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Field Supplies & Equipment

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Supplies, equipment, and retailers that I commonly use/buy from.  I made this page mainly to organize this information for my benefit, but share it here for anyone who might find it useful.

Animal Handling Measurement, & Marking

Gentle Giant Snake Tongs: Manufactured by Midwest Tongs, these are the only type of snake tongs I use.  The unique extra wide jaws make it nearly impossible to injure snakes, but provide for incredible dexterity, even with very small/neonate snakes.

Restraint tubes:  Clear plastic tubes with caps come in different sizes, great for safe handling of venomous snakes and for measuring of large aquatic salamanders.

Scales: For the lab, or dry environments, I like the My Weigh 7001DX digital scale (7000 gram capacity x 1 gram increment).  For wet environments, I stick with the Pesola spring scales.  I've had pretty good success with this very inexpensive and waterproof digital scale and I'm really hopeful that the "water resistant" My Weigh Barista is going to become my most commonly used scale.  It seems nearly perfect for most herps and the environments we work in.  Finally, for big animals (think Snapping Turtles), we're trying out digital (here and here) and analog hanging scales.

PIT Tag Reader: Global Pocket Reader can read all Destron chips, Home Again, AVID, Trovan, Datamar, ATmel, and ISO compliant RFID microchips.  Available here.

PIT Tags: EZid, sellers of the AVID passive integrated transponder (PIT) tag (125kHz).  Ohio Division of Wildlife requires that frequencies of 125kHz, 134.2kHz, or 400kHz be used.  Biomark has a larger selection of sizes, is more geared toward research use, and is much less expensive; my use of AVID is simply due to legacy.

Animal Tracking

Radiotelemetry transmitters:
I buy nearly all of my transmitters from Holohil Sytstems, Ltd., a Canadian company that is widely considered to manufacture the most reliable radiotelemetry devices.  Fantastic customer service, too.  Order early, though, as it can take several weeks during peak times.  Units I have used include:
BD-2H (1.4 grams, 35 days) for Eastern Hellbenders (force fed, gastric implants)
PD-2 (3 grams, 7 months) for Spotted Turtles
PD-2H (4 grams, 10 months) for Eastern Hellbenders (juveniles)
SI-2 (9 grams, 12 months) for Blanding's Turtles
SI-2 (13 grams, 24 months) for Eastern Hellbenders (adults)
SI-2 (9 grams, 12 months) for Eastern Massasaugas 
SI-2sp (11 grams, 12 months) for Spotted Turtles

Recently, I've also begun using transmitters from Advanced Telemetry Systems.  For small Eastern Hellbenders, we have had good success with the F1170, a mere 4 grams with an impressive battery life of 441 days.  While ATS transmitters are not able to be refurbished, they do offer a discount with the return of old transmitters.  (Increases in the cost of refurbishing by other companies makes this less of a disadvantage than it was a few years ago.)

Radiotelemetry receiver:
The R-1000 from Communications Specialists, Inc.

Automated GPS
: Wearable GPS devices that collect GPS points on user-defined schedule for later downloading, from Telemetry Solutions.

Habitat Assessment

Gravelometer: The "gold-standard" for measuring substrate quality/siltation in streams.  Information/instructions on conducting pebble counts here.

Densiometer: Quick and easy tool for sampling forest canopy.

Flow meters: The Pygmy Meter.

Water Quality: The YSI 556 Handheld Multi-Probe.  I've given up on the YSI; the unwieldy unit spent more time getting repaired than in the field.  I've been very happy with my replacement probes: Extech DO16.  They are very portable, easy to calibrate, and less expensive, too.  

Traps and Nets

Salamander Traps:
The Promar TR-501 is a rectangular, collapsible, nylon mesh minnow trap, perfect for conducting surveys of pond-breeding amphibians.  The only drawback to this trap is the ease with which they are torn up by raccoons and snapping turtles. 

Small Turtle Traps: The Promar TR-502 is a cylindrical, collapsible, nylon mesh trap that works great for trapping a variety of freshwater turtles.  Can be used to trap in shallower waters than traditional turtle hoop traps.   The only drawback to this trap is the ease with which they are torn up by raccoons and snapping turtles. 

Turtle Hoop Traps: From Memphis Net and Twine, these are the traditional 6' long turtle hoop traps.  Large, expensive, unable to be set in shallow water, and difficult to disinfect, but they do work well and hold up to even the largest snapping turtle. 

Bait Bags
: Sold as "Clam Bake Bags," these are the best bags I have found for suspending bait inside of turtle traps.

Dipnet: The D-Frame Aquatic Net from Ward's is probably the best value dip-net available.  Replacement nets are also available. Engraved brass or copper tags for your traps.

Miscellaneous Supplies

Batteries: Amazon's high-capacity rechargeable batteries.  Martin et al. (2017) reports having trail cameras capture 20,000 pics on a single set of these batteries.

Disinfectant: While bleach is the most commonly used disinfectant (and is very effective), it does have drawbacks. (See here for info on choosing a disinfectant and proper techniques for disinfection.)  I've begun using Virkon Aquatic disinfectant, which is much gentler on equipment, especially wet suits.

Forestry Suppliers: One of the best places to find outdoor gear and equipment.

Field Notebook: Don't take original data into the field with you!!  Instead, use a ring-binder with removable pages. You can even print your own field data sheets onto waterproof paper.  My templates for printing onto 4 5/8 x 7 forms: general herp data sheet; turtle data sheet; Hellbender data sheet, snake transect data sheet.

Turtle Notch Codes: Google sheet containing unique codes for notching marginal scutes of turtles following "The North American Code."