Lachesis muta, Bushmaster (Photo by Matt Cage)

Herpetology Exploration of the Madre Selva Biological Station & Santa Cruz Forest Reserves

For upcoming dates and details on trips, please visit the EXPEDITION CALENDAR page

The amphibians and reptiles of the Amazon range from the stunningly ugly to the bizarrely beautiful. And there are lots of them!  Our ten day expeditions routinely turn up more than 100 species of frogs, toads, caecilians, salamanders, lizards, snakes, turtles and crocodilians. A two week expedition can top 140 species! Some species we encounter almost every trip while others are so rarely encountered that even jaded "veteran" herpers get excited. Of course, there is no such thing as "jaded" when it comes to these fascinating and diverse animals!

Our expeditions are land based at field stations operated by Project Amazonas. Having "home base" on dry ground allows us to explore the rainforest by day and night at any time. We also always have an open skiff for exploring aquatic habitats (again, by both day and night). Our use of the field stations helps fund and protect these special sites, and we are also adding substantially to knowledge of the herpetofauna of the region. 

Each field site has its own specialties. Madre Selva Biological Station is excellent for a large number of hylid frogs that favor aquatic emergent vegetation. Atelopus spumarius, the Amazon harlequin toad is fairly commonly found, and with some effort, a floodplain lake with a population of black caimans (one of three species of caiman on the preserve) can be sometimes accessed by kayak or dugout canoe. Santa Cruz Forest Reserve has been the site of Peru country records for several frogs and caecilians, and it has also become the "go-to" place for finding the legendary Lachesis muta, the
South American bushmaster. More recently (Dec 2015, Jan 2016), two Corallus batesii, the incredible emerald tree boa were found.  Many professional herpetologists who have spent thousands of hours in the field have yet to encounter one of these. To take advantage of the specialties of each site, most of our expeditions split time between the two locations.

For a sampling of the amazing diversity of herpetofauna that can be encountered, enjoy the photos below!  All were taken on site in the Peruvian Amazon. There are no zoo or doctored photos (well, perhaps one...). 

For videos by Dāv Kaufman from the Jan 2017 herp trip with Matt Cage and Mike Pingleton, visit