Field Herpetology

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Glyptemus insculpta Photo by B. Ryerson

EEB 3898 Field Herpetology
Intensive Summer Session I, 2014
Course Duration: May 7th - May 25th, 2012
Meeting Time: Monday through Friday, 1:00 - 4:00 in TLS 179
depending on weather conditions some classes will be held at night 7-10 PM instead, allowing us to observe nocturnal amphibians


Crotalus horridus Photo by Sara Horwitz

Bill Ryerson
Office: Biology/Pharmacy 412
Phone: (860) 486-4158

Course Description and Objectives

Ambystoma opacum Photo by B. Ryerson
Chelydra serpentina Photo by B. Ryerson

Course Description:
In progress

Course Objectives:
The purpose of this course is to familiarize yourself with the local amphibians and reptiles of Connecticut, and the techniques that herpetologists use to capture and handle these animals. By the time the course is completed, you should be able to identify (by sight) any of the amphibians and reptiles native to Connecticut, including how to identify different species that closely resemble each other. You should also be able to perform any of the standard field techniques, and how to use them to your full advantage in a potential research study.

Course Procedures and Policies

Grades will be determined as follows:

  • Midterm: 100 pts
  • Final: 100 pts
  • Field notebook entries: 75 pts
  • Participation: 25 pts
  • TOTAL: 300 pts

The Intensive Summer session I is only three weeks long. As a result, students are expected to be in attendance for every lecture and field trip, barring any illness or emergency situation. Missing one class during this session is equivalent to missing an entire week during the standard academic year.

Academic Integrity:
In accordance with the student conduct code, plagiarism and cheating may be punished by failure in the course or even dismissal from the University. Official University policy regarding Academic Integrity can be found in Appendix A of the Student Conduct Code.

If you are requesting an accommodation for as a result of a disability, please contact the instructor and the Center for Students with Disabilities (Room 201 in the Wilbur Cross Building) during the first week of the session.

Course Materials


  • Field Notebook – I would prefer if you use a composition book or the “Write in the rain” notebooks
  • Textbook – A Field Guide to Reptiles and Amphibians of Eastern and Central North America; Roger Conant and Joseph T Collins. Peterson Field Guides.
  • Clothing you are willing to ruin.


  • Boots
  • Waders (Will be provided if you don't have any)
  • Sunscreen
  • Bug spray


Opheodrys vernalis Photo by E. K. Timpe
Gyrinophilus porphyriticus Photo by E. K. Timpe
Date Lecture Field Agenda* Additional Materials
May 12 Introduction, Class Objectives, Field Notebooks Swan Lake, UConn Forest Archived UC Berkeley Field Notebooks
Notebook entry from Monday
May 13 Amphibians of Connecticut Hillside Environmental Trail
May 14 Reptiles of Connecticut Fenton River/UConn Forest
May 15 Environments and Field Techniques Mansfield Hollow
May 16 Amphibian Physiology Rain...boooooooooo
May 19 No lecture - Night Trip Fenton River/UConn Forest*
May 20 Physiology Mansfield Hollow
May 22 Conservation Bone Mill Pond and Bicentennial Pond
May 23 Collections/Locomotion UConn Collections
May 27 Feeding Fenton River/UConn Forest
May 28 Social Behavior Mansfield Hollow
May 29 Reproduction TBD
May 30 FINAL; Field Notebooks Due UConn Dairy Bar?

Pictures from Field Trips

Click here

Herps in the News

Additional Resources



Snakes of CT
Online Guide to Reptiles and Amphibians of CT
Reptiles and Amphibians of CT
New England Herpetological Society

Video about Amphibian Extinction
AMNH's Amphibian Species of the World
Amphibian Portal from USGS-NBII

General Herpetology
Society for the Study of Amphibians and Reptiles
American Society of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists
The Herpetologists' League
The Center for North American Herpetology
EMYSystem Online Turtle Resource
eNature Online Field Guides

Turtle Conservation Project - New England
Partners in Amphibian and Reptile Conservation
New England Partners in Amphibian and Reptile Conservation
Sea Turtle Conservancy
Turtle Conservation Fund
Amphibian Conservation Alliance
Most Threatened Turtles and Tortoises