Herpetologist

Research reptiles and amphibians.

What does a Herpetologist do?

What do frogs, eels, salamanders, turtles, lizards, and snakes have in common? They are all studied by Herpetologists. As a Herpetologist, you observe interactions in nature, perform dissections in the lab, and test behavioral theories on reptiles and amphibians.

Herpetologists help build the database of information about these animals through scientific research, dedication to accuracy, and passion. After all, if you didn’t spend weeks or even months watching the actions of a turtle family, the rest of us might never know that water turtles incubate their eggs by burying them in the sand, or that, in some turtle species, the temperature of the sand directly affects the sex of the baby.

You either focus on one area, or study all aspects of behavior, feeding, reproduction, mating, sleeping, travel, or habitat. Whatever you focus on though, one thing’s for sure-you have an eye for detailed, scientific study. You monitor the animal in its natural environment, in captivity, or in the lab. You scrupulously record every action, study previously published research, and build comparisons. You also evaluate variations in information-gathering techniques. For example, one experiment took place in a lab, while your data was gathered on a warm Florida beach (lucky you).

Your skills are used in many locations, and to achieve many goals. For example, you work at universities to produce publishable research results; at wildlife agencies to produce reports that aid in collecting government funding; and in zoos to educate the public about venoms, toxins, behaviors, and care requirements.