Reptile revelry to celebrate new Nebraska Field Guide |

Reptile revelry to celebrate new Nebraska Field Guide

LINCOLN, Neb. – Fans of frogs, lovers of lizards and seekers of serpents now have a valuable new resource in “A Field Guide to the Amphibians and Reptiles of Nebraska.”

A book launch, the Reptile Revelry Reception, is scheduled Tuesday, June 29, 4-6 p.m. at Hardin Hall, 33rd and Holdrege. It will include a live animal display, door prizes and refreshments; parking is free.

Herpetologist Daniel D. Fogell, a doctoral student at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s School of Natural Resources, has written a major update of the previous guide issued in 1942. This much improved version include’s Fogell’s photographs of these slithery creatures. Since the original guide was issued, several new species of amphibians and reptiles have been found in the state, or have had significant shifts in the geographic distributions. All records in the guide are based on voucher specimens in museums.

“Every kid who ever wants to explore the natural areas in his or her neighborhood needs a field guide,” Fogell said. “Nebraska was lacking a field guide to amphibians and reptiles. Now we have one.”

Because it fits in a back pocket, the guide is ideal for use in the wild. It features two pages on each of the 62 species of amphibians or reptiles that live in Nebraska. A page of text includes a description, natural history, the habitat and distribution of the species. A facing page of photos helps visually identify species and locate the counties in the state where a species is found. There is a key that will help observers figure out what species they have and illustrations show types and patterns of scales that can assist in their search for the identity. It also includes the legal status of each species, a glossary, and a map of the habitats found across the state. A “life list” at the end will aid observers who would like to ensure that they have laid eyes on each species of snake, lizard, frog, toad, salamander and turtle in Nebraska.

The School of Natural Resources, the publisher of the guide, is donating a library copy to every county in the state.

“I want every kid, student, naturalist, biologist and nature center to have a copy of this book so that they can positively identify any amphibian and reptile they encounter,” Fogell said. “The maps will help them determine whether the sighting is expected, or if it is a new locality for the species. And once a new locality is discovered, my hope is that someone will send me a photograph, so we can better understand distributions. Given the changing climate and land uses, it is very important to know where the animals are now and what kinds of changes they can tolerate.”

This informal corps of citizen scientists could greatly expand the knowledge of exactly where things are and how they are changing. “Over the past few decades, there has been much research done in only a few regions of Nebraska,” Fogell said. “There are many other regions that have been ignored.”

Fogell teaches biology and related subjects at Southeast Community College in Lincoln. Editorial and financial support for printing and publishing the book came from the Conservation and Survey Division at SNR, the Nebraska Herpetological Society, the Nebraska Reptile Breeders Expo, the Center for North American Herpetology, and the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission.

To send photos, stories or questions, please send email to

The guide is available for $17.99 from Nebraska Maps and More on the first floor of Hardin Hall at 33rd and Holdrege, online at and, and from other regional booksellers.

To place an order over the phone, please call (402) 472-3471. Nebraska Maps and More will also donate a copy to a public library in each county in Nebraska.

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