Herpetology (Amphibians & Reptiles) at Carnegie Museum of Natural History


Herpetology maintains a collection of more than 230,000 specimens and ranks as about the ninth largest amphibian and reptile collection in the United States. Ninety-five percent of the specimens are fluid preserved. Others are preserved as skeletons, skins, mounts, or cleared and stained preparations.

The collection includes the largest and most complete collection of Pennsylvania amphibians and reptiles in existence and significant collections from adjacent states, particularly Virginia, West Virginia, and Maryland. There are specimens collected from all parts of the United States and most parts of the world including major accessions from the Caribbean, Mexico, Guatemala, Belize, Paraguay, northern South America, Spain, South Africa, Cameroon, India, and Sri Lanka. The collection of North American freshwater turtles is among the largest in the world.  

Notable historic collections rich in type specimens are the Taylor Philippine collection, the Le Boutellier collection of South American snakes, and specimens from early museum expeditions to the Isle of Pines and Angola. Collection data are completely computerized. Collection growth has averaged 1–2% per year. There are approximately 35 new research loans per year handled by the collection manager, and around 80 research data inquiries are filled annually. Research is supported by a museum library with an outstanding collection of 19th-century herpetological literature (Gunther Collection) and more than 22,000 reprints.