Science Word Wednesday: Herpetology

Nov 04, 2020
By Sarah Lowe


(Noun./ her-peh-TOLLO-jee/)

What does it mean?

Zoology is the scientific study of animals. Herpetology is a branch of zoology that studies any type of reptile or amphibian, like lizards and frogs.

How do I use it in a sentence? 

Siblings go to the pond every day after school to observe the frogs that live there. When they grow up, the siblings want to study these frogs to understand their life and habits. Therefore, the siblings want to be herpetologists and study zoology under the branch of herpetology.

Image: Johnathan David (the guy not the toad), a reptile hobbyist, wildlife biologist, and Editor in Chief of the “Everything Reptiles” blog.

Etymology: The term is derived from Greek: herpeton, meaning “reptile,” which comes from herpein, meaning “to creep.” 

Related terms:

Zoology: The study of animals

Reptile: Cold-blooded, vertebrate animals with scales or bony plates, such as turtles, lizards, snakes, and crocodiles

Amphibian: Cold-blooded, vertebrate animals that don’t have scales and live part of their lives in the water, like salamanders, frogs, and toads

Batrachology: The study of amphibians (a subfield of herpetology)

Edited by Anna Wheless and Emma Goldberg