10 Gentle ‘Herp’ Rules
To observe around any kind of amphibian & reptile
“Amphibians face unprecedented threats from habitat loss, climate change, disease, and populations worldwide are disappearing. The fate of turtles, snakes, and the like (i.e., reptiles) is not much better…” How about we start noticing and caring?
‘Herping’ (*) is increasingly popular as a means of enjoying the wildlife of ponds, pools, and puddles, but we have to remember the impact this may have on their inhabitants. Respecting wildlife and habitats is the top priority for all those engaged in field herping and photography of reptiles and amphibians. Encounters with wildlife can be exhilarating but we must remember to behave mindfully. Here, we are presenting details, considerations, and requirements for when you’re out there exploring forests, ponds, and pools. Keep in mind that the general EwA Wildness Etiquette also applies to Herping.
Knowing is Caring: Learn before you go. Observe wetlands species well prepared so as to minimize your impact, to maximize both your safety and the welfare of the wildlife, as well as for the pleasure of everyone. Enjoy!
There are more than 7,650 species of amphibians currently known, and many more species are described each year. The vast majority of amphibians are frogs and toads (~6750 species), followed by salamanders (~710 species) and caecilians (~205 species). However, amphibians face unprecedented threats from habitat loss, climate change, disease, and populations worldwide are disappearing.
Around 30% are threatened with extinction, which is more than birds (13%) and mammals (21%). However, this is likely an underestimation of the true number, as the majority of amphibians described since 2004 have not been assessed by the IUCN Red List. At least 42% of all known amphibian species are declining, and as many as 159 amphibian species may already be extinct.
Read More » EDGE Amphibians | EDGE stands for Evolutionarily Distinct and Globally Endangered.
As for reptiles, according to a 2013 study from the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) in conjunction with experts from the IUCN Species Survival Commission (SSC), 19% of the world’s reptiles are estimated to be threatened with extinction. Out of the 19% that are endangered, 12% are classified as Critically Endangered, 41% Endangered and 47% Vulnerable.
Extinction risk is not evenly spread throughout this highly diverse group: freshwater turtles are at particularly high risk, mirroring greater levels of threat in freshwater biodiversity around the world. Overall, the study estimated 30% of freshwater reptiles to be close to extinction, a percentage that rises to 50% when considering freshwater turtles alone, as they are also affected by national and international trade.
Read More » Almost One in Five Reptiles Struggling to Survive (IUCN publication 2013)
1 | 👮🏽♀️ Preparation rule: Know the regulations in place — Know the critters ⎆
2 | 🛁 Health rule: Clean your gear getting in and out ⎆
3 | 📐 Distance rule: Keep your distance, don’t chase, move slowly ⎆
4 | 👐🏽 Hands Off rule: Protect them by not touching them ⎆
5 | 🍃 Soft rule: As light as a feather - As delicate as a breeze ⎆
6 | 🧭 Geotagging Rule: Obscure to protect ⎆
7 | 🚨 Emergency rule: handling them to get them out of harm's way ⎆
8 | 🔬 Log & Cover rule: Understanding microhabitats ⎆
9 | 🍔 Food rule: Don't bait, don't feed - Keep them wild ⎆
10 | 💬 Engaging rule: Lead by example, challenge when possible, report when necessary ⎆
If you are planning to visit wetlands and the wildlife around, please take the time to also check our general EwA Wildness Etiquette and our habitat-focused EwA Wetlands Rules. Help the protection and conservation of the habitats and species that you enjoy. Thanks!
» Species Status
- [IUCNa] Amphibians on the IUCN Red List
- [IUCNb] Almost One in Five Reptiles Struggling To Survive
— Nineteen percent of the world’s reptiles are estimated to be threatened with extinction, states a paper published today by the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) in conjunction with experts from the IUCN Species Survival Commission (SSC).
» About Wetlands
- [EWA] The EwA Wetlands Rules
- [EPA] Methods for Evaluating Wetland Condition —Using Amphibians in Bioassessments of Wetlands (EPA publication 2002)
» Vernal Pool Conservation
- [CA08] Science and Conservation of Vernal Pools in Northeastern North America. Calhoun, A.J. and P.G. deMaynadier. (2008). CRC Press, New York, NY. 363 pp.
- [KL09] A Field Guide to the Animals of Vernal Pools by Kenny, L.P., and Burne, M.R. (2009). Vernal Pool Association, PO Box 2295, Peabody, MA and MA NHESP, Westboro, MA. (reprinted 2009)
- [MM16] Identifying and Documenting Vernal Pools (in New Hampshire) by Marchand, M. (3rd edition)
- [FWS] The Declining Amphibian Task Force Fieldwork Code of Practice
- [MWPARC] Field Herpetology Etiquette
- [CCAC] CCAC Species-specific Recommendations on Amphibians and Reptiles (Canadian Council on Animal Care)
- [CWHC] Decontamination Protocol for Field Work with Amphibians and Reptiles in Canada (2017)
- [EA12] Understanding of the Impact of Chemicals on Amphibians: a Meta-analytic Review by Egea-Serrano, A. & al. in Ecol Evol. 2012 Jul; 2(7): 1382–1397. doi: [10.1002/ece3.249]
- [RM18] High Mortality in Aquatic Predators of Mosquito Larvae Caused by Exposure to Insect Repellent by Rafael M. Almeida and al. (2018)
- [PA10] Minimising Exposure of Amphibians To Pathogens During Field Studies by Phillott, A.D. & al (2010)
- [DEH] Interim Hygiene Protocol For Handling Amphibians (Technical Manual Wildlife Management) from the Department of Environment and Heritage Protection ABN 46 640 294 485
— This technical manual aims to outline standard measures to be followed to prevent or reduce the spread of disease-causing pathogens being transferred within and between frog populations. These hygiene protocols can be applied in both a scientific and general public capacity.
- [VIN] Interim Hygiene Protocols for Amphibian Field Staff And Researchers in Standard Operating Procedures: Hygiene Protocols for Amphibian Fieldwork, 2008 (Vancouver Island University, British Colombia)
- [JB18] ‘Death By a Thousand Holes’: Scientists Race to Avert a Salamander Crisis by Jones, B. (2018)
— For more than three years, scientists have been preparing for the arrival of a killer fungus in North America. But that doesn’t mean they’re ready.
- [LX18] Snail-borne Parasitic Diseases: An Update on Global Epidemiological Distribution, Transmission Interruption and Control Methods by Lu, X-T, & al. (2018)
- [HB16] Can You Feed Bread To Wild Turtles? (Herpetology Blog Post 2016)
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Home / Engage / Species & Habitats Focused Etiquettes / The Casual Herping Rules
◊ Note that this Etiquette is and will remain a work in progress. If there is anything else you would like to see added, please let us know and we’ll do our best to include it. Let’s be Earthwise Aware. Let’s enjoy and protect wildlife responsibly! Thanks for your support!