What is Herpetology?

Herpetology is the study of amphibians and reptiles.  It comes from the Greek word herpeton meaning a creeping creature.  Aristolte and Carolus Linnaeus, the scientist responsible for the taxonomic hierarchy we use today, didn’t much care for amphibians and reptiles.  Linnaeus is quoted as calling them foul and loathsome things hence the creeping Greek name he gave them.

Herpetologist is someone that studies amphibians and reptiles.

HerpsHerptiles, Herpetofauna refer to amphibians and reptiles.

Herper is a person who enjoys catching amphibians and reptiles in the wild.

Herpetoculture refers to keeping amphibians and reptiles in captivity either as a hobby or to commercially breed them.

Herpetoculturist is a person that keeps and/or breeds amphibians and reptiles as a hobby or to sell them.



Random herp facts:

Total world numbers of amphibians and reptiles –

Amphibians –

  • Anura (frogs and toads) ~ 5,600 species
  • Caudata (salamanders) ~ 570 species
  • Gymnophiona (caecilians) ~ 190 species

Reptiles –

  • Testudines (turtles, terrapins, tortoises) ~ 300 species
  • Sphenodontia (tuataras) – 2 species
  • Squamata (snakes, lizards, worm lizards) ~ 9,150 species
  • Crocodilia (crocodiles, gavials, caimans, alligators) – 23 species


  1. Plethontid salamanders have no lungs instead they breathe through their skin.
  2. You will not get warts from handling a toad (though it might pee on you).
  3. Snakes have no eyelids.
  4. Turtles don’t have teeth instead they have a hard beak.
  5. Geckos can lick their eyeballs with their tongues.
  6. Crocodiles can’t stick out their tongues.
  7. Frogs can use their eyeballs to help swallow food.
  8. Venomous snakes can still envenomate you after they’re dead.


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