Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Your Friendly Neighborhood Nature:A guide to suburban herping

Your Friendly Neighborhood Nature

A guide to suburban herping

Say you live in the suburbs. And you want your good dose of herping. Only problem is that you're not quite sure how you can herp in the suburbs. Well, this is how. Do you have a park nearby? If so, then you probably have a lake. Go during warm months of the year. Visit the lake for turtles, or if it's a less used park and is more wild, maybe even water snakes! If the park allows it, you can go after dark to see and hear frogs and toads. If you're almost anywhere in Florida, during most of the year, sit out on your porch or sun room and wait for anoles to show up. Do you have chickens or a wood fireplace? If so, then look under the wood and near the chickens for a chance at seeing rat snakes, especially if you're in a wilder suburb. There can be reptiles and amphibians almost anywhere! Even a puddle has a chance at having frogs. You can make your yard better for reptiles and amphibians too. You can create a pond! This pond can be a large, in-ground lake or just a box or wading pool filled with water, as well as cover objects and a ramp. I did this for the "If You Build It, They Will Come" project and saw frogs in my yard far more than I had previously.  You can also install PVC pipes in the ground to provide shelter for tree frogs. Bird feeders may attract rat snakes, and you can use pieces of wood, metal, or black plastic as coverboards. In many cities, your grass can get to a certain height, so, as long as it doesn't get beyond that height, you may wish to create a non-mowed section to provide shelter for wildlife. You may also want to register your yard as a habitat with the National Wildlife Federation, whose plaque does provide some merit for city-wide restrictions. Getting a birdbath may attract rat snakes to eat the birds, tree frogs to lay eggs in it, or, if it's stone, lizards to sun themselves on it. Also, there are some cautions. If you have stray cats in your neighborhood, adopt them if possible. This will keep them from becoming predators of native wildlife. If you have a pond, treat it with Mosquito Bits or Mosquito Dunks to keep it from becoming a health hazard. If you have dead pets or other animals, treat them responsibly. Bury them or do something other than leaving them around. This may attract unwanted creatures and again, could be a health hazard. Furthermore, it always helps to have excuses. What we suggest is to use common objects as habitat. If you have a pond, if it's big, say it's a pool and the cover objects are kids' toys. If it's small, say it's a bird bath. If you have PVC pipes for tree frogs, paint them and say they're yard art. Also say that any coverboards you have are yard art. Anyway, hopefully this will help you be more successful at herping your suburbs. I'll see you next time on Alli's Snakes.

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