Research & Collections

Amphibians & Reptiles

Bog Turtle on blackThe North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences’ amphibian and reptile collection, started in the late 1800s by Museum co-founder C.S. Brimley, contains over 78,300 cataloged records (June 2011) consisting of approximately 200,000 specimens. It is one of the largest and most complete regional collections in the United States.

Approximately 80% of the collection consists of North Carolina material, although at least 45 states, 24 countries, and 650 species are represented. Other states with substantial representation include California, Delaware, Georgia, Florida, Louisiana, New Jersey, New York, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia. Other countries with substantial representation include Laos, Vietnam, and Gabon.

Northern Pine SnakeMost of the specimens have been accumulated since the 1960s when William Palmer, then curator of lower vertebrates, began caring for the collections. Major acquisitions include Duke University (Joseph Bailey’s collection), Davidson College (E. E. Brown’s collection), Virginia Commonwealth University (Charles Blem’s collection), University of North Carolina’s Institute of Marine Sciences, and State University of New York at Binghamton (Ted Murphy’s collection). Richard Bruce, Richard Montanucci, R. W. Gaul, Jr., and Michael Dorcas have made substantial recent contributions to the collection.

The collection houses fluid-preserved specimens, skeletons, skins, tissues for molecular analyses, and other materials. Photographic vouchers, field notes, other museums’ records of North Carolina holdings, and specimen data sheets are also maintained as part of the materials documenting these resources.

Researchers and the management community use the collection to identify, document geographic distributions, learn the biology, and determine the conservation status of populations and species of amphibians and reptiles in North Carolina and the world beyond.

Online Publications:Cottonmouth in Dare County, NC


For loan or other information, please contact Curator of Amphibians and Reptiles Bryan Stuart at or 919.707.8861.

Staff Web Pages