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 Post subject: Herping after Irma in Orlando area
PostPosted: September 13th, 2017, 9:01 am 
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Joined: January 19th, 2015, 4:15 am
Posts: 3
Location: Germany
Hey guys,

obviously we planned our vacation on a bad date. We're arriving in Miami on Sep 17th. Unfortunately there was no possibility to change our flight dates so the only way was rebooking our Hotel from Homestead to Kissimmee. :roll:

What's your experience after a Storm like this? Is there any chance to see some herps in the area?
I've been to Florida 2012. We did the Everglades and Big Cypress. In Orlando we only saw some Anoles and several lizards in Disney World.

For this time I would try to find some herps, especially snakes around Ocala NF. I'm still looking for good places on google earth.

Is Gatorland and Reptile World Serpentarium still worth a visit?


Kind regards and all the best wishes from Germany to all who suffered from Irma,
Toby :beer:


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 Post subject: Re: Herping after Irma in Orlando area
PostPosted: September 13th, 2017, 9:19 am 
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Joined: January 19th, 2015, 4:15 am
Posts: 3
Location: Germany
Here are some herps from central Germany (July 2017)
:D


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 Post subject: Re: Herping after Irma in Orlando area
PostPosted: September 13th, 2017, 10:18 am 

Joined: December 3rd, 2010, 12:06 pm
Posts: 1632
Well, adding to your bad luck is that many FL-local herpers might not be online here much right now, they're probably without electricity and might be repairing their roofs, windows, etc. So you might not get as much companionship (online or in person) as at other times.

However - as for post-storm herping - hell yeah there's still stuff to find. I'd say there are both challenges and opportunities.

Some places you might want to herp may be fully or partially "administratively closed" (temporarily shut down) due to facilities or infrastructure damage. These could include some state forests and parks, and many county parcels (most FL counties have their own land-conservation programs), as well as some water management district properties. The spatial pattern of damage from Irma is kind of random. The SW seems to have got hit pretty bad, but so does the NE. But there are spots all over the state that are worse off than "average". There were tornadoes, and any low spot is going to be receiving a whole lot of drainage right now.

If the water is still or was recently high when you get to an open (not shut down) spot you want to herp, there will be access difficulties. Some roads will be underwater, and many unpaved roads will still be very soft. Aquatic animals will be dispersed. However terrestrial animals may be more concentrated. Semiaquatic animals can be very concentrated along ditch banks and levees, when the water is high.

You will see a lot of debris. Lots of piles of limbs and leaves where flowing water deposited it, and lots of trash near developed areas or individual houses - blown-down signs, pieces of sheds and roofs and such. Often, right after a whole lot of rain it's hard to find animals. But then after a few days, they come out again to forage and bask. Watch for animals on top of and under this storm debris.

Don't be shy about saying hello and asking questions of rural residents. They see animals, trust me. They will often let you look around their property. Often they will ask you to take anything venomous with you. Ha ha, but they really do.

September is a great month for certain things, like cruising neonate hognose snakes in sandy uplands. Try morning (~8-11) and mid-to-late (~4-7) afternoon. There's a good chance for bycatch like pines, rats, pygmies, and corals.

For whatever reason, the uplands of Ocala NF can be tough hunting. They are just so...big. I like the edges where scrub or sandhills hit flatwoods, or where there are lots of little ponds in the scrub or sandhills. There are some state forests SE and E of Ocala NF that are also fun. Honestly, for certain upland species I prefer the dunes (ancient, or active) at the coast. North & NW of Cape Canaveral is an interesting area.

Other things that come to mind -
- I always recommend treating your clothes with a permethrin solution. You can buy spray-on or soaking varieties. The soak stuff is stronger and lasts longer. I would count on blood-sucking bugs being abundant and hungry. Deploy countermeasures! Ha ha ha...but seriously. Misery and disease.

- If you get your car stuck in sand, let a lot of air out of the tires (down to say 10 psi - just don't break the bead!). That can help. Refill before too much driving on pavement.

- Respect alligators. They are dangerous from about 7 feet up, and really dangerous once they hit about 10 feet. I would not, for example, wander the margins of large waterbodies after dark without keeping a good watch for eyeshine. Generally, small water = small gators. Water you could cross on foot, fast and easy, is not likely to harbor a dangerous gator. Water that would take a bit of time and effort to cross on foot, or that you really couldn't get across on foot, has potential to harbor a dangerous gator. Shallow isolated small ponds out in the middle of scrub or sandhill will often have a 3-footer or so, but do not constitute "sticking habitat" for adults (5' +). Some places, like marshy spots along the St Johns River, have more big gators than you could possibly believe. Get out on a boat at night with a strong light to see for yourself. It's sobering, even for someone who loves herps, and a good buzz. Ha ha.

- Watch out for fire ants. Avoid contact.

I was supposed to fly to FL this afternoon. I rescheduled to next month. Business trip, no herping planned. I feel your pain.

Good hunting, stay healthy, let us know how you do. Thanks for the adder pics, I love those guys.


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 Post subject: Re: Herping after Irma in Orlando area
PostPosted: September 18th, 2017, 2:33 pm 
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Joined: January 19th, 2015, 4:15 am
Posts: 3
Location: Germany
Hi Jimi,

thank you so much for your answer. I'm here in Kissimmee know and... trying not to desperate completely :cry: :crazyeyes: All State Parks in the area are "currently closed until further notice" due to Irma. So are most of the roads NW of Cape Caneveral. Same is Ocala NF.

We are going to head a little bit South tomorrow and try the Three Lakes WMA. Let's see if we got luck...


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