Coiled beneath discarded trash or rocky slabs, basking along river edges, and tucked into rock cuts beside the highway, reptiles and amphibians constantly surround us. While many people go out of their way to avoid snakes or shudder at the thought of touching a toad, herpers take to the field armed with cameras, hooks, and notebooks hoping to come across a horned lizard, green tree frog, or even a diamondback rattlesnake.
In Herping Texas: The Quest for Reptiles and Amphibians, Michael Smith and Clint King, expert naturalists and field herpers, take readers on their adventures across the state as they search for favorite herps and rare finds. Organized by ecoregion, Herping Texas describes some of the state's most spectacular natural places, from Big Bend to the Big Thicket. Each chapter contains photographs of the various snakes, lizards, toads, and turtles Smith and King have encountered on their trips.
Part nature travel writing and part guide to field herping, Herping Texas also includes a section on getting started, where the authors give readers necessary background on best field herping practices. A glossary defines herping lingo and scientific terms for newcomers, and an appendix lists threatened and endangered species at the state and federal level.
Herping Texas promotes experiencing natural places and wildlife equipped with solid information and a responsible conservation ethic. Throughout their decades tracking herps, Smith and King have collected humorous anecdotes and fascinating facts about reptiles and amphibians. By sharing those, they hope to dispel some of the stigma and false ideas people have about these misunderstood animals.
Michael Smith is the cofounder of the Dallas-Fort Worth Herpetological Society and often teaches herpetology to local classes of master naturalists. By day, he is a licensed psychological associate and lives in Arlington, Texas. Clint King is a longstanding member of the Dallas-Fort Worth Herpetological Society and has served on its board as the field trip director. He lives in Azle, Texas.
"Those aspiring to a higher level of curiosity and inquiry will find a highly rewarding read – and there is something for everyone whether you are a herpetologist, backyard biologist, interested layperson, or general lover of nature. I find myself wishing that something like it had been available when I was young. It promotes proper practices and embraces an appreciation of nature that sometimes can be late in coming to one's values, if at all [...] a thoroughly enjoyable, and stimulating book that hopefully will induce readers to put down their cell phones, turn off their computers, and get away from their TVs and return, at least for a while, to the natural world."
– Jonathan A. Campbell, author of The Venomous Reptiles of the Western Hemisphere
"Herping Texas is a richly narrated and illustrated ride of a read around Texas in the pursuit of seeing native amphibians and reptiles in their natural habitats [...] from coastal plains and humid East Texas forests to the High Plains and high mountains of arid West Texas [...] A most enjoyable multi-year journey for any Texas naturalist, outdoors folks, and reptile and amphibian enthusiasts."
– John Karges, conservation biologist, Texas chapter of The Nature Conservancy
"It is a daunting task to write about herping in Texas [...] However, these authors have done this unusual recreation proud in producing a book that will interest any nature lover and also appeal to the avid field herpetologist who might not be able to get to one of the areas described within this book."
– Neil B. Ford, coauthor of The Garter Snakes: Evolution and Ecology