Saturday, 27 February 2016


The latest trend of #HERpers on Twitter has gotten me thinking about herpetology. For the last 4 years I have been working with seabirds however for many many years reptiles, amphibians and fish were all I could think about.

Growing up I worked in a reptile specialist pet shop- before reptiles became popular pets in the UK. I was very fortunate to work with a wide range of herps (and other animals!) from lizards, snakes, frogs and salamanders. At college I undertook work experience placements at zoological facilities around Scotland and it was during this time I fed my first crocodile- this was definitely the career for me!
Chameleon climbing over me like a tree (photo Jade Mitchell)
Common boa's are stunning animals! (photo Jade Mitchell)
I've always been keen on amphibians! Tiger Salamander by Ryan Mutch

I've had the pleasure of working with a wide range of taxa. Horsefield Tortoise, Bearded Dragon and Red Eyed Green Tree Frog (photos by Laura Shearer)
Looking at universities I explained my herpetological interests however this was often met by confused looks or general disinterest. "Your in the wrong country for that dear" "Why would you want to work with snakes?" - actual quotes from university lecturers! Fortunately at an open day for Edinburgh Napier University I got chatting to a professor who explained that many modules would allow me to research and express my interests in herps. The university was very supportive and when studying my masters at the same institution I decided to study the aquatic and terrestrial habitat requirements of native amphibians. Turns out- I wasn't in the wrong country to work with herps after all!
Analysing pond quality for native amphibians (photo Jennifer Allan)
Male Smooth Newt (photo Laura Shearer)
I currently volunteer with the Lothian Amphibian and Reptile Group (@LothianARG) assisting with toad patrols, pond maintenance and pond surveys. At home I have a Carpet Python (aka Steve the snake), a Whites tree frog (George), Paddle tailed newt (Ned) and Tiger Salamander (Bert). Herpetology is a huge part of my life (and electricity bill) and I would thoroughly encourage young women to pursue this as a career- don't let anyone stand in your way!
My favourite herp is my pet Carpet Python Steve! (photo Laura Shearer)

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