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Herping with baby Sophia

Posted: March 11th, 2019, 8:00 am
by jonathan
Spending time in the outdoors and with herps from a young age is a family tradition for me.


I took baby Sophia out on a couple of short herping outings during the first few weeks of her life, but she wasn't really old enough to take in anything (and slept through most of the good finds). Her first confirmed picture with a herp was....not much to brag about.


The next few months were busy, but now months 4-6 of her life have been great.

Her first participatory herping outing ever was at a local park. Together we flipped a Common Dotted Supple Skink, a Kushmore's House Gecko, and a Brahminy Blind Snake.


A month later we went out for my birthday and took our first real outing to a local forest. Birthday surprise, ran into some snake charmers on the way there!


We started off walking a few kilometers through the forest. Saw two jackals and three owls, which is interesting because I've done this hike dozens of times and never seen this owl species here or anywhere else in the city (either Jungle Owlet Glaucidium radiatum or Asian Barred Owlet Glaucidium cuculoides?)


We got to the area I like to flip and I was not disappointed. Almost immediately I turned up a couple Indian Wolf Snakes (Lycodon aulicus). Her first snake with sight!


Next we got a Common Dotted Supple Skink (Lygosoma punctata) and I figured it was time for her to get to hold a herp for the first time. My wife was afraid that she was going to stick it in her mouth! Sophia definitely enjoyed it. :)


Over the rest of the day we proceeded to flip lots of centipedes, scorpions, geckos, skinks, and a couple more Indian Wolf Snakes. Sophia seemed to be having a good time.


Then we got the highlight of the day - a young Russell's Viper! Rosey said, "You're not taking her anywhere near that thing." Oh well, not everything is selfie material.


Hiking back out we ran into a small group of Nilgai. Great way to cap off a nice day.


Thanks for taking a look! Part 2 will follow later where we actually got to take her through the jungle and she holds her first snake!

Re: Herping with baby Sophia

Posted: March 12th, 2019, 9:30 am
by jonathan
So a week after that, we went to Manila for a series of conferences and meetings. Lucky for us, the conference bordered a bit of jungle. I'll eventually post the full herping report somewhere else (far better than I expected!), but for now just a few with Sophia.

On the third day Sophia and I took a walk around the perimeter, mostly finding stuff to flip here and there. I've gotten pretty adept at holding her in one hand and flipping with the other, but really impressed myself when I managed to wedge up a huge discarded palm base. And there was a blind snake under it!

It's something unusual - I've talked to a couple experts and one believes that it is a Ramphotyphlops (currently unknown from the island) while the other believes it's most likely Malayotyphlops ruficaudus, though they may be going more on prevalence than appearance.

I decided it was a good starter snake for Sophia, and she appeared to like it.

Like a good old-school dad I left her in the grass while I returned to the site to take another couple photos, place the palm stump back correctly, and release the snake. When I returned I found Sophia improving her gut ecology.

On a different occasion I caught an Emerald Tree Skink, which I don't think happens every day. Sophia was not sufficiently impressed.

The next day Sophia and I went for a longer hike. This time we left the grounds entirely, did a little bit off-trail, chanced a couple real stream crossings, and got into the jungle. While we didn't see too much in the way of herps (just a Philippines Water Monitor that evaded my camera), it helped me do some scouting for that night's searches and Sophia loved every minute of it!

Re: Herping with baby Sophia

Posted: March 12th, 2019, 9:57 am
by jonathan
Since we had come all the way to Manila, after the conferences we ended our trip with a few days at a retreat center that I had been to once before and enjoyed immensely. This time we were able to take Sophia on hikes through real hills in a rural area. This was mama's chance to go hiking with us too (before she'd been stuck in meetings most of the time).


At times Sophia just needed to sleep while we were out too long. This provided a good opportunity for me to practice some passive herping, something that's often been recommended to me but which I've rarely tried. With Sophia asleep on my chest, I decided that I would simply stare into the trees until a herp came.


The first time I did it took quite a bit of patience, but a sleeping baby made patience easier. It was 45 minutes of staring into the trees before an Emerald Tree Skink finally resolved about 10 meters off the ground, foraging around an airplant.
IMG_3230.JPG (58.32 KiB) Viewed 4333 times

Over the course of the four days we spent there, we did the sit-and-wait approach at least once every day and I don't think I ever failed to spot a herp eventually. Besides Emerald Tree Skinks, the other species that made itself known up there in the trees was Philippines Flying Dragons. I think we managed something like 5 tree skinks and 17 flying dragons over the course of our stay.

There were plenty of other adventures (and a LOT of species seen), but that will be best left for a trip report. Thanks for taking a look!

Re: Herping with baby Sophia

Posted: March 12th, 2019, 10:34 pm
by Kelly Mc
Wow this is trippy. My partner's daughter announced to us that she is expecting. Its only gummy bear sized currently, so sex unknown and I didnt think I would be that interested, but I am, I really am and your photos are like the stuff I have been imagining.

Its nice to be in a family and like, this whole panorama of loveliness is drifting into sight.

I was going to make a post to ask questions about herping with a kid. An Isabella or an Ike. Its like starting things over again.

Baby Sophia looks like pretty incredible company, its cool Im going to belong to this.

Also the Dragons and the Skinks on the tree trunks, I enjoy seeing. If people trying to keep dragons would set them up with large vertical plane perches, it would improve the survival rate. To think im going to get to tell a kid that. Is cool.

With my grandchild though I want to focus on herping and travel with my family.

Thanks, Jonathan.

Re: Herping with baby Sophia

Posted: March 13th, 2019, 11:19 am
by Kelly Mc
Oh, and the look on your face up there with the corn Proves that there is no such thing as an unbeautiful or uninteresting snake.

Proof. Right There.

Re: Herping with baby Sophia

Posted: March 13th, 2019, 11:41 am
by jonathan
Kelly Mc wrote:
March 13th, 2019, 11:19 am
Oh, and the look on your face up there with the corn Proves that there is no such thing as an unbeautiful or uninteresting snake.

Proof. Right There.
There's actually a beautiful story behind that corn too.

If I remember right, that snake is one my dad had hatched himself from an egg long before I was born. And later when I was 12 or so I would breed it to an amelanistic corn myself to get hetero offspring, then bred one of the babies back to the mom to get half of the clutch amelanistic. So those corns were in our family for generations.

Re: Herping with baby Sophia

Posted: March 13th, 2019, 3:39 pm
by Bryan Hamilton
That is an adorable and uplifting series of posts. Thanks for sharing, it makes me smile. really cool back story on the cornsnake too.

Congratulations on the new neonate in the family unit. I think you will be having a lot of introducing them to herps.

Re: Herping with baby Sophia

Posted: March 14th, 2019, 3:51 am
by BillMcGighan
Precious. Precious. Precious.

Thanks for sharing.

I can honestly say that some of my most memorable and happiest herping experiences were those shared with my kids and grandkids.

Continue taking pics throughout and you'll be even more rewarded many times later in life.