Photo: Charissa Soriano/Burke Museum
Photo: Charissa Soriano/Burke Museum

Herpetology at the Burke Museum

The Herpetology Collection contains approximately 10,000 specimens of amphibians and reptiles from around the world. The collection is particularly strong in amphibians and garter snakes from the Pacific Northwest of the United States. The collection contains mostly alcohol preserved specimens and a modest number of skeletons, skins and photographs.

Almost 4,500 specimens are amphibians from Western Washington obtained during wildlife studies from the 1950s to the early 2000s. Over 800 of the 1200 garter snake specimens came from collections made by UW Zoology professor William Hebard in the mid-1900s.

Recent student research programs from Puerto Rico, Mexico, Ghana, and the southwestern U.S. have added significantly to the collection. Ongoing contributions from the nearby Woodland Park Zoo are making important additions to the diversity of species in the collection. 

Search the Collection

Herpetology collections are accessible through the Arctos website. To search Burke specimens only, select “Amphibian and reptile specimens” under “Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture (UWBM)” in the drop-down menu for Collection.

Herpetology Database

a team of researchers prep and study specimens from their tent in Ghana
Photo: Courtesy of Adam Leaché/Burke Museum
Photo: Courtesy of Adam Leaché/Burke Museum

Our Research

Herpetology research is conducted in the Leaché Lab, located in the Burke Museum and the UW Department of Biology.

The lab, led by Burke Museum Herpetology Curator Adam Leaché, includes undergraduates, graduate students, postdoctoral researchers, and visiting scientists. The primary topics of research include evolutionary biology, systematics, phylogenetics, species delimitation, and comparative biology.

Leaché Lab

Washington State

Amphibians & Reptiles

frog sitting on green leaf

Amphibians found in Washington state

lizard sunning itself of a rock

Lizard species found in Washington state

a garter snake coiled and sitting on a fallen log

Snake species found in Washington state

turtle sunning on a log in the water

Turtle species found in Washington state

Questions & Answers

We’ve pulled together some common questions and answers related to the Burke Museum Herpetology Collection. Do you have question that isn’t answered in the list below? Contact us.

Our loan policy makes any and all parts of the collection available to qualified investigators and their students in the U.S. and abroad. We lend, donate and exchange material freely. Each request, however, is reviewed to determine if the potential borrower is likely to take proper care of the material and if the material itself is in a condition to withstand shipment. We do not loan more than half of our holdings of a species at one time, so researchers may have to arrange sequential loans.

Loans are invoiced with catalog numbers, species names, data and period of the loan (one year with the option to then extend the loan period). The costs of processing and shipping specimens on loan are covered by the Herpetology Collection, with the expectation that loans will be returned at the borrower's expense. 

Individuals interested in obtaining specimens on loan should first search our database* in order to identify potentially interesting specimens, and should then contact us.

*Resource: To search Burke specimens in the Arctos database, select “Amphibian and reptile specimens” under “Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture (UWBM)” in the drop-down menu for Collection.

Researchers are welcome to visit the collection, and the Herpetology Collection offers a variety of tours to the public and university community. We can tailor the length and content of a tour to accommodate most interests and age groups. Arrangements should be made at least two weeks in advance.

For researchers, we have bench space and dissecting microscopes available for use. Please contact us for questions or to schedule a visit.

Did you encounter an interesting or unusual amphibian or reptile that you wish to have identified? Please submit a photo for identification using the Object Identification Request Form. We would love to help!

Please contact us if you’d like to donate specimens to the collection. We will gladly accept specimens of scientific value that were collected or acquired legally by the donor. 

We couldn’t do what we do without volunteers! Visit our Volunteer page for more information about Burke Museum volunteer opportunities and to view current openings.

Our Team & Contact

Meet the people within the Burke Museum Herpetology team.

Our Team

Have a general inquiry?

Contact Us

Photo: Jared Grummer
Photo: Jared Grummer
a young man wears a hat and holds a lizard in the desert

Support Herpetology

Your gift makes it possible! We couldn't do what we do without generous donor support for collections care, research and public outreach. 

Photo: Matt McElroy
Photo: Matt McElroy