They are among the stuff of nightmares for many people, but to others are fascinating wonders of nature.
Unity College students who possess an interest in reptiles and amphibians have banded together to start a herpetology club. The club is the idea of Jonah Gula ’15, a San Diego native majoring in Wildlife Biology.
“I’ve always been fascinated by ‘herps’ (reptiles and amphibians),” said Gula. “I was pleased to discover that I am just one of many with an interest in herpetology.”
Gula is not closing the door on pursuing a career as a herpetologist. For now his studies cover a broad sweep of wildlife. During the spring semester of 2012, Gula petitioned the College to form a herpetology club. The club was approved and began recruiting members at the beginning of the 2012-13 academic year. It now includes 50 members who have begun recruiting herpetology experts to visit campus, and are organizing the lab specimen collection.
Members of the club are joined together by a fascination with ‘herps’ and an interest in keeping them. At the present time Unity College owns several species of non-venomous snakes and frogs, with plans to expand the live animal collection in the near future. College policy does not allow students who live on campus to keep ‘herps.’
In the spring the club will be starting an on campus amphibian survey for the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife Service program entitled Maine Amphibian and Reptile Atlasing Project (MARAP).
Club members also are advocating for a herpetology course, which Gula says is likely to be offered in the next few years.
As a ‘herp’ enthusiast Gula hopes to change false assumptions about these animals and raise awareness about local species that are overlooked.
“There is a diversity of amphibians in the Unity area and they are often overlooked,” Gula said. “These animals are valuable to the ecosystem and they all play different roles as predators and prey.”
Unity College is a private college in rural Maine that provides dedicated, engaged students with a liberal arts education that emphasizes the environment and natural resources. Unity College graduates are prepared to be environmental stewards, effective leaders, and responsible citizens through active learning experiences within a supportive community.