House of Herps: The Origin Story

Amber of Birder’s Lounge and Jason of xenogere have filled a long-standing void in the blend of nature blog carnivals by creating a carnival devoted especially to reptiles and amphibians. I’m sure you are as excited as I am about the inaugural edition of House of Herps! I also thought that members of the Nature Blog Network might be interested in how a new undertaking like a blog carnival comes to fruition. Amber Coakley is clearly very busy these days but she has generously penned a guest post describing the process of blog carnival creation…

How can it be that “someone” has not already created a blog carnival for such a popular and important group of animals? I guess the blogosphere has been waiting on me! :-)

Who am I? My name is Amber Coakley, blogging at Birder’s Lounge. Sure, I blog about birds, but I have a great love for all animals. I’m a Texas Master Naturalist, a budding conservationist, and an avid supporter of wildlife rescue and rehab efforts.

One day, late this past summer, I read a post at 10,000 Birds, and it struck me that I had never heard of a blog carnival dedicated to amphibians and reptiles (herps). I don’t recall the post, but I do remember that another blogger, Ted C. MacRae of Beetles in the Bush, commented as well. He had not heard of a herp carnival either, and tossed out a few catchy names. That little exchange stuck with me, and I searched all over the web for any sign of a herp carnival. No luck. And I decided that just wouldn’t do.

My next step was to look up all of the blogs listed in the Nature Blog Network (NBN), listed in the Amphibian and Reptile category. My plan was to send an email to all of the herp bloggers to see if they were interested in participating in a herp carnival, would they be willing to host on occasion, etc.

I found eight. Eight! I was shocked, given the hundreds and hundreds of blogs in the NBN. I went ahead and sent an email to seven of them (one was not English-speaking, and English is my only language). I heard back from one blogger, and he was supportive.

Over the next couple of months, I thought about “my” frogs, who sing to me at night, sometimes find their way into my house, and delight my nieces and nephews even as they evade capture. I thought about the baby snapping turtle I saw in the road, and relocated to one of my ponds. I thought about the three-toed turtle that I freed from where it got stuck under my fence, and the stacks of red-eared sliders I so often see on the trails – and smile at every time. Then I remembered the baby water snake that would venture out of the pond in the evenings, and the super-cool, large snake skins I found floating like ghosts in the water. After all of that thinking, I was tired. Ha! No, really – I realized that much of the joy I get from nature comes from amphibians and reptiles. These thoughts led me to the conclusion that I would have to be the “someone” to get this herp-party started!

The next step I took was to contact Mike Bergin of this site and 10,000 Birds, to ask for his thoughts. He was supportive and very helpful, having no small amount of experience in this area. I contacted one of my blogging friends, Jason Hogle of Xenogere, to ask if he would be interested in helping me. I knew Jason to be a wildlife enthusiast, a great photographer, and fantastic at species ID – of anything. Finally, I contacted Ted to tell him what Jason and I were up to, and that we could not come up with a better name for the carnival than the one that he had tossed out months ago. “House of Herps” was just one of several clever ideas that Ted rattled off, seemingly effortlessly.

With this groundwork laid, I moved quickly with the next steps. I registered the domain with my hosting company (DreamHost), installed WordPress on the domain, and created the House of Herps (HoH) badge. I created the badge from photos I had taken, using Photoshop.

House of Herps badge

Next, I used the color scheme from the badge to design the WordPress theme, using Artisteer. I set myself and Jason up as admins on the HoH site, as well as setup our email addresses at the domain. Whew.

Jason and I quickly established that I would do the artsy stuff, and he would do the writing. We are both digital photography buffs, which always helps. Jason has written a great Introduction to House of Herps, I’ve written this little piece, and here we are! Oh yeah, and when I originally chose mid-January as the first edition, Mike said, “…why not a December edition?” Well, why not, indeed?

It is our hope that House of Herps will attract the very best nature blogging on the internet, and focus on raising awareness of and appreciation for these marvelous and important animals. At a time in our natural history when dwindling biodiversity is a major concern, wild herpetofauna need our voices.

If you would like to submit a post for the very first edition of House of Herps, please email your permalink to submissions [at] If you would like to host, contact Jason or myself and we’ll put you on the schedule.

Thanks, Amber!

One Comment

  1. December 10, 2009 at 12:00 PM | Permalink

    Hy heartiest congratulations to Amber and Jason for bringing this idea to fruition. While I focus on beetles, I nevertheless enjoy all things natural and enthusiastically await HoH’s first issue (and really, what naturalist isn’t excited whenever they encounter a herp on one of their outings?). The HoH website looks great, and knowing Amber and Jason I expect this will be a very successful carnival. Good luck!

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  2. [...] by actually going out and doing it!  Amber penned a guest post on Nature Blog Network called House of Herps: The Origin Story that described in fascinating detail the process that she and Jason went through in creating a new [...]