HERPETOLOGY - Amphibians and Reptiles

Learn online, study Herpetology from home, with online courses in amphibian and reptile biology, ecology, and conservation.

Course Code: BEN209
Fee Code: S2
Duration (approx) Duration (approx) 100 hours
Qualification Statement of Attainment
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Learn about Amphibians and Reptiles 

  • Explore the biodiversity of these animals
  • Identify different species of frogs, newts, salamandas, lizards, snakes, turtles and crocadiles
  • Discover how these animals function, how to care for them in captivity, their anatomy and physiology, and much more
Commence your study whenever you wish; studying from wherever you wish, and at your own pace.
Be guided by highly qualified, zoologists who have years of experience with reptiles and amphibians. 

Lesson Structure

There are 9 lessons in this course:

  1. Introduction to Herpetology
  2. Reptilia (Reptiles-Lizards, Snakes, Turtles, Crocodiles)
  3. Reptile Biology
  4. Amphibia (Frogs, Salamanders and Newts)
  5. Amphibian Biology(Anatomy, Physiology)
  6. Ecology of Reptiles
  7. Ecology of Amphibians
  8. Conservation Issues
  9. Reptiles and Amphibians in Captivity(zoos, pets)


  • Discuss the nature and scope of studies into reptiles and amphibians.
  • Describe distinguishing characteristics of different reptiles.
  • Identify and explain the anatomy and physiology of reptiles.
  • Learn where to find up to date information, and commence developing networks with experts and organisations involved with amphibians and reptiles.
  • Describe characteristics of amphibians, including their ecology and lifecycles.
  • Describe the behaviour of different amphibians.
  • Explain conservation issues that impact on reptile and amphibian numbers.
  • Explain the management of reptiles and amphibians in captivity

Where do Reptiles and Amphibians Live?

There are over 6,000 species of amphibians.  Much about them remains unknown, or unstudied at all. Amphibians can vary greatly in size:

  • The Giant Japanese Salamander can grow to over 1.5 metres long
  • Some frogs can be no bigger than 1 cm long

Caecilians (Aphibians in the order Apoda) live in muddy ground in rainforests, swamps and in tropical parts with moist climates. They spend a lot of their time below ground and hidden in the undergrowth, but they are also good swimmers and can live in the water. Structurally they have eyes; but they are very small and often covered by a layer of skin (sometimes bone) so they are virtually blind. They gather information through two small chemoreceptors (called tentaclesone) located on either side of the head.

Salamanders (order Urodela) may live in one of three types of habitat. Some species are aquatic and live in water throughout their lifespan. Semi aquatic salamanders prefer to live on land but move to water during winter season for hibernating and with the onset of their breeding season. The terrestrial salamanders live on land all their life. They hardly enter into the water but prefer to live close to water bodies or wetlands.

Newts are also found in a variety of habitats outside the breeding season, including deciduous woodland, wet heathland, bogs, marshes, gardens, parks and farmland. They prefer standing water with plenty of weeds, such as lake margins, ponds and ditches, in which to breed.

Frogs and Toads (order Anura) spend most of their time out of water except during the breeding season when they will return to mate and lay their eggs. The Common or European Toad (Bufo bufo) can be found in fields, under hedgerows, in gardens and woodlands, in fact anywhere with a good food supply of insects. In the springtime they will walk for long distances back to their breeding ponds, which is usually the original pond in which they developed.

Reptiles can occupy a vast range of terrestrial and aquatic habitats 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
  • 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.


Why study this course.

  • Learn about different species of Amphibians and Reptiles from around the world
  • Care for animals in captivity.
  • Study the ecology of reptiles and amphibians.
  • Learn about their lifecycle.


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Member of Study Gold Coast

Recognised since 1999 by IARC

Course Contributors

The following academics were involved in the development and/or updating of this course.

Dr Robert Browne

Zoologist, Environmental Scientist and Sustainability, science based consultancy with biotechnology corporations. Work focused on conservation and sustainability.
Robert has published work in the fields of nutrition, pathology, larval growth and develop

Barbara Seguel

Teacher and Researcher, Biologist, Aquaculture expert.
Barbara has a B.Sc. and M.Sc in Aquaculture Engineering.
Over the past decade, Barbara has worked in Hawaii, Mexico, Chile, New Zealand, and is now settled in Australia. She has co authored severa

Alison Pearce

University Lecturer, Quality Assurance Manager, Writer and Research Technician. Alison originally graduated with an honors degree in science from university and beyond that has completed post graduate qualifications in education and eco-tourism. She has m

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