The Amazon Basin Trip Which Made Me A Herper

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The Amazon Basin Trip Which Made Me A Herper

Post by lancehakker »

I'm new to the forum and although I've been fascinated with and searched for wildlife my entire life, especially reptiles and amphibians, I'm new to knowing that I'm actually herping. I love the idea of this forum and I'm going to share a few of my trips to sort of spring my immersion into this world. This first trip was in January, 2019 and it renewed my obsession with herps.

I got home and started researching and hitting up my homie from the skateboard world, Rothdigga. He's my go-to on all questions herping and I'm sure some of you have seen him pop up here and there.

Anyway, here are some images from my trip to the Amazon Basin, where I tagged along with my friend and his wife to Reserva Natural Palmarí. Palmarí is about a 4 hour boat ride from Leticia down the Amazon and Javari and it's gorgeous.

Image1 by Lance Hakker, on Flickr

This is a view from our room, a bunch of Oropendolas were mixed in with a flock of Cacique in a tree out front between the river and our lodging, now any time I hear their water drop sounding song, I get goosebumps.

ImageIMG_8029 by Lance Hakker, on Flickr

We arrived in the afternoon and decided to go on a night hike that night, the first of my life. I had no idea what to expect, knew nothing about herping, and the insects took me some time to acclimate to. This was my first Tailless Whip Scorpion (amblypygi).

ImageIMG_7558 by Lance Hakker, on Flickr

Being from Southern California, I've seen tarantulas my whole life. The tarantulas in the Amazon though as something else... this Pink-Toed Tarantula (avicularia juruensis) was from my first night. They were common enough on these leaves that I'd see them in the background of some of my other photos, I wouldn't even notice them until later when I was home from my trip.

ImageIMG_8113 by Lance Hakker, on Flickr

Coming across this Ameerega Trivittata on that first night was the moment it all came together for me. I had a toy of this frog amongst a few other poison dart frogs, so I always romanticized seeing one. I may not have known what herping was yet, but I was back!

ImageIMG_7914 by Lance Hakker, on Flickr

The forest was flooded and we would kayak every day, I thought I had better photos of the dolphins, but here's one I could find. We could see both species of dolphin all day, every day!

ImageIMG_2907 by Lance Hakker, on Flickr

We saw a lot of lizards running across the water while kayaking in the forest, but it was always hard to get a good look at them, let alone a photo. Got this Crocodile Tegu (crocodilurus amazonicus) just relaxing on the log. I still haven't invested into a proper camera since I sold all my skateboard video equipment, so these were all on my iPhone or a mirrorless point and shoot I borrowed from my brother.

ImageIMG_8121 by Lance Hakker, on Flickr

This dude is in his seventies and as hardy as anyone. He grabbed this Speckled Caiman (caiman crocodilus) out while on a night boat ride and took the lead on a two day hike through the jungle.

ImageIMG_7648 by Lance Hakker, on Flickr

This White-Throated Toucan (ramphastos tucanus) basically ran the place. I was actually kinda intimated by him at first, by the end of the trip, he was nibbling my hand.

Imageimage0-2 by Lance Hakker, on Flickr

After a few days we signed up for a two and a half day hike which ended up being like 16 miles through the Amazon. We had to carry all our food and tents with us. Afterwards I told myself I'll never do that again, but now that I have a much better idea on how to find herps, I'll 100% do this again when I go next. But it was rough. This is me with my friends at the beginning of the trek.

ImageIMG_7816 by Lance Hakker, on Flickr

Unfortunately, I don't have many wildlife photos from the hike. But the above video was the beginning of about six hours of rain on our second day. The first hour was a TORRENTIAL downpour and by far the most beautiful hour of my entire life. Every ache and pain from our packs went away and I wish it would have lasted all day. We had just started the hike that morning and about an hour in, our guides stopped us and told us to put on our ponchos because it was going to rain within the next five minutes and BOOM as soon as we got our ponchos on it hit hard.

ImageIMG_7846 by Lance Hakker, on Flickr

When we got back, I was talking to a few of the volunteers from Colombia that I had befriended and told them that the one thing I wish I had seen more of was reptiles and amphibians. They told me that a photographer and reptile biologist had gotten in while we were away and that he had some snakes he had caught the night before. This Linnaeus' Sipo (chironius exoletus) was one of his snakes he brought back to shoot, that's our guide handling the snake.

ImageIMG_7855 by Lance Hakker, on Flickr

At lunch this day, the cooks came over and told us there was a snake out back. We dashed outside and Sebastian Dido, the herpetologist, caught this Cat-eyed Snake (leptodeira septentrionalis) which I've seen a small handful of since this day. Love seeing them every time.

ImageIMG_8125 by Lance Hakker, on Flickr

We took a quick trip to Peru, which is right across the Javari River. This place is incredible.

ImageIMG_7957 by Lance Hakker, on Flickr

It killed me not to get a better photo of this Black Tegu (tupinambis teguixin) but it was running away so fast and... yeah, I don't know.

ImageIMG_2899 by Lance Hakker, on Flickr

This Wagner's White-Lipped Frog (leptodactylus wagneri) was protecting its newly born tadpoles pretty resiliently.

ImageIMG_2894 by Lance Hakker, on Flickr

Right behind the white-lipped frog was this Tree Runner (plica plica) I was circling it around and around this tree, it reminded me of our Western Fence Lizards that I've been catching back home my whole life.

ImageIMG_2918 by Lance Hakker, on Flickr

This trip now being two years ago, I don't remember exactly where I saw this one. Pretty confident it was on the Peruvian side of the river tho. A Guyana Clawed Gecko (pseudogonatodes guianensis). A super interesting looking lizard.

ImageIMG_8117 by Lance Hakker, on Flickr

Finally on my last two nights I went out with the herping guide I had met, and I learned a lot that night. At the time of our meeting he was a guide for Tropical Herping and this is when I learned the term herping. This is him with a Boulenger's Dwarf Iguana (enyalioides palpebralis) he plucked off a branch. The thing didn't even pretend to try to get away.

ImageIMG_8057 by Lance Hakker, on Flickr

We found a few Basin Treefrogs (boana lanciformis).

ImageIMG_8027 by Lance Hakker, on Flickr

We came across a few of these Transverse Anoles (Anolis transversalis) as well. I think at the time I didn't appreciate this one as much as I have since I got home.

ImageIMG_8024 by Lance Hakker, on Flickr

Maybe of everything I learned going out with Sebastian was the importance of good and properly used headlamp or flashlights. He was finding so many frogs, that it was hard to believe. I straight up thought he was lying, except there was a frog each time. This Big-Headed Rain Frog (oreobates quixensis) was pretty cool.

ImageIMG_8053 by Lance Hakker, on Flickr

Little Rufous Mouse Opossum (marmosa lepida), this little guy is much cuter than our possums in California. Obviously.

ImageIMG_8043 by Lance Hakker, on Flickr

I didn't know how venomous the Brazilian Wandering Spiders (phoneutria fera) were until one of my last nights. If you've ever been out in the jungle, you know how common they are on the very leaves you're brushing up against on the small pathways through the forest. There are just an insane amount of spiders in general. Their eyes shine like stars in the sky.

ImageIMG_7899 by Lance Hakker, on Flickr

This juvenile Rainbow Boa (epicrates cenchria) was such a pleasant surprise. It's the only boa or python species I've seen in the wild so far. Wait, that's not true, my brother found a Rosy Boa when we were children.

ImageIMG_7897 by Lance Hakker, on Flickr

If I'm wrong on any of my IDs, let me know. When I film skateboarding, getting home and logging my footage is almost as fun as shooting the clips. And I enjoy ID'ing the animals I find just as much. This is one I wasn't totally 100% sure I have right. I think it's a Gladiator Treefrog (boana boans), but the Map Tree Frog (Boana geographica) has me second guessing myself.

ImageIMG_7886 by Lance Hakker, on Flickr

Eirunepe Snouted Treefrog (scinax garbei), love this one.

ImageIMG_7878 by Lance Hakker, on Flickr

Lowland Tropical Bullfrog (adenomera andreae).

ImageIMG_2920 by Lance Hakker, on Flickr

This Perezs Snouted Frog (edalorhina perezi) was so interesting to me and I got the worst photo of it. 10/10 will find one again.

ImageIMG_2916 by Lance Hakker, on Flickr

Crested Toad (rhinella margaritifera), these were quite common. I actually saw a few on our 2.5 day hike during the day. The photos of them during the day in the leaf litter are insane. I still don't know how I spotted them.

ImageIMG_2911 by Lance Hakker, on Flickr

If I remember correctly, we saw two of these Nauta Mushroom-tongue Salamander (bolitoglossa altamazonica). Pretty cool considering when I go out for salamanders here at home (like I did during yesterday's rain) we're definitely not looking on top of meter high leaves.

ImageIMG_2903 by Lance Hakker, on Flickr

While on the trip, this was my favorite frog. Probably still is. In fact, this particular frog is on the amphibian poster that Sebastian made for Palmari that I have in my home office. Just a little bonus to have been there for some of those. Spix's Horned Treefrog (hemiphractus scutatus).

ImageIMG_8115 by Lance Hakker, on Flickr

Thanks for reading. I'm dying to get back. Luckily in three months I'm marrying my Brazilian fianceé, she's not as interested in herps as I am, but I do get her out from time to time. I'm going to tack on a Herp trip every time we go to Brazil, I already gave her the heads up, which I'm sure once the pandemic is over will be like once a year.

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Mirza Shahzad
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Joined: July 22nd, 2019, 8:30 am

Re: The Amazon Basin Trip Which Made Me A Herper

Post by Mirza Shahzad »

Great post and some really nice finds ! Finally that kind of post for which this forum was made. Brazil is EXTREMELY diverse in terms of herps, and since now u have an excuse for visiting the country regularly, try visiting the different zones: Mata atlantica, Amazon, Pantanal etc. To avoid the tegu situation, u can invest in a decent bridge camera. Gives exceptional quality images for both macro as well as higher end of zoom range, easier to carry around too.

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Re: The Amazon Basin Trip Which Made Me A Herper

Post by zeevng »

Great post, and welcome to the Forum! I think we'd all love to see life being breathed into the forum again, with posts like this.
Keep them coming, and happy herping!

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Re: The Amazon Basin Trip Which Made Me A Herper

Post by lancehakker »

Thanks zeevng and Mizra, I'm glad you feel that way. That's exactly what drew me to this forum, even now. And I'll definitely be visiting different zones in Brazil and other countries as well!

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Scott Waters
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Re: The Amazon Basin Trip Which Made Me A Herper

Post by Scott Waters »

I think most of us have “that place” that made us a herper. For me it was the hills and river banks along the Neosho River in southeastern Kansas. I was only there sporadically as a kid, visiting my grandparents in the summer months, but it cemented my interest in seeing herps in the wild, or what we all call field herping.

Thanks for sharing, reminded me of my roots. I don’t live anywhere near SE KS now, but your post took me back there. Kudos!

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