Herpetology is the study of amphibians and reptiles, such as frogs, snakes and salamanders. Amphibians are animals that are soft-skinned, cold-blooded and usually undergo a metamorphosis. There are over 7,000 species of amphibians worldwide. Reptiles are animals that have scales, are cold-blooded and do not have a larval stage. There are over 10,000 species of reptiles worldwide. Western North Carolina is home to only two venomous snakes – the Northern copperhead and the timber rattlesnake. The North Carolina state reptile is the Eastern box turtle, the state salamander is the marbled salamander and the state frog is the pine barren tree frog.
Herpetology Fun FactWestern North Carolina is known as the “Salamander Capital of the World” because there are more species of salamander there than anywhere in the world.
More Herpetology Tips
Click on the resources below to learn more amphibians and reptiles.
Herpetology resource apps:
- Snakes of North Carolina
- Audubon Reptiles and Amphibians
You may choose between two Herpetology Challenges:
- Choose one reptile AND one amphibian that lives near you to research. Draw a picture of each in their habitats and email your pictures to [email protected]
- Attend the WNC Nature Center’s Frog Watch on April 28th from 1:00-4:30 AND submit an observation to [email protected]
Herpetology Science Mentor
Mrs. Somers’ work centers on the biology and conservation of some small turtles found in North Carolina. Box turtles (Terrapene carolina) are North Carolina’s only fully terrestrial turtle and are believed to be in serious decline due to habitat fragmentation (roads, railroads, etc.) and destruction (residential and industrial development). She chairs a citizen science effort called The Box Turtle Connection which gathers data on these turtles, once common throughout our state, in hopes to guide conservation efforts. Bog turtles (Glyptemys muhlenbergii), found in the western part of the state, are studied using mark-and-recapture, radio telemetry and other trapping methods. Mrs. Somers is one of the directors of the Project Bog Turtle, a non-profit organization whose mission is to preserve habitat and advise state and federal agencies on the conservation of turtles. Additionally, she is a principal investigator working with a multi-disciplinary team working on an informal science education project called The HERP Project, funded by National Science Foundation.