eerily exotic Gaboon Vipers. See rattlesnakes, Fer-de-lance specimens and the rarely seen Bushmaster, which can reach 12 feet in length.


There is much more to see in the 6,000+ square feet, two-story gallery of reptiles located near the Cape Fear River in the historic downtown district of the port city. Visitors will see crocodiles, large monitor lizard, a massive Anaconda and an impressive 22 ft. long python weighing more than 250 pounds.


The unique Serpentarium is the brainchild of Dean Ripa, creator and director of the facility. Ripa has spent more than two decades researching reptiles, traveling around the world and has lived through ten venomous snakebites. Ripa has survived not one, but four Bushmaster bites, which sinks its inch-long fangs into its victims and injects its lethal poison. He has been bitten more times by Bushmasters than anyone else known. Even with anti-venom, approximately 80 percent of victims die from just a single bite! Ripa not only has lived to tell about it, he presents these amazing creatures to curious visitors every day.


Perhaps the Serpentarium isn’t for the faint of heart (or those that fear snakes), but it is sure to leave a lasting impression on practically every visitor who wants to walk on the wild side!


Cape Fear Serpentarium is open daily throughout the summer. Hours are 11 am to 5 pm. Admission is $8.00 with group rates available. The street address is 20 Orange Street and the facility’s phone number is (910) 762-1669.