A n00bs guide to herping

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

  1. Kyro

    Kyro Very Well-Known Member

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    Just wanted to add if you plan on going a long distance from help then your mobile phone may not get reception so take an EPERB(electronic positioning emergency radio beacon). You can buy them or hire them.
     
  2. waruikazi

    waruikazi Legendary

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    I agree, but the reason i didn't put that up is because anyone who is planning a trip like that would most likely be well experienced and already have themselves set up.
     
  3. Jonno from ERD

    Jonno from ERD Very Well-Known Member

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    Good thread, Gordo.

    We regularly get asked for some "good spots" or to take people out herping. Very rarely will we do so. A lot of effort, time and research goes into becoming a good field herper...a lot of people aren't interested in putting in that effort, but still want to emulate the people they see online and think it's as simple as driving to a certain place.

    My biggest advice is to read, read, read! Target different species by researching their habitat, what weather or environmental conditions they prefer, what time of year they are active etc. It's easy to find large, conspicuous species...but most "herpers" from South East Queensland probably haven't seen Ophioscincus or a local V.panoptes etc...
     
  4. sarah_m

    sarah_m Very Well-Known Member

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    Thanks Gordo, this is great. We are coming up to Darwin on Sunday and I recon I am going to print your guide and bring it with us.
    One dumb question though:oops:, how do you know if an area is owned? Obviously if there is a fence there you would assume it belongs to someone. But say I am just out of Katherine along the Savannah Way and there is scrub without any fence or anything, is it ok to just stop and go exploring?
     
  5. waruikazi

    waruikazi Legendary

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    Absolutely! I recon i would be upto about $3-400 in books from the beginning of last year. Alot of them from your site which has been a god send for finding good unbiased information with REAL data!

    Although, just because you haven't found a particular animal doesn't necsarily make you any less good than the next herper. I still haven't found the holy grail of all pythons, i'm hoping i will in the next three years. Persistance and a bit of luck is what gets you there.

    And if you do your research and become good at your hobby then all kinds of opportunities can come up. I've been asked to contribute information to books and been invited on some very exciting epeditions.

     
  6. melluvssnakes

    melluvssnakes Well-Known Member

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    We have a particular spot that we frequent all the time (not for herping, for swimming in the amazing creek) and we have found a couple of different species of snakes; Eastern Browns, Keelbacks, yellow and blue throated Common Tree snakes, plus heaps of skink species. The thing that gets me, is that when we are just going down for a swim with the dog in the afternoon, we will find nearly all these species in the same afternoon. But if we actually go out LOOKING for them, then we find sweet fa.
     
  7. waruikazi

    waruikazi Legendary

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    Unless you know the area then i would suggest not leaving the roads for fear of stumbling on Indigenous Land. If you want to walk in then bush be safe and go in national parks, other areas up here you could be putting yourself in danger of a stray bullet even if it is vacant land.

    But most of the areas you describe are on pastural leases and you would be tresspassing.

    This is why i am a fan of keeping a diary or a journal. Record the conditions and what you found and you will be able to work out what brings these particular species out!

     
  8. GeckPhotographer

    GeckPhotographer Very Well-Known Member

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    Nice guide, I am only 17 and have 106 (reptiles) ids under my belt so maybe not that much beginner but I still enjoyed reading your guide. I only have one thing in the guide I really do not like. You say if you cannot afford both torch and headtorch go a torch. I would say most definitely a headtorch as they leave your hands free, in my opinion are easier, allow you to look along the beam for eyeshine and many of the better ones these days are as powerfull as you need them to be. A torch of similar value is just so powerful it 'spiders' any gecko or frog eyeshine. ('spiders' in my vocabulary talking about making herp eyeshine look all sparkly and twinkly like a spider.)

    I herp a lot for the less conspicuous species and yet I have only ever seen two Cyclodomorphus michaeli and one of those was on my property where I turn logs and rocks most days. Some species just require a lot more luck than other, or effort, or both.

    As much as reading about habitats and looking up records where species are known to occur I find the best possible source of information is talking to people who are regularly in the field and are willing to give you information. I am not suggesting ringing a scientist or such just joining local clubs and not just being a member but being proactive about finding out who goes herping lots, and talking to them lots about how they do it.
     
  9. waruikazi

    waruikazi Legendary

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    Good advice mate. I think it comes down to working out what works for you. With a 106 names you're certaintly doing alright!

     
  10. jack

    jack Very Well-Known Member

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    put everything back exactly as you found it, microhabitats are fragile (it wastes my time replacing rock)
    don't leave anything behind (i hate cleaning up moron droppings)

    better still, stay home, i like being alone in the bush.
     
  11. Renenet

    Renenet Very Well-Known Member

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    Putting the book on order now. I hope there are copies still in stock!

    A trick I learned in astronomy is to use a red bulb in the torch or cover the light with red cellophane. Red light doesn't screw up your night vision like white light does. Has anyone done this while herping at night or does it make it too hard to spotlight things?
     
  12. GeckPhotographer

    GeckPhotographer Very Well-Known Member

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    I have never done this but it might change the eye shine.Why is it a problem to not develop night vision in while herping? I cannot see it being that much use?
     
  13. Renenet

    Renenet Very Well-Known Member

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    I'm just curious to see if the red light trick has any application in herping. I've only used it to adjust equipment or avoid falling over things in the middle of the night, never for spotting animals.

    Night vision in astronomy is pretty important - as your eyes get used to the dark you see stars and other astronomical objects better. It probably doesn't work quite the same way when looking for herps.
     
  14. snakeluvver

    snakeluvver Very Well-Known Member

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    Well I followed your advice and had the best herping trip I've ever had. I saw a Water Skink :p On all my previous trips the only things I saw were garden skinks. I see loads of reptiles but only when I'm not looking for them :?
     
  15. GeckPhotographer

    GeckPhotographer Very Well-Known Member

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    Yeah torch being used for spotting herps is a bit different than astronomy where you are better off seeing the object without the torch whereas herping the torch really is best to be powerful and illuminate an area in which you can see the animal fairly well, as well as for eyeshine. That said I will likely try the red cellophane thing just to get a perspective on it, cannot say something is not good without at least having a go.
     
  16. snohara

    snohara Not so new Member

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    I sure didn't even know there was a name for this. My dad use to take me and my siblings out looking for things. Always peeling bark, lifting stones and sticking fingers down holes. Some of my favorite childhood memories happened under these circumstances. We found a good number of different species across all groups. We were just as happy to spot a big ol huntsman spider as we were to spot a painted dragon. Any thing that moved made us happy. These were lovely days for me and i'm very pleased that i've recently found my way back to herpetology.

    Scott.
     
  17. Jonno from ERD

    Jonno from ERD Very Well-Known Member

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    Red filters are great for spotting nocturnal mammals - their eye shine shows up from nearly all angles and is a lot stronger. White light is better for herps as you are usually looking for movement, not eye shine.
     
  18. GeckPhotographer

    GeckPhotographer Very Well-Known Member

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    Good info, so it is better for herp eyeshine too you are suggesting? In my case I am ussually looking for eyeshine I find it far more productive at night but that is just me..
     
  19. Renenet

    Renenet Very Well-Known Member

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    Thanks Jonno, interesting info.
     
  20. waruikazi

    waruikazi Legendary

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    I've tried the red lights and decided i don't like it because the filters knock down the ammount of light you have to work with considerably.

    Well that's a good start!
     

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