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When I grow up I want to...

...be a herpetologist.

This is a massasauga rattlesnake, you can read about it and other reptiles by going to Critter Corner

Hi Amanda!

I just read your letter to EEK! asking about good schools for herpetology, and I wanted to reply with some ideas for you. You said you are interested in schools not too far from home. (I'm assuming you live in Wisconsin?) As the EEK! staff mentioned in their response to you, some schools in Wisconsin offer a herpetology class, and you could build from there. I went to the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, and had a great professor named Dr. Michael Weil. He specializes in herpetology, especially snakes. His class was great. After taking his class, I went on to do several other things with him related to herps: I did work-study for him organizing his herpetology collection, plus two independent studies. One of my independent studies was conducting research on the age structure of American toad populations in a nearby pond, and the other was a trip to Arizona and New Mexico with him to collect animals for his teaching collection. With all of that, I felt like I got a pretty solid background in herpetology to build from. So, I'd give you the advice that if you find a school with even one herpetologist, you can talk with that professor about working on outside projects that can help you learn more and prepare you for a master's or doctorate program after your bachelor's degree.

Finally, if you're at all interested in moving a little farther away, a school that is excellent in the field of herpetology is the University of Georgia (UGA) in Athens, GA, where I went for my master's degree. The southeast has one of the highest diversities of amphibians and reptiles in the world, so you'll get to see all kinds of species that don't live in Wisconsin! The thing that makes UGA so great is that they're associated with a place called the Savannah River Ecology Lab (SREL), which is a huge preserve in South Carolina (about 3 hours from Athens) where they do all sorts of studies on herps. There are lots and lots of folks there who teach and study herpetology--far more than any other place I've ever heard about!

Kristi Minahan
Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources



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