Buckeye Herps Blog

A photographic journal of the reptiles and amphibians of Ohio, Michigan and other places interesting wildlife call home.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Winter Herp(ing) 2011

I can't title this "Winter Herps" unfortunately.  If you are looking for pics of herps or epic adventures in the snow, you should look elsewhere.  I can try and help show what desperate measures some midwestern herpers will go through during the doldrums of winter.

There isn't much to do around here this time of the year.  As mentioned previously, winter provides good opportunities to catch up on field notes, spend quality time with family, do some traveling, and maybe try for some salamanders.  Michigan's salamander diversity is less than stellar, but you can always give mudpuppies the old college try.  They can stay active year round and are often caught by ice fisherman.  We figured why not?

I met up with Nick and Dave to try for mudpups a few days before Christmas.  We planned to try and flip some flat rocks and maybe peek under the larger ones with cameras.  Wading through water at this time of the year creates some new problems.  Just walking in with your shoes or boots won't cut it, and I never even considered what would happen when I would try to flip rocks with my bare hands and arms.  Luckily, Dave had access to some long arm waterproof gloves.  These would prove invaluable, if we ever made it to the water...

On the drive in, the warm spell left ground that should be frozen hard, wet and muddy.  Dave had been warned, but we quickly were stuck.  And I mean stuck.

We tried packing sticks/logs under all the tires and pushing hard.  These efforts were fruitless.

We called for a tow, and were notified it would be a while to gather some chains.  We took this opportunity to actually try for some mudpups.  A couple hours later of searching, we remained empty handed, but the truck got towed out.

Notice the waders and gloves.  Not the most fashionable of statements, but key when looking for mudpuppies in the middle of December.

We tried another spot for another couple of hours, but success was not in the cards today.  I had managed to flood both my muck boots, and Dave flooded the gloves, so things ended a little more painful than they when we started.   If you add wet gear to the 35 F temps and extreme wind on the water, it made for a chilly day, and we were happy to finally get back in the cars.  We had started the day with high hopes, and I would have to say we ended up feeling a bit defeated.  Hopefully, we can take another stab at these guys later this winter.

Happy Herping!



  1. We are birders, though we do try to see as many herps as we can. Summer isn't a great time for birds though and my son switched over to butterflies this past summer. Maybe you herpers could bird in the winter. After all, birds really do belong with the reptiles!

  2. I wish I could get more into birding... I enjoy it immensely when I am out herping, especially during the spring migrations, but I haven't caught the bug enough for it to drag me out into the cold. Check back with me after another spring season and I might be hooked though. There is some great winter birding nearby, I just need to get out there and make it happen. Luckily, salamander and frog breeding season is fast approaching!