To handle or not to handle, that is the question. The handling of reptiles and amphibians while herping is somewhat a controversial topic. It is the view of Happy Herping, that handling an animal should be at the sol3 discretion of each individual. If you are going to handle animals that you encounter, keep these things in mind.
- One of the most important factors to consider when handling animals is the unnecessary stress that it may cause them. For example: a desert species might store water in their bladder to be absorbed later when water is scarce. Unnecessary handling of a species like this could cause them to eliminate their water stores, which could in turn decrease their chances of survival. Consider the animal and the potential harm that might be caused before deciding to handle or not.
- If handling amphibians, always wear gloves. Keep in mind that amphibians have incredibly sensitive skin which absorbs substances it comes into contact with. Bacteria, Hand Sanitizer, lotions, and other products can have ill effects on our amphibian friends. Wear gloves, or don't handle at all.
Do No Harm Respecting the animals and their environment will make everyone happy and you'll be setting a good example for fellow herpers.
- Never remove an animal from the wild. This should go without saying, and needs no explanation.
- Disinfect clothing and equipment between herping sites to prevent the spread of diseases such as the Chytrid Fungus. For example: soak your boots and snake hook in a 3% bleach solution for 1 minute and allow to air dry.
- When "flipping", return rocks, logs, and debris to their original positions. These items are micro-habitats for several species, and failing to replace items where they were found can lead to the unnecessary destruction of habitat.
- For the same reason as above, do not practice the herping method of "bark-ripping" or tearing apart rotted logs. Keep in mind that something calls that place home.
- Stay out of areas that you know are being used for research.
- Don't be a litter bug. Keep the environment clean by not leaving trash behind. If you're feeling especially nice, you can even carry a bag along with you on your herping adventures and pick up litter that others have left behind!