Herps live everywhere and have exhibited an amazing ability to thrive.
While they have existed since before dinosaurs, humans have definitely had an impact on their homes throughout the globe. What's going on and how can you help?
Just like people, herps want to be able to protect themselves. They have come up with some pretty imaginative ways like camouflage, shells, and “costumes” (like the frill-necked lizard that appears bigger or fiercer than it actually is when it expands its neck flaps). For many, many years these techniques have helped them survive, but it doesn't help them survive among human development. You can help them survive by getting people to sign the Amphibian Ark petition for protection, which you can find at www.amphibianark.org.
The University of Michigan Zoology Department has a website that has frog calls. Learn how to recognize the frogs in your neighborhood by their calls by going to http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/topics /frogcalls.html.
You can print the petition for people to sign or encourage them to sign it online. You can even have a fundraising event to earn money to help amphibians. Go to www.kidsforsavingearth.org, click on “Programs,” and then check out “Fundraising Opportunities.” Every little bit helps and you can encourage your students to speak up for amphibians and get civically engaged. One of the best things everyone can do to protect the planet and all of its inhabitants is to learn about the issues and then teach others. Everyone can do it!
Herps, Herps, Everywhere
Herps are extremely adaptable. Since they have figured out so many mechanisms for survival, they have figured out how to live almost anywhere. Have your students explore the diverse living conditions of the herps and reinforce their geography education by having them map the habitats of herps.
Using books or the Internet, look for a wide variety of herps. Look for amphibians, reptiles, lizards, frogs — the whole gamut of herps. Where do they live? Students can draw small pictures of each herp and then tape a picture of it to its natural habitat on a world map.
Frogs in Fashion
A good way to advertise the issue of endangered herps is to make a T-shirt. You can say whatever you wish on your shirt, but by simply having the kids draw their favorite herp and the words I Love Herps, you can bet people will be asking them to tell them what a herp is.
You can scan the designs into the computer and order heat transfer paper (or iron-on paper) to print out the design. Iron the design onto a T-shirt of your choice. Maybe you can find used T-shirts to use for this project.
Frogs are the most popular herp, and most major conservation efforts are centered on their survival. Still, there are other herps that need help and attention, too, such as alligators. Most of these activities can be adapted to any amphibian or reptile. You should definitely let your students help decide which species to focus on.