Browse the Herpetological Collections

Our collection of amphibians and reptiles is one of the ten largest in the world, containing more than 300,000 catalogued specimens from 166 countries. Important holdings include those from the western United States and Mexico, Southwest and Southeast Asia, Oceania, and northern, southern, and eastern Africa.


Collection Statistics

As of March 2011, 300,761 specimens have been cataloged in the Department of Herpetology. The collection is comprised of the California Academy of Sciences (CAS) collection (247,465 specimens) and the Stanford University (CAS-SU) collection (53,296 specimens).

History of Computerization in the Department of Herpetology

The computerization of the Department of Herpetology's specimen-associated data began in October 1986 with a grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF).

Database Overview and Instructions


This site provides access to specimen-associated data housed in the Department of Herpetology, California Academy of Sciences. These data are copyrighted by the California Academy of Sciences, © 2011.

The herpetology collection catalog currently contains records for 300,761 specimens. The collection is comprised of the California Academy of Sciences (CAS) collection (247,465 specimens) and the Stanford University collection (CAS-SU) (53,296 specimens). The SU specimens are still tagged with their original SU numbers. Amphibians and reptiles were cataloged together in the CAS collection and separately in the SU collection. Therefore, the collection contains triplicate numbers for the first 24,299 catalog numbers and duplicate numbers for catalog numbers between 24,300 and 28,999. To search for a particular specimen use the catalog number in combination with the correct acronym.

Loan Policy

Our policy allows loans to be made to institutions via a member of the staff of that institution for a period of six months subject to renewal. Factors limiting loans are: (1) failure to return previous material when requested, providing reasonable sufficient time has elapsed for study of the materials; (2) improper handling of specimens resulting in excessive and unreasonable damage exceeding the demands of the investigation, removal of catalog-tags, or other procedures that could adversely affect the documentation of the specimen; (3) improper procedures in packaging and returning the material; and (4) a request for an excessive number of specimens, either not justified by the nature of the investigation or which is simply beyond the ability of the Academy's staff to meet.

For more information regarding loans please write or call any of the curators or the collections manager.

Terms of Use

These databases and all images within them are owned and copyrighted by the California Academy of Sciences, ©2011, or licensed to it.  The data and images may be used freely by individuals and organizations for purposes of basic research, education and conservation.  These data and images may not be used for commercial or for-profit purposes without the express written consent of the California Academy of Sciences, and may not be repackaged, resold, or redistributed in any form.


Use of the data or images in publications, dissertations and theses, or other scientific reports, should be accompanied by an acknowledgement of the Department of Herpetology, California Academy of Sciences, as the source for the information.  Please provide the Department with separates of articles resulting from the use of these data or images.  This helps us to document the use of specimens as “vouchers” in the literature.  It also helps us to justify continued funding for the collections so that these resources remain available into the future.

Contact the Collections Manager

For inquiries please contact:

  • Jens V. Vindum
  • Senior Collections Manager
  • California Academy of Sciences
  • 55 Music Concourse Drive
  • San Francisco, CA 94118
  • 415-379-5292 (direct)


natural history collection

The Importance of Natural History Collections


Front Cover Hearst Publication

CAS Special Publication: The Coral Triangle - The 2011 Hearst Philippine Biodiversity Expedition


The old saying “You are what you eat” takes on new significance in the most comprehensive analysis to date of early human teeth from Africa.

Our ancestors used to dine almost exclusively on leaves and fruits from trees, shrubs and herbs until 3.5mya when a major shift occurred, according to four new simultaneously published studies.

A series of 4 scientific papers shows evidence of an expanding variety of plant foods, written into the enamel of fossil teeth.