A Herper’s Glossary

ATM: (acronym) About To Molt. The state a snake is in a few days before shedding its skin, when it is mostly blind, itchy, and especially cranky. Careful, she’s ATM and likely to bite.

Bag ‘n Tag: (v) To quickly and efficiently identify, capture, and store a herp in a labeled container for later release, either for scientific study or public safety. (NOTE: not to be confused with simply “Tag”, see below)

Barehand: (v) to capture a herp without any tools.

Corwin: (n) A semi-professional herper who often hams up Bag n’ Tag for attention, but has little academic background and is kind of a poser. 

Dance, The: (n) The process of trying to safely capture an excited and dangerous snake, often in front of a crowd of horrified students. Well, I flubbed the hook, so now we start the dance.

DBD: (acronym) Dead by Daylight, a reference to the myth that dead snakes do not fully die until the next morning, but really does refer to the long-lasting death reflex that can still cause fatal bites. Don’t pick it up yet, bro. Remember DBD.

Dundee: (n) A herper with no academic background, but has plenty of practical background and skill. He Barehanded that python, he’s a real Dundee.

GIS: (acronym) General Impression and Shape. Used as a reason or excuse for a vague identification. Alternate meaning: Goddamit, I’m Sure. How do I know that was a Leaf Frog and not a Tree Frog? GIS.

I know frog GIS. And this thing has frog GIS all over it.

Herp: 1.  (n) short for “herpetofauna,” reptiles and amphibians, evolutionarily distinct but often included in the same study for functional or historical reasons. Often autocorrected as “Herpes,” with disastrous results.

I went out with the guys last night and we all caught herps together.

2. (v) to search for, catch, study, or observe herps. See: Herper, herpist (obsolete). Conditions are good, so we’re going herping this weekend.

Horse Juice: (n) Antivenom, which is–seriously–made from horses. I got tagged, hit me with the Horse Juice.

Hook: 1. (n) The Snakehook, the herper’s trusty tool consisting of a long rod, usually stainless steel, with a short blunt hook at the end. Used for capturing snakes. Also doubles as improvised weapon, walking stick, staff of office, and back scratcher.

2. (v) to catch a snake using the hook with a simple scooping movement.

Irwin: (n) A professional herper who hams up Bag n’ Tag for attention, but has the academic background to back it up and is probably a really cool guy.

Kit, the: (n) Snakebite kit. Notorious among professional herpers as a generally ineffective placebo.

Phobe: (n) Short for Ophidiophobe: one who is afraid of snakes. Make it a quick Bag n’ Tag, there’s a phobe in the audience.

If you’re a phobe, you probably stopped reading a while ago.

Pollywog: 1. (n) regional slang for tadpole, frog larvae

2. (n) regional slang for intern, graduate student larvae.

Tag: (v) to bite a human (if you are a snake). She tagged me, bro! Get the kit!

WWSID: (acronym) What Would Steve Irwin Do?

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