Reptiles in the wild

A Burton's legless lizard (Lialis burtonis) caught in a car's headlights

Herping: verb. her'-ping
An activity where obsessed people spend vast amounts of time and money in an attempt to 'tick' reptile and amphibian species off a list as they see them. See also: twitching.

Herping is the term used to describe going out and looking for herps - reptiles and amphibians - in the wild. It's also known as snake hunting, snitching ('snake twitching'), or (as my mum used to say) wasting time.

People 'herp' for many reasons, some good, some bad. It's a sad fact that there are still an awful lot of reptiles illegally taken from the wild for the pet trade (although this figure pales in comparison to the number of reptiles that are killed each year on the roads, by cats and dogs and by government-sanctioned habitat destruction). This is an activity that's been going on for years and it's tarnished the image of herping. But that shouldn't stop the rest of us going out and enjoying these animals in their natural environment - and leaving them there.

This section of the site is here to help you on your quest, whether it's finding every species of reptile in Australia, or just to spend a nice day outside in the fresh air. Have a look at the following sections to get started.

Legal stuff
All native reptiles are protected in Australia. It's illegal to interfere (e.g., catch, chase, poke, wrangle, lick) with any native reptile unless you have a permit from the relevant fauna authority. Of course, it's fine if you run over a snake. It's fine if you bulldoze a couple of hectares for a housing estate. It's perfectly legal for you to leave your cat outside where it can eat hundreds of native animals yearly.1 It's fine if you kill a venomous snake because you 'fear for your life'. But woe betide anyone who picks up a wild lizard... Legal nonsense aside, you can still enjoy herping in a safe and legal manner... read more...

Finding critters
Obviously, finding animals is a key aspect of herping. There are numerous ways to find critters. At one end of the spectrum is stumbling around randomly until you bump into something exciting. At the other end is going to specific locations at specific times in the hope of locating specific animals... read more...

For me, photography is an integral part of herping. Not only does digital photography indulge the geek in me, it lets me share my experiences with people on the other side of the world... read more...


  1. Read, J. & Bowen, Z. (2001). Population dynamics, diet and aspects of the biology of feral cats and foxes in arid South Australia. Wildlife Research, 28(2):195-203.
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