Reporting NH Reptile and Amphibian Sightings
Important Information on Reporting NH Reptile and Amphibian Sightings
Reptile and Amphibian Reporting Program (RAARP) is a program coordinated by the NH Fish and Game Nongame & Endangered Wildlife Program where volunteers report sightings of reptiles and amphibians from spring peepers to snapping turtles. These reports are extremely valuable to biologists.
Observations are used to determine the distribution of all reptiles and amphibians within New Hampshire. Reports of less common species are very important. Verified reports of rare species locations are mapped and stored in a database used for land protection and conservation purposes. Reports should be accompanied by a clear photograph whenever possible. To be added to the spring mailing list, please contact the NH Fish and Game Wildlife Division: (603) 271-2461 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. RAARP participants must obey all local, state, and federal laws while collecting reptile and amphibian location data. Observers are advised to get landowner permission before going onto private property.
Species to Survey
We welcome reports of any New Hampshire herps. While we know that painted turtles and bullfrogs, for example, are common, we have little documentation of species occurrence in particular waterbodies or towns. Specific location information on each sighting of all species, whether rare or common, is important.
There are 39 (more if you count subspecies) herp species in NH. While many are distinctive, a few are difficult to tell apart as adults or juveniles (especially as larvae or tadpoles), others are rare. Use of reference materials is encouraged for accurate identification. DO NOT COLLECT specimens (except for road kills). Voucher specimens are not needed. Collection for personal purposes is discouraged. Photographs are encouraged, and provide an acceptable means of verification.
Species marked with a * on the List of Amphibians and Reptiles of New Hampshire require documentation: a detailed description of the actual animal (not a description from a book), a drawing, or a clear photograph. These species are rare or similar to other species.
RAARP data is entered into the computer as a "verified" or a "sighting" report. In order for a sighting to be considered "verified," it must be accompanied by documentation. Photographs are acceptable documentation. As collection is not encouraged, specimens are not required. However, a properly preserved road kill may be submitted as documentation (see "Tips on Field Techniques"). A reporting slip unaccompanied by documentation is considered a "sighting report."
This classification of reports is not a reflection on your identification skills. Science has long required documentation of observations, historically provided by a specimen. Photographs are now considered acceptable. Herp Atlas projects, being conducted in many states, require documentation of all sightings.
Do continue to send in undocumented sighting reports. These reports do provide useful information.
Submit forms at any time - singly or in bulk, as you please. If you encounter any of the * species, send these forms immediately; we may want to send someone out to confirm the sighting or gather more information.
Reptile and Amphibian References
- Conant, Roger. 1991. A field guide to reptiles and amphibians of eastern and central North America, 3rd edition. Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston. 450 pp.
- Cochran, D.M. and C.J. Goin. 1970. The new field book of reptiles and amphibians. G.P. Putnam's Sons, New York. 359 pp.
- DeGraff, R.M. and D.D. Rudis. 1983. Amphibians and reptiles of New England: habitats and natural history. The University of Massachusetts Press, Amherst. 85 pp.
- Epple, A.O. 1983. The amphibians of New England. Down East Books, Camden, ME. 138 pp.
- Tyning, T.F. 1990. A guide to amphibians and reptiles. Little, Brown and Company, Boston. 400 pp.
- Voices of the Night - The calls of the Frogs and Toads of Eastern North America. Library of Natural Sounds, Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology.
Completing the Form
- Species - use one slip for each sighting. Remember, species marked by * on the List of Amphibians and Reptiles of New Hampshire need special attention. Document these sightings with a photo, drawing, or detailed description.
- Seen or heard - circle whether the observation was visual and/or auditory. Frog and toad identifications often can be made by calls or choruses.
- Date/Time of observation - date animal observed. Include the time of day.
- Photo taken - observers are encouraged to take photos, slides, or prints. Remember, "*" marked species require documentation. Send the photo with the sighting slip. A photo is a means of verification.
- Age - circle the appropriate age category.
- Sex - circle appropriate designation.
- Number of animals - circle "1" if a single animal was observed; fill in the number # if more than one and you can get a count or good estimate; "too many to count" would include frog/toad breeding choruses or a salamander congress.
- Town - where the animal was found.
- Waterbody - if the animal was found in or around a pond, swamp, stream, etc. Give name of waterbody if it is named.
- Specific location - this is very important information. Be as specific as possible. Include road and distance/direction to nearest intersection. If an animal is found in a waterbody, include a location feature, i.e., sw shore. Reference to topographic maps is helpful.
- Habitat description - use the back of the slip to briefly describe the habitat where the animal was seen, i.e., shrub swamp, lots of buttonbrush, edge of sandy pasture, under pile of debris.
- Observer - put your name, phone and address on each slip, so we have a ready reference to go back to, if needed.
- Back of the slip - use this to more fully describe an animal, its habitat, what it was doing, etc.