Herpetology specimens of lizards with underbellies showing

Herpetology Collection

KU Herpetology has one of the largest research collections of reptile and amphibian specimens in the world.

Collection Search

Collection Highlights

  • We house one of the largest herpetology collections in the world (340,000 specimens representing more than 5000 species from 156 countries).
  • Our specimen records are accessed more than any other collection in the VertNet database (15 million+ records served).
  • In a typical year, we process loans for approximately 15,000 specimens.
  • We maintain a large and actively growing tissue collection of more than 10,000 samples.
  • We house the world’s largest collection of neotropical amphibian and reptile specimens (200,000+) as well as substantial numbers of Nearctic (80,000+) and Asian (20,000+) specimens.
  • Our collections from Kansas are the state’s largest (20,000+).
  • Our type collection includes nearly 400 primary types, mostly amphibians.
  • We maintain 5000 cleared-and-stained osteological preparations and nearly 5000 dried skeletons, in addition to sectioned histological preparations.
  • We have assembled one of the world’s largest collections of amphibian larvae (6000+ lots).
  • Our digital archive includes more than 12,000 digital images and more than 1500 acoustic recordings.

Accessing the Collection

The KU herpetological collections are a widely used global resource. Our goal is to provide as much access to the collections as possible. Accessing the collection generally occurs in one of three ways:

  1. Free online access to our collections database, including specimen records and associated locality data. Both physical and genetic information is available via VertNet or the Specify database portal. This is generally the first step for collections-based projects or queries. Each database is updated monthly with new information from our in-house Specify 6 database. Specific database questions may also be sent via e-mail to our curatorial staff.
  2. Loans of physical specimens to individual researchers. See our Collections Policies for further details.
  3. Visits by qualified professional and student researchers. We offer working space for visiting scholars from a few days to a year or more. Please contact Rafe Brown at rafe@ku.edu to learn more about opportunities for collections visits.