🐸 This season, we’ve seen a lot of posts showing salamander egg masses displaced from their original anchor spots, pics of lifted masses, and of flipped logs showing red-backed salamanders. It’s fun to be on the lookout for them, but this comes with the responsibility to disturb those as little as possible.
Caring Herping is as critical as ever for our frogs and salamanders. 40 % of the World’s amphibians are endangered, and in a time where people seek nature to get relief from confinement, they are under greater pressure as people pour into their fragile habitat. The stress is even greater when we decide to go the extra mile and explore their refuge and home seeking them deliberately.
For a start, we need to remember that when we enter breeding we are already changing the conditions of that pool for those living and developing in it. Then, when we lift an egg mass, can we guarantee that we are replacing it at the exact same height, in the exact same orientation as when it was found? Have we altered the attachment point? These are things to be aware of when interfering with the developmental phase of those eggs.
If it’s cool and entertaining for us to look for salamander egg masses in pools and adults under logs that we flip, it is much less so for them. Let’s care for them and let them be salamanders. At a minimum, let’s follow good ‘herping’ rules.
Another thing to remember is that a pic of an egg mass in one’s hand without context and explanation of how the mass was handled is unfortunately and in effect promoting careless herping. Sadly, we know that for a fact. And yes, we’re faulty at times to forget to add that critical caption. We are learning to be cautious and to lead by example. For sure, ethical field practices are an everyday exercise. A great one though!
🔎 Here’s a good article > https://www.savethesalamanders.com/ethical-field-herping-guidelines/
🦎 Also, check EwA’s Herping etiquette which includes tips such as how to replace a log without harming those living under… > https://www.earthwiseaware.org/(…)/the-herping-rules/
- The Casual Herping Etiquette—Ethical Explorations of Ponds and Pools (Earthwise Aware)
- Ephemeral Living » Vernal Pool Explorations (Earthwise Aware)
- P. J. Bishop, et al. (2012) The Amphibian Extinction Crisis – what will it take to put the action into the Amphibian Conservation Action Plan?. In SAPIENS 5.2 | 2012 : Vol.5 / N°2 – IUCN Commissions
- Alroy, J. (2015) Current Extinction Rates of Reptiles and Amphibians. PNAS October 20, 2015 112 (42) 13003-13008; first published October 5, 2015 https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1508681112
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Claire O’Neill | First published May 26th 2020 | Updated April 6th, 2022
Photos © Claire O’Neill
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