Course CodeBEN209
Fee CodeS2
Duration (approx)100 hours
QualificationStatement of Attainment

A sneak peak inside the course

Herpetology is the study of reptiles and amphibians and you can learn more about herpetology with this great course. Herpetology as a scientific study and as a hobby can have positive impacts on the conservation of threatened reptile and amphibian species.
In this course, you will study:
  • Introduction to herpetology
  • Reptiles
  • Reptile biology
  • Amphibians and their biology
  • Ecology of reptiles and amphibians
  • Conservation issues
  • Keeping amphibians and reptiles
This course is suitable for anyone interested in amphibians and reptiles. 
  • You may be an amphibian or reptile owner who wishes to increase your knowledge.
  • You may wish to work in the field of herpetology.

This course will help increase your knowledge and skills in this field.

Increase your employment opportunities with this fantastic herpetology course.

Lesson Structure

There are 9 lessons in this course:

  1. Introduction to Herpetology
    • Herpetology Defined
    • Introduction to Reptiles
    • Animal Taxonomy
    • Classification of Reptiles
    • Characteristics of Reptiles
    • Testudine Characteristics (Turtles)
    • Squamata Characteristics (Snakes and Lizards)
    • Rhynchocephalia Characteristics (Tuatara)
    • Classification of Amphibians
    • Amphibian Characteristics
    • Building Resources and Developing Networks
    • Terminology
  2. Class Reptilia (Reptiles)
    • Reptile Classification
    • Water Conservation
    • Reproduction
    • Order Chelonia (Testudines); Turtles
    • Order Crocodilia; Crocodilians
    • Order Squamata
    • Scaled Reptiles; Lizards (Suborder Sauria) and Snakes (Suborder Serpentes)
  3. Reptile Biology
    • Reptile Anatome
    • Skeleton
    • Scales and Skutes
    • Ectothermic Regulation
    • Coloration
    • Respiration and Metabolism
    • Food and Digestion
    • Senses
    • Locomotion
  4. Class Amphibia (Amphibians)
    • Order Anura (Frogs and Toads)
    • Order Apoda (Caecilians)
    • Order Urodela (Salamanders and Newts)
  5. Amphibian Biology
    • Amphibian Skeleton
    • Skin
    • Ectothermic Regulation
    • Colouration
    • Respiration and Metabolism
    • Branchial
    • Buccopharyngeal
    • Cutaneous
    • Pulmonic
    • Food and Digestion
    • Senses
    • Locomotion
    • Reproduction
  6. Ecology of Reptiles
    • Species Richness
    • Constriction
    • Injected Venom
    • Inertia Feeding
    • Biting and Grasping
    • Suction Feeding
    • Reproductive Strategies
    • Viviparity
    • Oviparity
    • Nest Building
    • Habitat Use; Aquatic and Terrestrial
    • Basking
    • Hibernation
  7. Ecology of Amphibians
    • Use of Habitat
    • Temperature Relationships
    • Feeding
    • Vocal Communication; Advertisement calls, Territorial calls, Release calls, Distress calls
    • Social Behaviour
    • Dealing with Predators
    • Reproduction and Parental Care
  8. Conservation Issues
    • Habitat change
    • Edge Effects
    • Pollution; especially water pollution
    • Environmental Acidification (Acid Rain)
    • Pesticides
    • Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals
    • Spread of disease
    • Invasive Species
    • Climate Change
    • Spread of Disease
    • Disease in Wild Populations
    • Trade in Reptiles and Amphibians
    • Conservation
    • Conservation Genetics
    • Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals
  9. Keeping Reptiles and Amphibians
    • Introduction
    • Legal Issues
    • Special conditions for Amphibians
    • Special Conditions for Reptiles
    • Preventing Spread of Disease from Reptiles to Humans
    • Housing
    • Reptile Captivity Problems
    • Reptile Feed and Feeding
    • Amphibians and Reptile Species that are in Captivity
    • Feeding Amphibians
    • General Care
    • Common Ailments in Reptiles and Amphibians
    • Parasitic Diseases
    • Fungal Diseases
    • Viral Diseases
    • Metabolic Bone Disease
    • Thiamine Deficiency


  • Discuss the nature and scope of reptiles.
  • Identify credible resources, and begin to develop networking with organisations and individuals involved with the study of reptiles around the world.
  • Describe a range of different reptile species, including distinguishing characteristics, their needs (eg. environmental, food, etc) and behaviour.
  • Identify and explain the anatomy and physiology of reptiles
  • Discuss the nature and scope of amphibians
  • Identify credible resources, and begin to develop networking with organisations and individuals involved with the study of amphibians around the world.
  • Discuss the nature and scope of amphibians
  • Identify credible resources, and begin to develop networking with organisations and individuals involved with the study of amphibians around the world.
  • Describe the ecological requirements, reproduction and lifecycles of amphibians
  • Describe the behaviour of a range of different amphibian species.
  • Explain conservation issues that are impacting upon populations of reptiles and amphibians.
  • Explain the management of reptiles and amphibians in captivity

Why do we need to study Reptiles and Amphibians? 

These animals are an integral part of the same ecosystems that man occupies. Disturbing the ecology of the world  can impact upon other plants and animals in ways we don't even understand. Understanding herps can help us understand how their existence impacts upon our own well being; and the well being of environments which we may need; or at the very least, may value in other ways.
There are many conservation programs in place to protect reptiles and amphibians all over the world. These can range from habitat protection to relocation, captive breeding and genetics research. 
Conservation Genetics
Conservation Genetics is the combination of the studies of ecology, genetic variation, molecular biology, mathematical modelling and evolutionary taxonomy. At the centre of this study is the knowledge of population genetics. Genetic variation is essential to the breeding success and future existence of populations.  Some species have high genetic variation whilst others have low genetic variation.
The knowledge of a population’s genetic variation is important in conservation biology to help manage endangered populations of reptiles and amphibians. There can be three causes of low genetic variation – inbreeding, genetic drift and genetic neighbourhoods (the size of an area in which mates can be chosen at random). Reduced genetic variation can greatly inhibit the growth of a population and can threaten the recovery of endangered species. 
With advances in molecular technology, genetics studies can now be undertaken with minimal interference with reptiles and amphibians. This technology can help conservation geneticists identify populations which can help in their management. They can also help identify conservation priorities based on distinct evolutionary lines. 
With regards to trade in reptiles and amphibians, genetic markers can be used to trace the location from which an individual originated.
Examples of Conservation Programs 
Freshwater Turtle Conservation
Freshwater turtles are under threat due to habitat modification, pollution, and capture for food, medical reasons and incidental trapping. Many countries have lost a large proportion of their freshwater turtles due to these impacts. There are many programs running around the world to protect freshwater turtles such as the Red River Giant Softshell Turtle, the Bog Turtle, the Southeast Asian Giant Softshell Turtle and the Mary River Turtle of Australia. These conservation programs involve monitoring of individuals and populations, habitat enhancement and in some cases, captive breeding programs.
Komodo Dragon Conservation
The Komodo Dragon of Indonesia is highly endangered due to habitat loss from increased pressure on forest and water resources. To aid its conservation, Komodo National Park was established to protect both the dragon and its habitat. This conservation of habitat works in conjunction with careful monitoring of individuals in the population to ensure their survival.
Corroboree Frog Conservation
The Corroboree Frog is native to the sub-alpine region of Kosciuszko National Park, Australia. Threats to the frog include damage of breeding sites by feral animals, disease infection such as the Chytrid Fungus, weed invasion and habitat destruction through forestry practices. The Department of Environment is working in conjunction with Taronga Zoo to increase population numbers of the frog. They have a captive breeding program in place, put in place measures to protect breeding sites and have initiated a weed control program. 


This is a course for people with a passion or serious interest in herpetology; for example:
  • Zoology students
  • Wildlife Officers
  • Ecotourism Professionals
  • Zoo Keepers
  • Zoology Professionals
  • Environmental Scientists
  • Amateur Conservationists
  • Pet owners





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