1 Jun 2015

Herping with MNS

Frogs.....something I used to admire in science books, but would never touch....until one day, when a college friend dared me to catch one to put in my best friend's shirt. I remember standing in a field..a lovely spring picnic day. The frog was there too, hiding amongst some grass. I looked my college friend in the eye and courage soared (coz it was a dare!), and logic flew out of my mind.

I remember grabbing that frog and plonking it straight into my best friend's shirt when she turned to look the other way!

I didn't expect what followed, several minutes of screaming, REAL SCREAMING...SHRIEKING SCREAMING...and a dance wilder than the Macarena. Though the frog had long leaped out...my friend continued screaming...and jumping wildly. I was stunned....and kept trying to pacify her..and thought...NEVER again...would I prank with a frog, let alone hold a frog!

Some years later........I got married and had two kids....and the younger happens to really love frogs, snails and lizards. She's persuaded me numerous times to hold a house gecko in my palm. And each time I've only given her the stern mummy look and warned her to back away with the squirming creature.

Then, somehow MNS Selangor Branch Herp Group trips popped up on my facebook one day.

Herping (according to Wikipedia)- The Act of searching for amphibians or reptiles. 

My family and I signed up for our first ever herping trip, and what do you know, they got me confident enough to hold a frog  and a lizard. During the trip I marveled at the variety of species that we had in our forests, I really began to realize how unique and amazing frogs and lizards are! I learnt they are not squirmy and eeky or slimy as people describe them. They are amazing creatures.
So since then, I've been on three herping trips!

The main person/guide for these trips is Steven Wong.  During my first herping trip I was astounded at how he was able to spot frogs from far distances when all I saw was total darkness and some bushes and grass in the pathway of my flashlight. I've since learnt that the trick is to look for "eye shine" which is reflected back if you've got flashlight on your head between your eyes. Still I'm not yet good at spotting frogs, but am always mesmerized by tiny glints of light which I've learnt are reflection from spiders' eyes.  wow. :)

I'm also amazed at how Steven is able to identify all the herps we've seen so far and show us specific features/characteristics of these herps....and rattle off their scientific names like....Limnonectes laticeps when the closest scientific name I can say is something like spaghetti bolognaise.....???

What my kids love about Steven's trips, is his enthusiasm and patience with kids. He takes time to answer almost all their questions, teach them how to spot herps, to the point where even Nel who was fearful of frogs like me, now actually enjoys watching/studying/photographing them and holding them gently in her palm.

To cut a long story short, I highly recommend MNS's herping trips with Steven. They are very reasonably priced, and cheaper if you're a Malaysian Nature Society member. Trips usually begin at about 730pm and last till about 1130pm. I can't remember all the names I've learnt, but my kids and I have sure learnt a lot about herps, more than we'll ever learn from books. 
Summary of Herp Trips...names of species copied from MNS Herp Group where Steven updates after every trip.

Herping Trip 1 -Bukit Kiara 

3 Snakes
Oriantal Whip Snake (Ahaetulla prasina) x2
Common Wolf Snake (Lycodon capucinus)

6 species of Lizards
Marbled Bent-Toed Gecko (Cyrtodactylus quadrivirgatus)
Spotted House Gecko (Gekko monarchus)
Forest Gecko (Gekko smithii)
Common House Gecko (Hemidactylus fernatus)
Garden Fence Lizard (Calotes versicolor)
Green Crested Lizard (Bronchocella cristatella)
7 species of Frogs
Common Grass Frog (Fejervarya limnocharis)
Lesser Stream Toad ( Ingerophrynus parvus )
Dark-sided Chorus Frog ( Microhyla heymonsi )
Tanah Rata Frog (Limnonectes nitidius)
Rhinocerous Frog (Limnonectes plicatellus)
Four-Linned Tree Frog (Polypedates leucomystax)
White Lipped Frog ( Hydrophylax labialis )

Tanah Rata Frog

Steven our guide showing our children a snake. It was great excitement for the kids....First time holding and learning about the Oriental Whip Snake. Kids were dressed in rain coats coz it was raining...and rain meant lots of herps!!  :)

Common Wolf Snake 

Oriental Whip Snake (We've seen this snake a few times in the wild, but to actually feel it and learn more about it was a unique experience.)
Herping Trip 2 - Ampang Reservoir
1. Corrugated Frog - Limonectes khasianus
2. Malayan Horned Frog - Megophrys nasuta
3. Butler's Chorus Frog - Microhyla butleri
4. Common Grass Frog - Feyervarya limnocharis
5. Common Malayan Toad - Duttaphrynus melanostictus
6. Glandular Frog - Hylarana glandulosa
7. Giant River Frog - Limonectes blythii
8. Spotted Litter Frog - Leptobrachium hendriksoni
9. Black-eyed Litter Frog - Leptobrachium nigrops
10. White Lipped Frog - Chalcorana laticeps
11. Green Paddy Frog/Common Greenback - Hylarana erythrea 
12. Four Linned Tree Frog - Polypedates leucomystax

1. Marbled Gecko - Cyrtodactylus quadrivirgatus
2. Garden Fence Lizard - Calotes versicolor
3. Spiny Tailed Gecko - Hemidactylus fernatus
4. Great Anglehead Lizard (Juvenile) - Gonocephalus grandis
5. Bell's Anglehead Liazrd - Gonocephalus bellii
6. Spotted Forest Skink - Sphenomorphus scotophilus 

1. Painted Bronzeback - Dendrelaphis pictus
Corrugated Frog - This frog has a unique call...and I"m glad I'm able to recognize its sound now! :)

Spot the Frog??? 

Malayan Horned Frog - To me this was like spotting a jewel. So unique...so rare. First time ever seeing this species!

We spotted quite a few White lipped Frog around this reservoir. This one looks like it's singing "Somewhere out there...beneath the pale moonlight......" By the way, the walk around the reservoir with a chorus of frogs singing in the background, as we walked under moonlit and starlit skies....was refreshing...and totally lovely.

White lipped Frogs making babies....

Black Eyed Litter Frog. This cute little fella actually walks more than hop. 

Black Eyed Littler Frog starring at my camera

Painted Bronzeback - I think this snake is venemous,  so none of us touched it, except for Steven...the snake charmer. We loved its bluish tones. After observing for a while, Steven placed it back where he found it.

Herping trip  3 ~  FRIM
Nine Frogs:
1. Lesser Stream Toad - Ingerophrynus parvus
2. Rufous-sided Sticky Frog - Kalophrynus pleurostigma
3. Dark-sided Chorus Frog - Microhyla heymonsi
4. Manthey's Chorus Frog - Microhyla mantheyi (got away)
5. White-lipped Frog - Chacorana labialis
6. Spotted Litter Frog - Leptobrachium hendriksoni
7. Common Grass Frog - Feyervarja limnocharis
8. Occidozyga laevis - Common Puddle Frog
9. Corrugated Frog - Limnonectes khasianus
Six Lizards:
1. Many-lined Sun Skink - Eutrophis multifaciata (got away)
3. Bell's Anglehead Lizard - Gonocephalus belli (Juvenile)
4. Great Anglehead Lizard - Gonocephalus grandis
5. Horsfield's Flying Gecko - Ptychozoon horsfieldii
6. Earless Lizard - Aphaniotis fusca
One Snake:
Reticulated Python - Malayopython reticulatus
~Lesser Stream Toad - 
Rufous Sided Sticky Frog. 
These were really sticky, feels like play dough. The red one is not injured, just has its feet stucked on the inside.

Spotted Litter Frog. This time we got a good view of its beautiful red eyes.

The purplish round patch behind the frog's eye is the typanum. From Wikipedia "The tympanum is an external hearing structure in animals such as frogs, toads, insects, and mammals. In frogs and toads, it is located just behind the eye. It does not actually process sound waves; it simply transmits them to the amphibian'sinner ear, which is protected from water and other foreign objects."

Bells Angle Head Lizard. 
Reticulated Python. I've held several snakes at petting zoos, but they've always felt...sluggish...lazy. This fella was wild. But as soon as it was tamed, it let us hold him. But we were reminded to be always gentle and let it glide as if we were branches of a tree. I won't forget the feeling as it wrapped itself tightly around my wrist and slithered its head near to mine....was a little too close for comfort. BUt oh the strength of the python....it was quite hard to uncoil this fella. Also the iridescent colours on its scales are quite hypnotizing and beautiful!

Ya, so to join a herping trip, watch out for announcements on their facebook page here --> MNS Herp Group

@poundthegarlic.blogspot.com 2015


1 comment :

gail said...

Wow! You've come a long way!

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