Herping Southern Germany Questions (?)s

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Antonsrkn
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Herping Southern Germany Questions (?)s

Post by Antonsrkn » June 5th, 2015, 1:28 pm

So I'm looking into visiting my partner in southern Germany, as she is currently studying there. Well needless to say this isn't a herping trip, however my partner is a fan of anything natural and she does enjoy herping so we'd definitely be interested in taking a bit of time to do so.

If I go, I will be based in Freiburg in the south of Germany near both Switzerland and France. I know next to nothing about the area so any and all help would be appreciated! It will certainly be very different from the jungles and cloud forests to which I have become accustomed lately.

The herps I'd most be interested in seeing are Vipera species, I understand there should be berus, aspis, and maybe even ursinii in the area? In terms of amphibs I'd most want to see Bufo viridis and Salamandra salamandra, however I imagine those may be seasonal and i'll be visiting in July which probably wont be the best month for them. However any and all herps would be a welcome find for me as its all going to be new to me, to be honest I don't really know what there is to find in the area very well. What i'm looking for is any advice on where to look, types of habitats, and any general advice on any species that occurs there.

We probably wont have a long time for herping but we could certainly go for a few days so a bit of travel time is not out of the question.

I'd appreciate any help anyone is willing to give, thanks so much in advance!




And just to keep things interesting, here is a random frog photo that has nothing at all to do with the above request for information! But lets pretend she's waiting with bated breath for your answers :)
ImageOdd Frog by Anton, on Flickr

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krismunk
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Re: Herping Southern Germany Questions (?)s

Post by krismunk » June 7th, 2015, 3:32 am

Hi Anton,

I don't have much to offer, seeing as I've never herped the area and in relation to a couple of your target species have only precious little experience (seen only one aspis and one larval Salamandra). Since noone else has replied yet I thought I'd give it a go nonetheless.

For starters, here's a set of distribution maps for German herps:

http://www.feldherpetologie.de/verbreit ... amphibien/

In relation to your target list you will notice aspis has a very limited distribution in Germany. This means you need detailed local knowledge, otherwise forget it. It is probably much easier to find nearby in France or Switzerland anyway where it is common and widespread.

You will also notice ursinii is missing from the list. I guess the closest populations are the ones in southern France, some six hours drive away. If this is within range for you so are a whole host of other species, including ammodytes in Italy. If not, off the top of my head the only species not on the list for Germany but significantly closer is Hierophis viridiflavus, common and easy close by in France and Switzerland. Obviously, if you do want to make a longer trip you'll want to head south. Where to go depends on your list of desiderata. Check distribution maps, for instance in Arnold's field guide, for inspiration.

European Vipera species are not exactly the most thermophile of snakes so take that into account in terms of when and where (altitude) to search.

I wouldn't worry too much about the season in terms of your phib goals. Viridis is active at night pretty much regardless of the weather, also at the height of summer. Find a place where they are and they should be essentially a sure thing. Salamandra should also be possible, though you'll want some rain to find them active. Either of the two can be flipped in the daytime, though of course it's much more rewarding finding them active at night.

I'd expect no brainer trivial finds around Freiburg would include species such as Bufo bufo, Rana temporaria, Ichthyosaura alpestris, Podarcis muralis, Natrix natrix and Zootoca vivipara but species such as Lacerta agilis, Anguis fragilis and others (including at least a couple of your four targets) are probably also easy and really nothing should be too hard to find with a little preparation. Don't take my word for this, though, check with locals if possible. Also, be prepared that herping in Europe is quite poor by American or tropical standards. Diversity is low and for many species you really need detailed locality knowledge to have a fair chance in a limited time span.

In terms of habitats and methods I don't have much. Check the field guide and online reports, ask the locals and trust your eyes and instinct when looking for habitats. Oh, and forget about road cruising.

Other than that I can only suggest you get Arnold's field guide, at least until Jeroen and friends' book comes out the bible for European herps, and ask around elsewhere as well. I'd try fieldherping.eu. You can post a general RFI as this one, or you can sift through the posts and member list for members with local knowledge and send PM's. Often you'll get a better response addressing individuals directly.

Finally, good luck and have a nice trip :)

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Jeroen Speybroeck
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Re: Herping Southern Germany Questions (?)s

Post by Jeroen Speybroeck » June 7th, 2015, 9:09 am

Hmm... I'm afraid the number of German herpers on here is rather limited. How many hours would you be prepared to drive from Freiburg. From the top of my head, I know there are 2 members on fieldherping.eu (the small European counterpart of this forum) from S Germany, but both live at least 3hrs east. We have members in the nearby parts of France and Switzerland with excellent knowledge of (at least) Vipera aspis. Like Kristian wrote, aspis in Germany is very hush-hush, but the species should be possible to find in nearby France and Switzerland, especially if you seek some local intel. July can be brutal if things dry up for Bufotes viridis and surely Salamandra salamandra. My Salamandra spot is usually a sure shot outside of times of frost, but I'll be in the US from July 4th & it's a 5.5hrs drive...

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Antonsrkn
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Re: Herping Southern Germany Questions (?)s

Post by Antonsrkn » June 8th, 2015, 11:25 am

Hey guys thanks alot for the information! I appreciate the responses, I hadn't realized aspis was something of a rarity in the area, I'll cross that one off the target list then. Plenty of more common stuff to find which i have never seen before either!
krismunk wrote:For starters, here's a set of distribution maps for German herps:

http://www.feldherpetologie.de/verbreit ... amphibien/
Thanks for the link, looks like a good website! Wish I spoke better German, the only thing I know how to say is "Hello my name is Anton, I am 12 years old and I am a vegetable." No joke, thats it. Considering I am over a decade from still being 12 and don't think im a vegetable either, this is of limited usefulness. But latin names and distribution maps are universal so I'll definitely be consulting that website alot.
Also, be prepared that herping in Europe is quite poor by American or tropical standards. Diversity is low and for many species you really need detailed locality knowledge to have a fair chance in a limited time span.
Yeah I think I'll be a bit spoiled, I spent the past year doing fieldwork in Borneo and Ecuador, but i'm looking forward to something a bit different on this trip!
How many hours would you be prepared to drive from Freiburg. From the top of my head, I know there are 2 members on fieldherping.eu (the small European counterpart of this forum) from S Germany, but both live at least 3hrs east. We have members in the nearby parts of France and Switzerland with excellent knowledge of (at least) Vipera aspis. Like Kristian wrote, aspis in Germany is very hush-hush, but the species should be possible to find in nearby France and Switzerland, especially if you seek some local intel. July can be brutal if things dry up for Bufotes viridis and surely Salamandra salamandra. My Salamandra spot is usually a sure shot outside of times of frost, but I'll be in the US from July 4th & it's a 5.5hrs drive...
Hmmm to be honest I'm not sure, if it was just up to me a long drive would be fine, but I would need to consult with my girlfriend on that. I think a 5 hour drive might be a bit much but 3 hours I think we might possibly be able to do.

Well again thanks a lot to both of you for the help, it looks like I have a bit of researching ahead of me!

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