Amphibians and Reptiles maintains a collection of ca. 233,256 specimens and ranks in the top ten amphibian and reptile collections in the US. More than ninety-five percent are fluid preserved, but others are prepared as skeletons, skins, mounts, cleared and stained preparations, eggs, etc.

The collection is international in scope and includes specimens from 170 countries, with holdings of more than 1,000 specimens from Bahamas, Bolivia, Brazil, Cameroon, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Haiti, India, Jamaica, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Philippines, South Africa, Spain, Trinidad and Tobago, United States, and Venezuela. The North American collection is the largest and includes specimens from every state, with 20 states having more than 1,500 specimens. Pennsylvania, Virginia, and West Virginia have outstanding representation.

The grouping of North American freshwater turtles is among the largest in the world. Many of the specimens come from researchers investigating sex determination by incubation temperature of eggs. The specimens deposited by Richard Vogt and Michael Ewert formed much of what was known on the subject in the late 1970s through the 1990s.

Data from the collection are available on the museum's Collection Online website or on HerpNET (see below).

Type Collection

There are 148 holotypes in the collection. The largest number of holotypes (ca. 60) is from the Caribbean, primarily contributed by Albert Schwartz, and the second largest group is from the Philippines, from Edward H. Taylor. Twenty-three primary types are from South America with the majority from early collection in Bolivia. There are more than a dozen types from the United States, with a handful of others from around the world.

There are 1,872 catalogue numbers listed as paratypes in the database. Over the years we have exchanged quite a few, but because some paratypes were “lots” of specimens, we actually have around 2,007 paratypes.


The database currently has more than 168,800 records, but because of the lot cataloguing of specimens over the years, there are probably about 210,000 specimens with an additional several thousand uncatalogued specimens.

The museum collection was first placed online via the Gopher server at the California Academy of Sciences in 1994, along with 15 other collections, but this site is no longer in operation. Data in the amphibians and reptiles collection may be accessed via two portals at this time. Detailed information on the specimens in the Carnegie amphibians and reptiles collection is available at the VertNET portal and the HerpNET2 portal (see below).


Carnegie records are available on the VertNet site at:

  • Click the "Build Query" button.
  • Under "Select data providers," click “Carnegie Museum of Natural History—Amphibians and Reptiles
  • Scroll further down the page to select specifications including geography, species, collector, catalogue number, or any combination.

After selecting the search criteria, you can choose the mapping result set or the full specimen result set; set the “specify record limit” option and click on submit query. Depending on which result set was chosen, a map can be created and a mapping data set retrieved, or a full specimen data set can be viewed. The data may be downloaded by copying the onscreen table or by clicking “download tabular data.” Not all specimens have been georeferenced, nor have all georeferenced data been repatriated with the individual specimens. Note the field “individual count,” as exchanged specimens have a zero in this field, while some specimens are lot catalogued with many individuals having the same catalogue number.

The mapping program is via Google Maps GNIS when georeferencing data has been associated with the specimens. This format allows you to view standard mapping, satellite view (aerial photograph), topographic map, and terrain.


There is a second-generation HerpNET web portal at After accepting the terms, you will reach the basic search page. The query parameters are set up somewhat differently from the former HerpNET/VertNET query and are perhaps more intuitive for the first-time user. The mapping system uses Google Earth to locate specimens which have georeferencing data associated with them.