A n00bs guide to herping

Discussion in 'Field Herping and Reptile Studies' started by waruikazi, Apr 20, 2011.

  1. waruikazi

    waruikazi Legendary

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    There was a little bit of interest coming out of Michaels http://www.aussiepythons.com/forum/general-reptile-discussion-42/colour-159804/ thread for a bit of a guide to field herping. I thought it would be a good idea to help some people get started. In this thread I’ll talk about some of the things you should do to get going and what works for me. It really is easy to get started and to work out.

    Equipment

    There is only one absolutely essential item

    · A good field guide! I use ‘A Complete Guide to Australian Reptiles’ by Wilson and Swan.

    [​IMG]


    It cost about $50 and can be bought from Jonno at Herp Books. http://www.herpbooks.com.au/cms/field-guides.html?page=shop.product_details&flypage=flypage.tpl&product_id=176&category_id=3

    This is not the only guide that will do, you could go for a more local guide but I have found it to be the best and it covers every Aussie reptile with great pictures, locality maps and identifying information.

    Safety equipment:

    · Two pressure bandages (cause they usually aren’t long enough to cover a leg). You should not be putting yourself in a position to get bitten, but accidents happen and you should be prepared.

    · Mobile phone

    · Bug spray and long sleeves, nothing makes a trip more horrible than mozzies so thick you can’t breathe.

    · Tell someone where you are going and when to expect you back! Not really equipment but extremely good advice if you do run into trouble.

    Lighting:

    · A torch- Torches are not created equal, spend some money! I use a led lenser P7 was $90 and it is awesome!

    · A headlamp- Again, spend some money! I use a led lenser head lamp which cost around $80.
    If you can’t afford both then go a torch, they are easier and have a lot more applications.


    Handling/catching equipment:

    · NOTHING! You are not out to catch animals, you are out to look at them. Besides if you already know how to handle a dangerous elapid then you already know what to use. I don’t need to tell you.

    Camera:

    · Anything will do! I lost my little point and squirt so now I just use my phone.

    A diary

    · I’ll cover this in more detail below


    Choosing your location

    This is what I have found most people want to know and this can be the hardest advice to give because there are no hard and fast rules.
    My advice is:

    Stay away from people- obviously the less developed an area is the more likely you are to find wildlife.

    Don’t go too far- stay somewhere reasonably close to home. Herping can take a long long time, the less time spent travelling the better.

    Do not trespass- make sure you are allowed to be in the area you are working. I did it accidently once and I had the coppers roll up to work one day. It wasn’t fun!

    Look after your location! Don’t leave rubbish, replace anything you move and keep it secret from anyone who you think might go out and poach! Natural habitats are fast dying in Australia, we don’t need to speed the process up.

    There are some things to look for in a location. Interfaces between two different habitats are wildlife hot spots! For example areas where a swamp meets the bush, or where escarpment comes down to meet the scrub should produce good results. You will be able to find species that inhabit both habitats. Even areas that have been partially cleared, follow the line that has been cleared close to the bush and you should get results.

    Water attracts everything. Rivers, beaches, swamps, lakes, sewerage farms and even swimming pools will give you better results than areas without (generally). This rings true especially in dry arid zones, a relocator that I knew in Alice told me once that 9 out of 10 call outs were to houses with swimming pools. The other 1 out of 10 had neighbours swimming pools.

    Structure is important particularly in areas that are barren. A pile of rocks, rubbish, iron or anything that is a little out of the ordinary will attract animals.

    Driving or walking
    To this I say either. Think about the species you are looking for, if you’re hoping to find small animals then walking is probably best. If you don’t care or are looking for larger animals over larger areas then driving could be best. Think about the area you are herping, if it is a road then driving or even riding a bike might suit better, but if you are in the scrub it is best to leave your car behind.

    I do both, during the day I often walk but at night I usually drive. For me it is a bit safer that way.


    The best times to go

    There are no best times to go. Different species like different things, you can find something at any time of the day or night. But use your head, if it is 45 degrees outside in the middle of the day you probably won’t find much sitting on the road. And if it is -10 degrees in the middle of the night it’s the same story.

    My advice is get a diary. Write down the times you go, when and what you find and ALL of the conditions. Humidity, cloud cover, rain, temps and all that jazz and go out to the same place as often as you can! Give it a year and you will know what is there and when you can find it. And remember not finding something is as important as finding something, record in your diary if you get nothing!


    In summary!


    I try to go out for an hour every night. I’ve been doing it in my area for over a year now and I can quite confidently predict when and where to find nearly every snake species we get in our area. The most important thing is to get out there, enjoy it, be safe and look after your surroundings.

    I hope that helps some n00bs who want to get into it. Please ask any questions or add any info I have missed out.
     
    Last edited: Apr 20, 2011
    Bl69aze likes this.
  2. Snakeluvver2

    Snakeluvver2 Suspended Banned

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    This is great!
    One thing I would say is some good shoes.
    Some basic boots if your dealing with elapids or going for a wet walk.

    Although I always wear thongs :D
     
  3. waruikazi

    waruikazi Legendary

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    Oh man that looked so much better in microsoft word!
     
  4. Red-Ink

    Red-Ink Very Well-Known Member

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    Thanks Gordo!!!!!
     
  5. snakeluvver

    snakeluvver Very Well-Known Member

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    Thanks, will help me a lot :)
     
  6. Renenet

    Renenet Very Well-Known Member

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    That's fantastic, Waruikazi - thanks for taking the time to do this.
     
  7. saximus

    saximus Almost Legendary

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    Gordo you're a champion!
     
  8. Jackrabbit

    Jackrabbit Subscriber Subscriber

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    I think I might go for a walk this weekend, thanks
     
  9. guzzo

    guzzo Very Well-Known Member

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    Very very good Gordo, V well put together......I am going to get that very book!!
     
  10. I have that book, its great :)
    Thanks for sharing Waruikazi, very well done
     
  11. MathewB

    MathewB Very Well-Known Member

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    Great guide! I got this one book marked hehe
    Is it better to go day or night?
     
  12. Grogshla

    Grogshla Very Well-Known Member

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    YOU ARE THE MAN.
    thanks for all the advice.
     
  13. $NaKe PiMp

    $NaKe PiMp Very Well-Known Member

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    man i so didnt go about herping when i started as child by the book.
    In later years i was exactly the same but my focus became narrower and involved targeting elapids and catching them,there was no looking if you looked you would catch a glimpse before the black or brown sped off dissapering into the grass or blackberry bushes,and i didnt like that.

    Luckily most people are diferent and prefer to observe and there are plenty of species everywhere if you just keep looking and keep trying,and never give up just go another time if you dont see anything this time sooner or later you will be finding more and more things.

    oh always carry bandages,and mobile most important things and water. I was a boy scout and they taught us to be prepared
     
  14. waruikazi

    waruikazi Legendary

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    That is something you need to work out for yourself. It depends on your interests, your location, time of year and the species you are looking for. Do a bit of research on the species you have an interest in. Are they diurnal, nocturnal or crepuscular? The feild guide i mentioned has most of this info. Go herping when the books say they are active and don't give up.

    Haha i was the same growing up, i was a wild pinner. Still never got bitten though! I remember the first lizard i caught, was a tiny little skink on a spring day in South Australia. But i also remember looking for snakes at school one recess time in year 3 with two of my firends. They both got bitten and spent a couple days in hospital, but i was too agile lol.
     
  15. saximus

    saximus Almost Legendary

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    Like a ninja! :p
     
  16. waruikazi

    waruikazi Legendary

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    Lol no not like a ninja at all! I used to do the old slap and grab. I'd slap my hand down as hard on their head as i could and pick them up in a wild choke hold. But after seeing my friends copy me, making a mess of it and nearly dieing i decided it wasn't a real good idea and lost all my confidence. It was another 7 or 8 years before i caught another snake after that!
     
  17. Perko

    Perko Well-Known Member

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    Great thread Gordo.
    If i can add anything it would be to try & go with someone more experianced than you, you learn so much, in the mid 90's i was lucky to go to the Gulf country with 3 very experianced herpers, i learnt more in that week than in my previous 15 or so years keeping reps.
     
  18. Wild~Touch

    Wild~Touch Very Well-Known Member

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    Be prepared in case of an emergency....an emergency PLAN is a good option. Hope to hell it never needs to be used.

    Someone near & dear to me was bitten and everyone else at the scene ran around like headless chooks.

    yeah, yeah ... I am a silly ol' mumma :)
     
  19. SYNeR

    SYNeR Suspended Banned

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    Awesome guide. I've always wanted to go herping around Central Coast and Newcastle, so may now give it a go.. Just need to find some good places.
     
  20. saximus

    saximus Almost Legendary

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    I think this should be made into a sticky
    its been done
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 23, 2011

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