What is Herpetology?  Herpetoculture?  Herping?

Herpetology is the study of amphibians, reptiles, turtles, and crocodilians.  'Herpetos' is a Greek word meaning 'creeping' - all of the creeping vertebrates apparently were lumped together in one field of study, even though a frog is as different from a snake as a monkey is from a hummingbird.

One can be gainfully employed as a herpetologist and work at a university or a museum, studying the taxonomy, physiology, ecology, and other aspects of creeping things.  You can also go out to a vernal pool and watch frogs and salamanders reproduce and thereby study herpetology.


"The current definition of herpetoculture is the captive husbandry and propagation of amphibians and reptiles; in more popular terms, it is "the keeping and breeding of herps"...Herpetoculture is an interdisciplinary field which can involve knowledge of herpetology, botany, small-scale open-system design, nutrition, geography, climatology, physiology, veterinary medicine, landscaping, etc. By the same token, herpetoculturists are a diverse lot of people from all walks of life and from a wide range of professions. A small number of people are professional herpetoculturists, meaning that herpetoculture is their primary source of income."

Philippe de Vosjoli, Herpetoculture In A Changing World , Vivarium Magazine.

Herping, or Field Herping, is the act of putting on your hiking boots, dropping a sack lunch, a camera and a field guide in your knapsack, and heading outdoors to see herps (amphibians, reptiles, turtles, and crocodilians) where they live.  Oftentimes it means getting wet, cold, muddy, exhausted, sunburned, or lost, but that's all part of the fun.  The results can be enormously satisfying - seeing a rattler coiled on a ledge, watching a salamander crawl to a vernal pool, listening to the frog chorus on a rainy spring night.  In doing so, you can also visit some of the most beautiful places on earth.

It can be difficult to find people with similar interests and field herping is no exception.  Field herping is growing in popularity, and field herpers are starting to organize and hang out together. You can meet fellow field herpers on the Field Herp Forum (www.fieldherpforum.com).