Every type of animal from birds to insects is studied by scientists under a particular branch of biology called zoology -- the study of animals. The scientists that study reptiles and amphibians are called herpetologists. These scientists dedicate large portions of their lives to the understanding of these creatures.
What Is Herpetology?
Herpetology is branch of zoology specializing in the study of reptiles and amphibians. The work of a herpetologist is mostly concentrated on research and experimentation. Herpetologists study how reptiles and amphibians behave, how their biological systems work, how they interact with other species and other animals, how they evolved and how their physical traits help them survive in their various habitats.
To become trained as a herpetologist, you must obtain a bachelor of science in biology or preferably Zoology at the undergraduate level and master's of science in zoology with a concentration in herpetology at the graduate level. At the doctoral level, a biologist who is dedicated to herpetology focuses all of his doctoral research on the subject. However, there are few herpetology programs in the United States, so entry into these programs is competitive. Some of the institutions that have good programs in herpetology include Harvard University, University of Florida and Cornell University.
The range of careers for a herpetologist is somewhat limited to research and education-related fields. Herpetologists often work for universities as professors or research assistants, teaching and continuing much of the research they began while pursuing their degrees. Other herpetologists may work for zoos or museums using their skills to care for the reptiles and amphibian species there. Still others may work for private businesses doing field research for the purpose of preserving reptile and amphibian species and studying the animals to uncover any benefit they may provide to mankind.
You do not have to be formally trained to be a herpetologist. Many people pursue the study of reptiles and amphibians as a hobby or a secondary career. These people are often referred to as field herpetologists. Herpetologists also often work with ichthyologists, who are scientists who study fish, because the two fields often overlap with these two groups of animals living in the same habitats and often interacting.
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