GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Lizards, frogs and snakes are usually animals that make people squirm, but others are out in the woods searching for them.
A group of citizen “scientists” in Grand Rapids head to areas to go “herping,” or to search for different reptiles and amphibians.
Matt Cranmer has been going herping since he was a kid.
“No hiking trip is complete without flipping over a few logs here and there and seeing what we can find,” he said.
The West Michigan native is at the forefront of the local herping community.
“I think people are starting to become more aware of just how precious our environment is, and how we might be the last generation to experience some of these species,” Cranmer said.
Throughout the years, Cranmer has uncovered and photographed dozens of species native to the area.
His hobby also serves a greater purpose for statewide research.
“We photograph it, often we report our findings to the Michigan Herp Atlas Project, which helps researchers track which species on different parts of the state,” he said.
It’s a way for people of all ages.
“Getting kids involved is incredibly important teaching them the importance of biology just being outside, it’s a great time to spend time with family, and a phenomenal way to get kids involved with nature,” Cranmer says.
By the time he is finished herping, Cranmer said he hopes to come across a mud puppy, a type of aquatic salamander.