NC Herpetology Resources

Copperhead in New Hanover County, North Carolina. ©Bryan L. Stuart

The beautiful state of North Carolina is home to at least 164 species of amphibians and reptiles (here is a recent checklist). Below are some of the resources available to learn more about this fabulous fauna, including opportunities to help conserve North Carolina amphibians and reptiles in the wild.

Organizations & Agencies

The North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences in downtown Raleigh, with free general admission, offers numerous educational exhibits on amphibians and reptiles of the state and beyond. Be sure to follow the museum’s calendar of upcoming events to not miss out on offered programs, workshops and field trips. The museum’s herpetology research collections has served as the major repository for amphibian and reptile research specimens from North Carolina for over a century. Staff in the museum’s research and education sections serve as an invaluable source of information. Have a question for a museum naturalist? Ask it here.

The North Carolina Herpetological Society (NCHS), “dedicated to reptile and amphibian conservation since 1978,” is a must-join organization for anyone, including youth, interested in amphibians and reptiles of North Carolina. The Society meets bi-annually and issues a newsletter, offers educational and outreach programs, small research grants, manages stewardship properties for the benefit of amphibians and reptiles, and serves as a resource for identifying species, among other activities. Notably, the Society spearheads Project Bog Turtle and Project Simus to conserve and study bog turtles and southern hognose snakes, two of the state’s threatened reptile species.

The North Carolina Partners in Amphibian & Reptile Conservation (NCPARC) aims to “conserve amphibians, reptiles and their habitats as integral parts of North Carolina’s ecosystems and culture through proactive and coordinated public/private partnerships,” and is another must-join organization for anyone in the amphibians and reptiles of North Carolina. The organization meets annually and communicates through regular e-newsletters, spearheads the North Carolina Calling Amphibian Survey Program (CASP) and other research and outreach projects, and serves as an important information resource on conservation of amphibians and reptiles in the state. NCHS and NCPARC meet jointly, approximately every two years, as a “North Carolina Congress of Herpetology.” Subscribe to NCPARC’s email list.

The North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission (NCWRC) Wildlife Diversity Program studies, manages, protects, and educates the public on nongame and endangered wildlife species in the state, including native amphibians and reptiles. The NCWRC North Carolina Sea Turtle Project monitors the state’s sea turtle populations, including nesting, stranding and genetic data. The NCWRC produces the magazine Wildlife in North Carolina, which often features herpetological-related articles, and fact sheets on the status of species in the state, such as these on green salamanders, bog turtles, and sea turtles.

The North Carolina Zoo in Asheboro exhibits native amphibians and reptiles, and their herpetology staff conduct field research and outreach programs to support the conservation of wild amphibians and reptiles in the state, such as hellbenders.

Found an injured or sick wild turtle (or other amphibian and reptile)? The Turtle Rescue Team (TRT) is a non-profit organization run by veterinary students at the College of Veterinary Medicine, North Carolina State University. The TRT treats and releases rehabilitated turtles (and other herps) back into the wild near the site of capture. The Karen Beasley Sea Turtle Rescue & Rehabilitation Center does likewise for sick, injured and stranded sea turtles.

Carolina Reptile Rescue and Education Center is a family-run organization that travels the state to provide education to members of the public on native amphibians and reptiles of North Carolina.

Know of an unwanted pet amphibian or reptile? Remember to never release it into the wild! Instead, contact a local rescue organization, such as CCSB Reptile Rescue or Reptile Rescue of the Carolinas.

Web Resources

Search the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences online database to learn about past and present distributions of amphibians and reptiles in the state based on vouchered specimens housed in the museum’s herpetology research collections.

The Amphibians and Reptiles of North Carolina website and its accompanying Snakes of North Carolina app for iPhones and iPads were created by the Davidson College Herpetology Lab. These resources provide species accounts and photographs of most species found in the state (here is a recent checklist).

Learn about the Reptiles and Amphibians in Your Backyard and use the teaching guide Amphibians and Reptiles: Conservation of our Natural Heritage in your classroom.

The HERP Project at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro provides experiences and resources in education, conservation and field ecology of amphibians and reptiles for students and members of the public interested in North Carolina herpetology.

Is it venomous? Learn how to identify our six native venomous snake species through the Carolina Reptile Rescue and Education Center website.

Citizen Science Projects

Become a Citizen Science Curator at CitSciScribe and help the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences transcribe historical specimen records of amphibians and reptiles in the museum’s herpetology research collections.

HerpMapper gathers and shares data on field observations of amphibians and reptiles around the world, including in North Carolina. The Carolina Herp Atlas, also developed by the Davidson College Herpetology Lab, does likewise, but with a focus on records from North and South Carolina.

The NCWRC North Carolina Alligators Project is gathering sight observations of American alligators (Alligator mississippiensis) in the state to improve understanding of its geographic range and population status.

The NCWRC North Carolina Sea Turtle Project monitors sea turtle populations on our state’s beaches, a massive undertaking that relies heavily on volunteers like you to help find and guard nests, stranded and injured sea turtles.

The Box Turtle Connection trains volunteers to monitor populations of our state reptile, the Eastern Box Turtle (Terrapene carolina), throughout North Carolina.

Tracking Red-Eared Sliders and Gecko Watch are iNaturalist projects dedicated to tracking the spread of red-eared slider turtles (Trachemys scripta elegans) and the Mediterranean house gecko (Hemidactylus turcicus) outside of their native ranges. Both of these invasive species have become established in North Carolina. Help monitor these invasive species by reporting your observations.

The Orianne Society’s Snapshots in Time Project is a citizen science project that investigates the possible effects of climate change on the timing of breeding of spotted salamanders (Ambystoma maculatum) and wood frogs (Lithobates sylvaticus) throughout their ranges, including here in North Carolina.

Social Media

Join the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences Herpetology Unit’s Facebook Group to learn about happenings in the herpetology research collections at the museum.

The Carolina Herps Facebook Group “promotes the appreciation, understanding, and conservation of native reptiles and amphibians in the Carolinas.” This group serves as an excellent resource for photo identifications. 

The North Carolina Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake Conservation and Awareness Facebook Group is “dedicated to keeping data on NC eastern diamondback rattlesnakes, to conserve, protect, remaining populations through understanding land management and educating the public about NC’s most endangered reptile.”

The Box Turtle Connection Facebook Page reports on activities pertaining to conservation and population monitoring of our state reptile, the Eastern Box Turtle (Terrapene carolina), in North Carolina.

The Turtle Rescue Team Facebook Page reports on treatment and rehabilitation of injured and sick wild turtles (and other herp) in their program.

The Karen Beasley Sea Turtle Rescue & Rehabilitation Center Facebook Page reports on treatment and rehabilitation of injured and sick sea turtles at their center, as well as sea turtle conservation-related activities in North Carolina.

Books

The classic Reptiles of North Carolina (1995) written by our two Emeriti Curators of Herpetology, William M. Palmer and Alvin L. Braswell, remains the most comprehensive work on the reptile fauna of the state.

No enthusiast of the amphibians and reptiles of North Carolina could be without the essential field guide Amphibians and Reptiles of the Carolinas and Virginia, 2nd Edition (2010), authored by our Herpetology Unit Collection Manager Jeffrey C. Beane, Curator Emeriti Alvin L. Braswell and William M. Palmer, and colleagues Joseph C. Mitchell and Julian R. Harrison III.

Dr. Michael E. Dorcas’ guides The Frogs and Toads of North Carolina: Field Guide and Recorded Calls (2007) and A Guide to the Snakes of North Carolina (2005) provide expanded coverage of these components of the state’s herpetofauna.

Is it venomous? Learn more about our six fascinating, venomous snake species in this 2003 guide to the Venomous Snakes of North Carolinaauthored by Emeriti Curators of Herpetology Alvin L. Braswell and William M. Palmer, and Herpetology Unit Collection Manager Jeffrey C. Beane.

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