Natural History Museum Of Zimbabwe

Herpetology

Herpetology – Is the study of amphibians and reptiles and is derived from the Greek “herpein” meaning to creep.

Herpetology
Pythons, Cobras, Boomslangs and other snakes from Southern Africa
Shiela Broadley
Shiela Broadley

The department of Herpetology was established in 1956, following the appointment of Donald G. Broadley (see Past Curators) as Honorary Curator of Herpetology when the national collections consisted of less than 1000 specimens.

 Extensive field work in Zimbabwe, Botswana, Malawi and Mozambique built up the collections. At present these collections hold close to 52 000 specimens, which include 95 primary types and 966 paratypes.  It is the second largest collection of African Herpetofauna after the Transvaal Museum in South Africa although it is more comprehensive in scope and covers most of the Zambesiaca region. 

Acanthocercus Atricollis
Acanthocercus Atricollis

Most of the collections are stored in 70% alcohol except the large snakes and lizards which are in 5% formalin. There is also a small collection of tanned skinned which include crocodile skins, python skins and stuffed rock and water monitors, as well a small collection of skeletal material mainly of tortoise shells, a number of lizards, snakes, turtles and crocodiles.

Researchers from different parts of the world can use the collection. Loans can be requested by museum staff or those affiliated to museums and for a period of six months.  

The late Dr Broadley took meristic and morphometric data all specimens in good condition in the museum collection as well as from specimens from other institutions either during visits or while the specimens were on loan. The data sheets are available upon request.

With the evident global warming, destruction and fragmentation of habitats, more studies on the biodiversity of the herpetofauna coupled with habitat changes especially for the engendered species, such as those of the Eastern Highlands – a known “hotspot” –  is the focus of the future.  Molecular studies where possible will also be done.

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258 reviews on
David Reason
David Reason
26/01/2021
This is a fabulous treasure for Zimbabwe with around 7 separate galleries of very well presented exhibits such as geology, entomology, herpetology, African mammals, colonial history, local African tribes, astronomy, humankind and mycology (fungi). It also houses hundreds of thousands of specimens in around 10 Collections, including arachnids, Lepidoptera (butterflies and moths), birds, snakes, plants and fungi - these Collections can be seen but by appointment only. The museum staff are pleasant and knowledgeable. There is an onsite café to pick up a snack or two and a public library of really interesting natural history books. There is also good info on the two World Heritage sites managed by the museum, these being the Matobo World View site and the Khami Ruins which are also magical places to go and visit!
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Angel Bert
Angel Bert
05/12/2020
It was lovely experience
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Fritz Madida
Fritz Madida
03/12/2020
Most fascinating collection of historical artefacrs
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CLIVE SIBANDA J
CLIVE SIBANDA J
26/11/2020
Thank you for the important information
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Thabo Pricel
Thabo Pricel
22/11/2020
Amaze balls
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Nkosinathi Mdudo
Nkosinathi Mdudo
07/11/2020
Such an amazing experience
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