Next Gen Herpetologist

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Two thousand and eighteen was an eventful year for me because not only have I made huge strides in my professional career, but I have also managed to make a sizable impact on the larger Grahamstown community through my ever expanding snake awareness program. In recognition of my contribution to the city, I was nominated for two prestigious awards by Rhodes University; namely the Rhodes Community Engagement Award and the Rhodes Environmental Award. Although… Read More

At the beginning of  2018, myself and Luke Kemp joined the Rhodes ZEML (Zoology and Entomology Molecular Lab) herpetological cross-country fieldtrip. The trip saw us adventuring throughout South Africa, in search of frogs and reptiles alike. This first video details our time in Rhodes, a small town just south of Lesotho.

On the 19th of April, I was the keynote speaker for the Wildlife and Environmental Society of South Africa (WESSA) Grahamstown AGM, that took place in Eden Grove lecture theatre, at Rhodes University. In the first part of my talk, I discussed the reptiles that could be found in and around Grahamstown, and how to identify them. I also talked about snakebite treatment, snake myths, and what to do if you encounter… Read More

On Thursday the 1st of March I presented my masters research to the department in the form of a spoken presentation in the Zoology Department tea room. Although I still have a fare way to go before I complete my thesis, the talk was an awesome opportunity for me to show-off what I have done thus far. The abstract for the talk is printed below. Why ‘splitters’ are winners: a snakes tale… Read More

On sunday the 19th of November, myself and Luke Kemp hosted a snake awareness ‘walk and talk’ on mountain drive. The aim of the event was to expose the local Grahamstownian’s to the enormous herpetological diversity that the area has to offer. The day started off with a bit of ‘show and tell’ in the Rhodes Zoology and Entomology department parking with Grahamstown’s most venomous snake, the cape cobra (Naja nivea). Following… Read More

On friday the 17th of November, myself and Luke Kemp hosted a ‘Herpetofauna of Grahamstown talk in the Rhodes Zoology and Entomology tea room for members of the department. The talk discussed all the reptiles and frogs that can be found in Grahamstown and gave tips on how to distinguish morphologically-similar species. The talk also discussed basic snakebite treatment and was capped off with a short demonstration with live specimens. All in… Read More

On Monday the 27th of November I was asked by Prof Adrian Craig to do a snake demonstration for students from Hoerskool P.J. Olivier who were visiting the Rhodes Zoology and Entomology Department for the day. The short talk, that was also attended by Dr Shelley Edwards of the Zoology and Entomology molecular lab was a massive hit, with most kids excitedly jumping at the opportunity to handle live snakes. All in… Read More

It’s not every day that you can say that you were part of the history of science, but for Luke Kemp and I, a warm summer night in Hluhluwe of this year was just one of those days. In January of this year, Luke and I attended the Herpetological Association of Africa Conference of Africa in Northern Kwazulu-Natal. In addition to presenting our work and learning of the developments in the field… Read More

Today I received my samples back from their holiday in Amsterdam, and I am happy to announce that all but one sample worked. The samples from today coupled with the samples I received last month amount to 75 successfully sequenced samples to date. These samples, which comprise four genes, make up a large proportion of my sample set and thus represent a massive step forward in the completion of my thesis. But… Read More

Recently Luke and I (Chad Keates) went on a herping adventure to the Western Cape. We stayed two night in Wilderness and one night in Oudtshoorn, and the function of the trip, as usual, was to find as many reptiles and frogs as we could. Whilst dwarf adders and ghost frogs remained high on our list, the main function of this trip was to find dwarf chameleons. South Africa is home to… Read More

The Herp Files was created by myself and Luke Kemp. It was created with the intention of showing off the reptiles and frogs of Southern Africa. The videos include general information about each species with interesting facts thrown in between. It is our attempt to expose the beauty of South Africa’s enormous herpetological diversity while having just a ‘bit’ of fun. This video focuses on the puff adder (Bitis arietans), one of… Read More

Recently I was contacted by a Rhodes journalism student who was in the process of completing an article about snakes for the Grocotts Mail. Although strange to admit, given my current path as a MSc zoology student focusing on snake genetics, I was once in her shoes, completing my hours at the Midrand Reporter in pursuit of my second year Rhodes Journalism and Media Studies credit. Although I am very much a ‘science kid’ now, I… Read More

So as I am sure you have you gathered, I could not let the little ‘sheep stabbers’ go. Instead of just finishing my honours and leaving the skaapstekers in my rear view mirror, like I did with the painted reed frogs, I decided to continue on studying the snake with the addition of everyone else in the genus. Unlike with my honours, my masters will investigate the entire genus which is ‘currently’ six… Read More

So although I started last year, and even though I have a lot… I mean a lot to learn about reptile photography, I am happy to say that I placed third in this years department photo competition. My picture of the two very cute brown-backed tree frogs now hangs on the wall, in the foyer of the Zoology and Entomology Department, amidst the other photos which placed in the top three for… Read More

I am one step closer to becoming a professional herpetologist and its all because I was too stubborn to listen to my science teacher. This past week was graduation at Rhodes University and I am happy to say I got my honours degree In African Vertebrate Bioiversity with distinction. This all comes after performing mighty averagely for the past few years, especially in school where I was the ‘average kid’, capable of… Read More

Following our trip to the Transkei , Werner Conradie, Luke kemp and I departed for the biennial Herpetological Association of Africa (HAA) conference in Hluhluwe, Kwazulu Natal. We spent the night of the 22nd of January in my cousins beach house in Umhlanga and the next day we departed for Hluhluwe after a quick stop at Ushaka International Airport, to pick up Professor Bill Branch (World-renowned African herpetologist) and Ninda Baptiste (Angolan herpetologist)…. Read More

Recently Luke Kemp and I ventured to the Northern Cape in search of some of South Africa’s most insane herps. Although we did not find everything we set out to find, we found a lot and had a great time doing it. The trip was filled with some memorable moments and some even more remarkable finds. Thanks Luke for making it such an adventure, and easily the best herping trip I have have done in… Read More

Thanks goes to Canon’s Click Magazine and to Amber Leigh Davies for making me ‘Student under the Spotlight’ for the March 2017 edition of Click magazine. To see an electronic version of the magazine click on the link below. http://www.clickmagazine.co.za/flipbook/Click72/index.html#27

This video focuses on the Boomslang, one of Southern Africa’s most well known species of snake. The Herp Files was created by Chad Keates and Luke Kemp. It was created with the intention of showing off the reptiles and frogs of Southern Africa. The videos include general information about each species with interesting facts thrown in between. It is our attempt to expose the beauty of South Africa’s enormous herpetological diversity while… Read More

Recently I visited Durban, and more specifically Westville to see my cousins after a long year of work. While I was excited to see my cousins, and catch up, I was also excited to see some new ‘herps’ in Kwazulu Natal, one of the provinces with the highest diversity of reptiles and amphibians in South Africa. What I didn’t expect was just how much I would see. Westville Whilst there I spent… Read More

This red-lipped herald (Crotaphopeltis hotamboeia) was found in the process of eating a guttural toad (Amietophrynus gutturalis) last night (9 december 2016) in Westville, Kwazulu Natal. The toad was still alive when the snake started eating it but died during the process of consumption. The snake took over an hour to consume the entire toad. 

Toad Call

This list contains all the water snakes that can be found in and around water in the Grahamstown area. As the names suggest, this means that these snakes are usually found in close proximity to water because of their diets that mostly consist of frogs, tadpoles and fish. Although not as closely related to water as the other snakes on this list, the red-lipped herald has been listed at the end because it is closely associated with… Read More

Once again I found myself in Hogsback, and this time I was determined to catch and photograph (properly) the Amatola Flat Gecko (Afroedura amatolica). This trip to Hogsback was however not intended for herping or adventure but rather as a farewell for the Rhodes Zoology Honours class of 2016 who were staying on a nearby Hogsback farm for the weekend. Unlike my classmates who sought to study in the spare time between… Read More