Herpetology is a branch of zoology that deals with the study of reptiles and amphibians. Individuals who specialize in biology or zoology to study these species are herpetologists. The job of a herpetologist includes taking care of and conducting in-depth research on a variety of reptilians and amphibians. These may consist of snakes, crocodiles, alligators, lizards, frogs, newts, turtles, toads and even salamanders.
Key Duties and Responsibilities:
Due to the concentrated scope of the job of a herpetologist, their duties and responsibilities tend to vary a little. Some herpetologists may engage in teaching, while others may choose direct interactions with the species through fieldwork and research. Nonetheless, their key responsibilities include:
Carry out research in different areas such as reptile and amphibian genetics, their anatomy, health and reproduction, physiology, and ecology.
Collect research and collect samples. This is followed by studying and analyzing the data collected.
Publish any critical findings in scientific journals for others to review.
Study and review papers published by other specialists within their fields.
Engage in the ethical acquisition, transportation, and adoption of reptiles and amphibians, especially those that are listed as endangered species
Conduct research in either a controlled setting or in the field. This may include studying preserved samples of ancient species in the museum.
The job of a herpetologist also includes caring for the well being of the animals that are being used for research.
Maintain safety of the animals in their care
Be responsible for their feeding and other needs. This also includes recording and documentation of the feeding chart as well as any further necessary details.
Plan strategically for reptile and amphibian rearing.
Help in eliminating any poison and controlling venom.
Maintain a clean and hygienic facility. This is not just limited to the laboratory but also animal cages and enclosures as well.
Many herpetologists also work as college professors when they are not too busy with fieldwork.
Those herpetologists who have chosen to limit their work to teaching prepare lectures, assign and grade exams, plan laboratory exercises and supervise students.
The job of a herpetologist also includes extensive travelling to remote areas so that they can collaborate with other specialists and pursue different areas of study and research opportunities.
Assist with veterinary treatment care of the animals and laboratory work
Plan, organize and participate in outreach and advocacy programs.
Write funding and grant applications.
Keep a detailed record of the assigned budget, milestones set and systems.
Work with as well as support and encourage team members.
Mentor interns, assistants and aspiring herpetologists
Take part in various seminars, workshops, and webinars to stay up to date with the latest findings and discoveries.
The educational requirement for the job of a herpetologist includes:
A four-year undergraduate degree in biology, animal sciences or even zoology
A Master’s degree in biology or zoology (since herpetology is not offered at bachelor’s or master’s level)
Participation in herpetology research as well as interning in relevant areas while finishing their degree
A PhD in herpetology
Skillsrequired forthe job of a herpetologist:
Formal education alone is not enough for the job of a herpetologist. To work as a herpetologist, one must possess the following skills as well:
Excellent verbal and written communication skills
Skilled reasoning and critical thinking
Patience and empathy
Love, Compassion and a keen interest in animals (especially in reptiles and amphibians)
Strong interpersonal skills
Keen observational skills
Ability to handle stress and long working hours in the field
The ability to work alone as well as with others
What about salary?
Given the nature of the job of a herpetologist, their salary varies a lot. However, the majority of the herpetologist’s salary is primarily defined by factors such as
Their level of education (A herpetologist having a doctorate will have more experience than one who holds just a masters degree)
The experience they have and if they have specialized knowledge about any particular species.
The geographical location
Nonetheless, the average annual salary for the job of a herpetologist is $30.49 an hour or $63,420 a year. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, a herpetologist can earn anywhere from $40,290 to $102,830 a year. However, those herpetologists who choose to teach at colleges and universities end up making as high as $80,000 a year.