Documentation Tips

Written descriptions

If you did not photograph, tape, or sketch the animal, a person familiar with reptiles and amphibians should be able to figure out what species you saw if you document it well. It is helpful if you:

Avoid the following:


In order to produce reliable species distribution maps, we must be absolutely certain of the correct identification of the species and where it was located. The basic idea is that anyone questioning the validity of a report now or twenty years from now could check a photograph, listen to a tape, or read the written description, and from that information alone confirm your identification. Many people report Rattlesnakes; upon investigation these snakes usually turn out to be milksnakes or one of the other snake species which mimic Rattlesnakes by shaking their tails. This is just one example of the sort of misidentifications which occur. Unfortunately we can not afford the time to check up on all of these reports. Therefore, please take the time to document the species as well as you possibly can.