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. 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.