Road cruising tips

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Road cruising tips

Postby mailjvdb » Thu Oct 28, 2010 3:32 pm

I have read numerous posts now, and the info on the subject seems limited and very distributed. Can you all share some tips on road cruising?

When is the best time? Dirt or tar roads? Before or after rains? Speeds? That sort of thing or anything else you might add. Also, what influence will the wind have on reptiles?

I've been doing some road cruising lately,usually at night, but no luck really, so any input would be appreciated!
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Re: Road cruising tips

Postby Ales » Thu Oct 28, 2010 3:46 pm

Best time for me is normally between 6 and 8pm, at this time of year,ovecourse it varies to what you want to find.
Tar roads are easier to see the snake and snakes like to sit on them in the evening because they are warm.
Yes after rain,even better in a drizzle,is good for finding stuff.
Not sure on a good speed?

I'm sure other members will have preferences very different to me?
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Re: Road cruising tips

Postby mailjvdb » Thu Oct 28, 2010 4:54 pm

I don't really care what I find, apart from the usual stuff, anything new or different is always nice. So general tips would apply here. I usually don't go looking for reptiles in particular, and mostly find them by coincidence while out and about outdoors at day, or when the occasional critter strolls into the home during night.

Most tar roads in and around our area is too busy,with the gravel roads being almost deserted. It makes sense as the tar would retain heat way better than the dirt, but in the forums opinion, how successful are dirt roads? Oddly I haven't seen many snakes on tar roads in this area, mostly on the dirt roads, but also no major success. Unfortunately I think the local's fear for these animals (and also their appetites) has made Reptiles, and especially snake populations dwindle in this area. This probably applies to most of the country.

What influence would daytime temperatures have on nightly activities of nocturnal species? My guess is if it was hot and sort of humid during the day, it would increase your chances all round, but what would be the case if it was a cold, overcast day? I understand this isn't something that can be explained in a nutshell,as it will boil down to specific animal behaviors at the end of the day, but I'm new to this form of herping, and either i'm doing something wrong or local reptile populations are heavily depleted.
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Re: Road cruising tips

Postby Ales » Thu Oct 28, 2010 5:28 pm

"Most tar roads in and around our area is too busy,with the gravel roads being almost deserted"
"Oddly I haven't seen many snakes on tar roads in this area, mostly on the dirt roads,"
Thats why you don't find snakes on tar roads,its too busy,they get scared away.
Maybe try travelling a bit to quieter areas to search tar roads.

"What influence would daytime temperatures have on nightly activities of nocturnal species? My guess is if it was hot and sort of humid during the day, it would increase your chances all round, but what would be the case if it was a cold, overcast day?"
Hard to answer,yes if its a warm day nocturnal species will be out and about.
Ive noticed that if it is a overcast day you will find some snakes out that morning or afternoon but not really at night,it gets too cold.

Donno what other members think?
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Re: Road cruising tips

Postby Bushviper » Thu Oct 28, 2010 6:19 pm

Reptiles dont inhabit the tar roads so you only see them on it when they are trying to cross them and the window of opportunity is gone again. If the road is really quiet (not likely any more) they might hang around a little to get heat from the tar.
The best speed to travel is about 20 to 25 km/h or else you miss them. Be aware that game poachers also travel this speed so expect to be picked up at some stage. Show them the photos (if you have) and let them search your vehicle while being friendly. This saves a trip to the cop shop or a possible armed conflict as they expect you to have rifles with you. With rhino poaching being highlighted you could be mistaken for them with dire consequences.
Fit spotlights and use them like dims while you have your brights on and cover the whole distance from right in front of the car to where your brights reach as well.
Keep your eyes on the rear view mirror for fast approaching cars so two or more people in the vehicle are better for this.
Dont turn around (it takes too long) but pull over and then run back with a torch. Dont just grab at something if you have not identified it clearly. Rather chase it off the road if there is oncoming traffic and then isolate it. I knew a girl who would use a broom and a box in these situations.
Get alcohol for dead specimens or take them home and freeze them. Make notes of the locality too.
Moonless nights are better just after it has rained.
Take only pictures and dead specimens where you are allowed to. Jail is not a nice place. Recently a number of herpers spent a night in jail in Mpumalanga and others in the Northern Cape and it is not a good idea to experience this as well.
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Re: Road cruising tips

Postby nvlooi » Thu Oct 28, 2010 6:39 pm

Show them the photos (if you have) and let them search your vehicle while being friendly. This saves a trip to the cop shop or a possible armed conflict as they expect you to have rifles with you.


Don't use handheld spotlights! This attracts the local farm watch and police and you are bound to get into trouble!

Dont turn around (it takes too long) but pull over and then run back with a torch. Dont just grab at something if you have not identified it clearly. Rather chase it off the road if there is oncoming traffic and then isolate it. I knew a girl who would use a broom and a box in these situations.


People has been killed or lost limbs in the process of RC by not having a second mate as a spotter for traffic!

Always take a cellphone with in case of an emergency!
Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure... - Nelson Mandela

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Re: Road cruising tips

Postby TonyK » Thu Oct 28, 2010 7:52 pm

Seems many people give up too soon when out road cruising.On the American sites people often talk about being out all night and then they are only working the same short section of road.The secret is to first identify the correct habitat for your target species and then concentrate on that section of road.
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Re: Road cruising tips

Postby mailjvdb » Thu Oct 28, 2010 8:21 pm

Thanks, some useful info! Basically my goal is to see what species of reptiles I can record in my direct area, almost like a mini SARCA expedition :D. I detail everything I find, even have a list of all the birds, mammals,plants and fish I have seen in the vicinity of my property :)

Being mistaken for a wrong do-er is my biggest concern indeed. On previous occasions when looking for wildlife, I have been stopped by the Police investigating why I'm driving so slow, but usually a explanation sorted this out. Also some people seem a bit trigger happy so I'm always aware of the attention I might get.

@Ales, the reason I said oddly, is I find quite many reptiles in the area just by chance, so its kind of weird not finding any when specifically looking for them... I have been driving these roads for ages in search of all kinds of animals but just want to shift my attention more to reptiles,as I have recorded most birds and other animals to be found in the area,but the reptile list is not so up-to-date

@BV:As a personal rule to myself, I never handle/try to catch any snake if I am unable to identify it, I have seen the results of this,ouch! I don't even free handle Heralds or other mildly venomous snakes and always use a hook or something similar these days. My friends think i'm a wuss for that, but I think its good protocol.

My commonsense tells me that windy nights/days wont deliver good results? Also some people say that going late at night is a good thing, I would think that from 15h00 up to 20h00 is best,but that's totally an assumption, whats other members take on this?

I'd like to go see what reptiles the Onderstepoort Nature Reserve has to offer, but getting in touch with the people who gives permission seemed pointless. Anyone on this forum know who to contact perhaps?

Some species of snake I have found over the years on my property:
Dispholidus typus (only once, never again :( )
Lamprophis capensis
Lycodonomorphus rufulus
Naja annulifera
Philothamnus semivariegatus
Dasypeltis scabra
Psammophylax tritaeniatus
Psammophis brevirostris
Leptotyphlops sp.
Bitis arietans arietans
Crotaphopeltis hotamboeia

Lizards:

Lygodactylus capensis
Mabuya striata striata
Chamaeleo dilepis
Hemidactylus mabouia
Panaspis wahlbegii
Varanus niloticus

I'd love to add much more!

If you take into account what BV said opening his post,"so you only see them on it when they are trying to cross them and the window of opportunity is gone again", it makes sense what you say TonyK. Maybe it would be more rewarding focusing on one stretch of road rather than trying to cover all the roads in one night.
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Re: Road cruising tips

Postby armata » Thu Oct 28, 2010 8:45 pm

I guess we are lucky here in the Klein Karoo where some of the tar road are quiet at night. There does appear to be more don'ts than do's. If you are in a strange area, e.g. N.Cape. make a visit to the police station and show them your bonafides, permit and vehicle details. Because even if you are legal they often ask you to accompany them to the station to confirm, so a night wasted. When searching gravel roads make a point of getting friendly with the local farmers, they don't like strangers at night.

With regard conditions - depends. Snakes have different activity cycles in various provinces. In WC puff adders are diurnal until end of November and then become sor of crepuscular and the best time to find them is basking on tar at dusk or just after. An hour after dark and they are gone. The opposite with house snake (inc. spotted) they like the dark and no moon.
I have found night adders feeding on the tar in KZN during cold drizzle. I have also gound gaboons on the road in warm drizzle. Some snakes you never see on the road, e.g. berg adders (I bet now that someone has!!!).
Day cruising is good too but requires great care re traffic. Some things again you never see - re tortoises, many angulates and mountain, and the occassional tent, but never padlopers, well thats my experience.
Daytime right now in the WC is good for mole snakes, cape cobras and puffies, Not gonna tell you about armata.
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Re: Road cruising tips

Postby mailjvdb » Thu Oct 28, 2010 9:43 pm

I'm going down to Strand for a month in December,but since the law is a bit harsh there I won't be doing any herping in funny places, also heard its best to leave the hooks and sticks at home, but I have no problem enjoying nature from a distance anyways...

My Dad is from originally from Riversdale and indeed you guys down there are lucky,especially with all the Bitis's and beautiful Boomslangs you get there!. Any places worth visiting in while I'm down there? We are staying over at the Karoo NP for a night, looking forward to that as we have passed it so many times but never stopped for a visit. If i'm not mistaken we are near de Hoop too, so I'll try and make time to check that out as well!
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Re: Road cruising tips

Postby it_bit_me » Sat Oct 30, 2010 9:30 pm

Here is a pic from driving home tonight. It was 9 o'clock and 16 degrees.
Image
If I'm gonna be an old, lonely man, I'm gonna need a thing, you know, a hook, like that guy on the subway who eats his own face. So I figure I'll be Crazy Man with a Snake, y'know. Crazy Snake Man. And I'll get more snakes, call them my babies, kids won't walk past my place, they will run. "Run away from Crazy Snake Man, " they'll shout!”
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Re: Road cruising tips

Postby mailjvdb » Sat Oct 30, 2010 10:50 pm

WOW! Is that L.capensis? Massive!!! Impressive find! What was the approximate length of the animal?
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Re: Road cruising tips

Postby it_bit_me » Sat Oct 30, 2010 11:09 pm

It's a very deceptive photo Mail. It is about 1,1 metre.
If I'm gonna be an old, lonely man, I'm gonna need a thing, you know, a hook, like that guy on the subway who eats his own face. So I figure I'll be Crazy Man with a Snake, y'know. Crazy Snake Man. And I'll get more snakes, call them my babies, kids won't walk past my place, they will run. "Run away from Crazy Snake Man, " they'll shout!”
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Re: Road cruising tips

Postby nvlooi » Sun Oct 31, 2010 8:13 pm

Weirdly enough BHS are the snake I've seen the least in the Western Cape(Boland)... and they don't get that big here that I've heard of!!

Stunner!!
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Re: Road cruising tips

Postby jka » Sun Oct 31, 2010 9:00 pm

Nice house snake, found a DOR as well yesterday. We get some nice size bhs here.
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