Herping can be an incredibly fun and educational experience. However, there are many things you should know before you start.
1. While reptiles and amphibians never want to hurt you, they can if they are intimidated.
The best way to avoid scaring herps in the field is to move slowly and cautiously. This includes lifting logs, rocks, and other potential herp homes and combing through leaf litter. It is best practice to wear gloves to protect your hands and hiking boots or rain boots to protect your ankles and feet. Additionally, if you see a snake, especially a venmous snake, ensure you are observing from a safe distance and do not attempt to pick it up. Never pick up anything you are not completely sure you know the identity of. If you are bitten and do not know what species of snake it was, seek medical attention immediately. It is always best to be overly cautious.
2. Treat the outdoors with respect, no matter where you are.
The outdoors is home to many creatures, big and small. Their homes are often small and easily disturbed or even destroyed. It is crucial to be delicate when moving rocks, logs, and other objects and when walking on moss or in creeks. Whether you are in your backyard or in a state park, the habitat is still just as important.
3. Know and respect the local and federal laws relating to herping and property.
Some species are protected by state or federal laws and the collection or handling of these species can be illegal. To best follow the law and protect the environment, it is best to observe wildlife in its natural habitat without handling it. You can read more about the specific laws in Georgia through the Georgia Department of Natural Resources website and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service website.
4. It is best to go into the field prepared.
Bring any supplies you think you may need in a small backpack. I personally carry an EpiPen due to my allergies, wet wipes and hand sanitizer to clean my hands, plenty of water, snacks, and my favorite field guide(s).
5. Knowledge is key.
Before you go into the field, make sure to read everything you can about your local herps. Here are the field guides and other resources I highly recommend: