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The Department of Herpetology focuses on biodiversity research and is home to the Amphibian and Reptile Atlas of Peninsular California. The Atlas documents amphibians and reptiles from southern California and Baja California using both Museum collection data and observations from citizen scientists. This binational effort brings biodiversity information to your fingertips and grows with the help of its many participants. With the use of digital photography, citizen scientists can upload their observations and record which species live in their neighborhoods and parks, or on the region's islands and mountain tops. More detailed knowledge of our diversity will allow us to better understand and conserve species.

The Atlas also provides a gateway into the department's biodiversity databases and collections. The department houses more than 76,000 catalogued specimens dating back to the 1890s. Over 57% of the collection comes from California and Baja California, making it one of the largest resources for this area. The collection is well represented with specimens from throughout the southwest United States, northwest Mexico, and islands worldwide. All cataloged specimens are computer databased, and we are currently producing high resolution photographs of each specimen.

The Herpetology department is supported, in part, by the Laurence M. and Grace G. Klauber Endowment for Herpetology. The Curator is Bradford Hollingsworth, Ph.D.

Projects and News

Read what our scientists are working on. More.


The specimens in our Herpetology collection document the past and inform the future. More.


We search and we research. We are keepers of the ecological record. Meet the team. More.


Understand this place we call home. More.

What to Do When You See a Rattlesnake in the Wild

Herpetology Collection Technician Laura Kabes provides practical advice for people who come across rattlesnakes in southern California and highlights how you can safely turn those encounters into valuable scientific observations.