Our Shah Alam Community Forest (SACF) Society held a Herpetology hike in tandem with Steven Wong from Malaysian Nature Society (MNS) on 21st December 2019, in our very own forest at Section U10, Shah Alam in Selangor.
According to Wikipedia, Herpetology (originating from Greek, meaning “reptile” or “creeping animal”) is the branch of zoology concerned with the study of amphibians (including frogs, toads, salamanders, newts and caecilians (gymnopiona)) and reptiles (including snakes, lizards, amphisbaenids, turtles, terrapins, tortoises, crocodilians, and the tuataras). These creatures are beneficial to us humans as the amphibians are often very sensitive to environmental changes, offering a visible warning to humans that significant changes are taking place.
Finding these creatures can be quite difficult and require trained and very passionate eyes and hands, and identifying them requires a walking encyclopaedia too. Steven has a rather unique hobby in ‘herping’ (shortened from Herpetology) since his childhood days and we were fortunate to be in his good hands which made the hike very exciting.
Bright headlamps are required to shine and spot the shiny eyes of frogs, or the shimmering skins of lizards or snakes resting on trees. On several herping hikes prior to this one with Steven, we’ve spotted numerous creatures from frogs, snakes, to a couple of mousedeers and a civet high up in a tree in our forest.
On this December night, we were privileged to witness myriads of wildlife from the Large-tailed Nightjar (Caprimulgus macrurus) bird and the Changeable Lizard (Calotes versicolor), besides these snakes – Wagler’s Pit Viper (Tropidolaemus wagleri), Oriental Vine Snake (Ahetulla prasina), Brahminy Blind Snake (Indothyphlops brahminus) and the Painted Bronzeback (Dendrelaphis pictus).
Frogs were the easiest to spot, giving everyone, especially the children something to look forward to in the common grass frog (Feyervarja limnocharis), four-lined tree frog (Polypedates leucomystax), green paddy frog (Hylarana erythraea), dark-sided narrow-mouthed frog (Microhyla heymonsi), black-eyed litter frog (Leptobrachium nigrops) and the banded bullfrog (Kaloula pulchra).
Herping hikes are always interesting and exciting, akin to a treasure hunt and suitable for everyone including children to inculcate a keener interest towards nature.