Equipment: Binoculars or scope
Potential Harm to Herps: None
Special Legal Requirements: None
This is a very self explanatory herping technique: you simply look for basking herps. The trick is where to look. Lizards like to bask on rocks and logs in a sunny areas. Turtles usually bask on logs and rocks along or in the water. Turtles can often be seen swimming or surfacing to breath. Snakes bask in rock piles, flat areas of exposed rock or ground (like trails), or on limbs. Frogs are not technically basking, but they set at the edge of water, and jump in at the first sign of danger. Treefrogs can even be found by scanning limbs and grasses. A good camera will help you photograph these animals, but a spotting scope can be used, and photos can be taken with a smart phone through the scope as well. It is like bird watching, but for herps. This technique will also work at night, with a flashlight. This can help one find toads and snakes such as Eastern Copperheads. Salamanders will start to move on a wet night as well, and scanning works well for these too.
This technique works well for: True Toads, Treefrogs, True Frogs, Plethodontine Salamanders, Eastern Newts, all turtles, all lizards, Pit Vipers, Rainbow Snake, Eastern Hognose, most Colubrine Snakes, and larger Natricine Snakes.
Herping Virginia encourages all naturalists to practice ethical, safe, and sustainable herping. The use of proper herping methods and techniques is beneficial to both wildlife and herpers. Visit the links below for more information.