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Duration (approx) 100 hours
Qualification Statement of Attainment

Herpetology as a hobby or a career

Learn to identify understand and manage reptiles and amphibians

Herpetology is the fascinating and challenging study of reptiles and amphibians. Whether you want to keep these amazing animals as pets or venture down the herpetology-based career path, this course will serve you well.

  • Learn to identify, understand, and manage reptiles and amphibians

  • Understand habitat requirements for reptiles and amphibians in captivity.

  • Learn about environmental, ecological and conservation issues relating to reptiles and amphibians.


Start the course at any time and study at your own pace, from anywhere in the world.





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Keeping these cold-blooded friends as pets

  • Learn how to identify and understand the needs of reptiles and amphibians.
  • Learn how to classy reptiles and amphibians.
  • Understand the characteristics and environmental requirements of amphibians and reptiles.

  • Study the ecology of amphibians and reptiles.

  • Understand how to properly look after amphibians and reptiles as pets.

Course Duration: 100 hours of self paced study. Start at any time and study when you want.


There are 9 lessons in this course, as outline below. 
1. Introduction to HerpetologyLearn to identify understand and manage reptiles and amphibians
  • 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 Anatomy.
  • Skeleton.
  • Scales and Skutes.
  • Ectothermal 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.
  • Ectothermal 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.
What Sort of Environment Do You Need?

Reptiles and amphibians are more variable than what many people imagine, in many respects from size and shape to what they eat and where they live.

They may all be cold blooded animals; but this doesn't mean they all need to live in hot environments. Frogs may spawn in water, but this doesn't mean all frogs live most of their lives in water.  Herps can be kept as pets all over the world, so long as you create the right environment for the particular species you are keeping.

Consider the great variety of both terrestrial and aquatic habitats that reptiles inhabit across the world. These include:

Aquatic Environments

  • Oceans – eg. saltwater crocodiles, sea snakes and marine turtles.
  • Lagoons – eg. alligators and turtles.
  • Rivers – eg. Nile crocodile, caimans and long-necked turtles.
  • Mangroves – eg. mangrove snakes, mangrove monitors and dtellas (genus of gecko).
  • Wetlands – eg. timber rattlesnakes, copperheads and snapping turtles.
  • Marshes – eg. terrapins, and alligators (in low salinity marshes).

Terrestrial Environments

  • Heathland – eg. heath monitors, adders and slow worms.
  • Grasslands – eg. garter snakes and grassland earless dragon (endangered).
  • Scrub.
  • Islands – eg. Day Geckos of Mauritius, Marine Iguanas.
  • Sand Dunes – eg. sand dune lizard, sand goannas and shinglebacks.
  • Woodlands – eg. grass snakes, blue-tongued lizards and three-toed box turtle.
  • Rainforests – pythons, geckoes and green iguana.
  • Riparian Forest – eg. turtles, skinks and snakes.
  • Cliffs – eg. rattlesnakes, spiny lizards and suckers.
  • Farmland – eg. black mamba, grass snakes and skinks .
  • Parks and Gardens – eg. red-bellied black snakes, blue-tongued lizards and bearded dragons.

No matter what the environment, sufficient suitable habitat is required to support viable populations in the long-term.

Most reptiles have a limited ability to disperse and may not recolonise an isolated site once it has been lost. If habitats are small there needs to be connectivity between these patches to ensure genetic diversity. All reptiles require shelter from the elements and warmth. They may also require cover to escape from predators.  

Study amphibians and reptiles by distance learning

Are you ready?

Whether you use it for developing your hobby in keeping herps as pets, or whether you may even want to initiate a career path in herpetology, this online course will give you a great understanding in how to care for an manage reptiles and amphibians. So 'hop' to it!





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Meet some of our academics

Alison Pearce (animal)B.Sc.(Hons) in Animal Science. Masters Degree in Ecotourism. P.G.Cert. Ed. (Science). Alison's first job was in 1982 as a stockwoman, working with pigs in Yorkshire. Within a few years she of that she was working for the University of Western Australia as a Research Technician and instructor with their school of Agricultural Science.In 1989 she moved to Melbourne University as Unit Manager and Instructor in Animal Husbandry. By the mid 1990's she moved back to England to work in Animal Care and Veterinary Nursing at Cambridgeshire College of Agriculture. Throughout her career, Alison has developed and delivered courses in veterinary nursing and animal sciences for vocational colleges and universities in Australia, New Zealand and Australia. She has built a high level of expertise and an outstanding international reputation as an expert in animal sciences.
Dr. Gareth PearceGraduated from the University of Nottingham in 1982 with a B.Sc.(Hons) in Animal Science. Between 82 and 85 worked as Research Assistant and Demonstator in Animal Science at the University of Leeds. Over more than 30 years he has furthered his studies, obtaining eight significant university qualifications including degrees in Veterinary Science, Wildlife Conservation and Animal Behaviour. Gareth has significant teaching experience around the world as a faculty member at eight different universities including Associate Professor at Murdoch University and Director of Studies in Veterinary Science at Cambridge University. He has over 100 prestigious research papers published, and enjoys an outstanding international reputation in the fields of animal and veterinary science.
Cheryl McLardyA scientist, teacher, writer and animal scientist, with more than 20 years experience including: Sports Horse Stud Groom, Stable Manager, Yard Manager, Equine industrial Training Manager, FE Distance Learning Manager. Cheryl has travelled widely, working in England, Scotland, Australia and New Zealand; and is now based in Scotland. She holds a Bachelor of Science (Hons), Higher National Diploma in Horse Management, and a City and Guilds Teaching Certificate.

Check out our eBooks

Working with AnimalsIf you enjoy interacting with animals, are interested in biological science, or are passionate about wildlife, pets or farming; you may thrive in the type of jobs outlined in this book. Get to know more about the industries and the occupations that you could do. The Working with Animals ebook is a comprehensive catalogue to inspire you in your career in working with animals!
Aquaponics eBookThe Aquaponics ebook will give you a great understanding of how to start your own aquaponics production. This 65 page ebook provides you with enough information to start your own home production and even manage issues as they arise. This is a great way to become more self-sufficient and produce a sustainable food source for your own household. Aquaponic farming allows individual families to grow a much wider range of produce, in a much smaller space. They can provide the protein needed for their diet (from fish), as well as the vegetables and fruit they need. Aquaponic systems can be as small as a few cubic meters; or as large as many acres. They are an ideal way of improving productivity on a hobby farm; can be used by restaurants to produce the freshest produce on site, or established inside buildings, in big cities, for urban farming.
Marine AnimalsWith colour photos splashed throughout, this Marine Animals e-book is designed to provide a guide for some of the more common animals found in marine ecosystems around the world. Learn about the creatures hidden by the other 70% of the earth's surface. Explore more...
Tropical PlantsThis luscious, illustrated ebook covers hundreds of different plant genera, and many more cultivars. You will learn how to grow plants commonly cultivated in the tropics and subtropics. It contains everything you need to know about growing tropical plants, managing them and working with them (they can be a little temperamental). Many of the plants can also grow in milder climates as indoor plants or in protected places. Previously published in print form by Kangaroo Press (Simon and Schuster).