Amphibians & Reptiles - Loans and Collection Visits

Please note: Loans and Visit requests received between 07/23/2024 and 09/16/2024 to Amphibians and Reptiles collections will be reviewed after 09/18/2024 due to staff travels.

For all queries about Amphibian and Reptile Collections (loans, visits, holdings information) please email

For any other queries, please contact the Collections Manager Chun (Rachunliu) Kamei.

Prior to making any requests for loans and visits we strongly recommend that you
consult our collection database and also review our collections policy below to ensure your requests comply as this will help expedite your requests.

In making any request to visit the collection, please include a letter (pdf preferred) on institutional letterhead that states your current position, a description of the project and reason for the visit, and the specimens you would like to examine, similar to the loan policy stated below.

Specimen Loan Policy

Prior to requesting a loan, the collection database or VertNet can be consulted for holdings information. More detailed data inquiries can be directed to the Collections Manager Chun (Rachunliu) Kamei.

Specimen loan requests must be submitted on institutional letterhead. E-mail, telephone or fax loan requests are not acceptable. However, discussion via e-mail of a loan request prior to the submission of the formal request letter is encouraged. Discussion of the loan via e-mail after the borrower has received it is likewise encouraged.

Invasive procedures or alteration of the state of a specimen (clearing and staining, etc.) are strictly prohibited unless prior permission has been obtained. However, please feel free to approach us about the need for invasive and other procedures.

The loan request must outline the scope of the project, the specimens desired, how the specimens will be used, any invasive techniques or changes in the state of specimens and availability of proper storage conditions (proper containers, availability of 70% ethanol for wet specimen storage (storage in isopropyl alcohol is prohibited), availability of pest-proof storage for skeletons and dry skins and a dark, climate controlled, storage environment).

Loans are made only to permanent staff members of institutions. Loan requests from students and postdoctoral fellows must be cosigned by the major professor, advisor or curator who takes responsibility for the proper storage and timely return of the specimens and any "byproduct" such as histological slides, skeletal preparations, stomach contents, etc. Any “byproduct” must be carefully tagged, labeled or otherwise positively numbered with the FMNH number of the specimen it was removed from. Harvesting of tissue samples from specimens is strictly prohibited without permission.

Loaned material cannot be transferred to another institution without permission.

Loans are made for a period of one year. Loan extensions are possible and may be requested via e-mail.

We try not to ship more than one-half of the total number of specimens of a species at one time or in one package. When possible, we try to split the shipment of such loans into two or more packages. If a shipment is sent in two or more shipping packages, the borrower must return the specimens in the same manner. We also reserve the right to limit to one-half the number of specimens sent from a single locality in a single loan.

After the return of the first part of a multi-part loan, the borrower MUST request in writing (e-mail acceptable) any specimens not sent in response to the initial loan request.

In cases where shipping could put unique specimens in jeopardy, we may be able provide scans or digital photos.

Upon receiving a loan, the borrower must immediately sign and return the confirmation copy of the loan invoice to acknowledge safe receipt of specimens. A short email noting the receipt of specimens is appreciated. Specimen returns must be packed in the same way they were received and returned by same method in which they were shipped.

The return of foreign loan shipments require special package marking procedures that are outlined in instructions accompanying the loan.

Any taxonomic re-identifications or type designations should be communicated at the time the loan is returned or earlier.

Manuscript type names will not be assigned in our electronic collection catalog or website until publication of the name.

Please acknowledge the Field Museum in publications or web documents in which Field Museum specimens are used. Kindly report the title and other pertinent information of any publication that results from the use of our specimens. We would also appreciate receiving a hard copy or pdf of a reprint for the Karl P. Schmidt Memorial Herpetological Library.

Tissue/Extract Request Policy

The Amphibian and Reptile Collections at The Field Museum maintains a tissue and DNA extract collection. Samples are typically associated with vouchers in our collection or in other collections. Samples are either frozen or fluid-preserved. We have, in part, followed the tissue grant guidelines formulated by the Museum of Vertebrate Zoology at the University of California, Berkeley and the American Society of Mammalogists. We thank them for their pioneering efforts.

We provide DNA extracts and tissue samples to qualified researchers for the express purpose of supplementing material from other collections, wild populations and captives. We reserve the right to supply the tissue type (liver, muscle, etc.) of our choice.  We may not loan tissues of CITES-listed or U.S endangered and threatened species to non-US institutions.

Tissues are sent in 95% ethanol or buffer unless special arrangements are made. Requests for shipments in dry ice are discouraged.

We absorb the costs of obtaining, processing and maintaining tissues and extracts. Outbound shipping costs of tissues are normally paid by The Field Museum.

Researchers may request samples of skin, muscle or bone from traditional specimens for analysis. They must justify the need and propose the least harmful method for destructive sampling. Proof of successful analysis of such material may be requested.

Procedure to request samples:

  1. Users must follow our requirements regarding provision of information.
  2. Requests must be written on institutional letterhead and sent by mail.
  3. Student requests must be co-signed by a faculty advisor.
  4. Requests must contain:
    1. A brief project outline stating the project objectives.
    2. A statement on efforts made to secure samples from other collections, wild populations or captives.
    3. A confirmation of the availability of funding to complete project.
    4. Number of samples needed per taxon or locality.
    5. Type of sample needed (DNA extract or tissue).
    6. Justification for tissue versus extract request or destructive sampling (if applicable).
    7. Amount of material needed per sample.
    8. A statement outlining the techniques to be used.

Review criteria for requests:

  1. Type and extent of request.
  2. Use of standardized techniques that assure stability and allow future use of the extracts.
  3. Availability of material from other collections, wild populations or captives and efforts to obtain such material.
  4. Amount of material in the FMNH collection.
  5. Rarity, rate of demand, and potential for future sampling of the taxon.
  6. Financial support for the project

Loan conditions:

  1. Tissues or extracts must not be transferred to a third party without permission from The Field Museum.
  2. The Field Museum acronym and specimen number must identify FMNH-supplied material during all stages of lab work.
  3. The FMNH number including acronym must accompany sequences entered into genetic data banks.
  4. The cooperation of Amphibians and Reptiles at The Field Museum should be acknowledged in any publication resulting from materials loaned.
  5. Users must return two reprints of any publications resulting from the study. We may request exchanges of vouchered tissues. Such tissues should be well labeled and accompanied by complete collection data, institution acronym and catalog number and copies of relevant collecting permits or other documentation.