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Word of the Week: Herpetology

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Welcome to Word of the Week! Stay tuned for a new word each week to amp up your nature vocabulary!

The word of the week is herpetology [her-pe-tol-o-gy] (noun): the branch of zoology dealing with the study of reptiles and amphibians.

Much like ornithology is the study of birds, herpetology is a term among the long list of ologys that define the study of reptiles and amphibians.

The term is dervied from the Greek word “herpetón” which means “creeping animal.” Non-avian reptiles and amphiabians used to once be grouped under the same class and called herptiles. Reptiles and amphibians together are also referred to as herpetofauna or “herp” for short. Other derivatives include “herpetoculture” which refers to the captive care and breeding of reptiles and amphiabians.

Forests, wet meadows, spring pools and marshes are common ecosystems that house herpetofauna. While much of this type of habitat has been lost or made less suitable in Toronto, High Park’s wetland and forests still support a number of species of herps.

High Park’s herp population includes frogs, toads, turtles, snakes and one species of salamander:

  • Salamanders:
    • Northern Redback Salamander
  • Frogs and Toads:
    • American Toad
    • Northern Leopard Frog
    • Green Frog
  • Snakes:
    • Eastern Garter Snake
    • Little Brown Snake
  • Turtles
    • Snapping Turtle
    • Midland Painted Turtle
    • Red-eared Slider

More resources:

Wish to learn more about the herpetofauna of High Park? Consider joining us for our Amazing Animal Adaptations nature walk on Saturday, July 16 from 10-11:30AM.