I am consistently amazed that in this day in age, many people just do not think of the internet first. Maybe it’s because of bad press about lack of credible sources. Maybe it’s because most of the state I live in is coping with dial-up. Maybe it’s because some folks are wired to wonder while others are wired to find. Who even know, the point is, regardless of your reason for previously not consulting the internet first, there’s a website for it.
Here’s an example. Friday night, I pulled up to my TV with a bowl of Buffalo & Beer Stew, kicked back my recliner, started to scan through my DVR programs, and noticed the cats noticing a snake wriggling its way out of my heater duct. For some, this would be a Hitchcockian nightmare, but for me, I was more, “No freaking way, huh!” about it.
I did become concerned with my cats concern because I noticed right away that it was not a Gartersnake. So what was it? No internet at home, no field guide. Could it hurt the cats? Was it going to be bitey when I grabbed it? So, I called up my mother’s house and I instructed them to Google “Vermont Snakes” and gave them the coloration and told them to get back to me with some probably species while I waited for it to show enough of itself that I could grab it.
They were skeptical about the efficacy of such a search, but I knew better. First site that comes up: Vermont Reptile & Amphibian Atlas, a product of Vermont Herpetology hosted by the folks over at Middlebury College. Not only does it give great, reputable information, but it is user contributed. Once we confirmed it was a Milk Snake (eastern), then I reported it to them as a siting and now they know my town has confirmed Milk Snakes. Everyone wins.
I have used this method for so many things I have lost count. Remember folks, there is a society, interest group, club, for every conceivable kind of thing. Most of them at least have a website with contact information. I am disinclined to wonder, I like to KNOW things, and I like experts and enthusiasts to give me that info. It is the most efficient way I know of.
And if there isn’t a website, you may have a niche here that could earn you a little petty cash!