Education and Research Projects

Professor Dennis Ferraro is involved, both directly and as supervisor, of numerous projects related to herptofauna (amphibians, snakes, and turtles) at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln. Students involved in these programs not only gain important real-world skills in animal handling and research, but also help expand our knowledge base of this important and threatened group of animal species.

These projects fall under 3 main categories:

  • Awareness and Appreciation of Nebraska's Herptofauna (frogs, lizards, salamanders, snakes, and turtles),
  • Natural History and Conservation of Nebraska's Herptofauna, and
  • Husbandry of Herptofauna

Awareness and Appreciation of Nebraska's Herptofauna

Programs under this heading seek to inform the public about Nebraska's amphibians, snakes, and turtles to increase familiarity and understanding of these species while reduce unnecessary apprehension.

Natural History and Conservation of Nebraska's Herptofauna

Many species of Nebraska's herptofauna are under stress due to habitat loss or changes in environmental conditions. Projects in this heading document the behavior, range, and needs of Nebraska's herptofauna so that future generations can enjoy their presence.

Husbandry of Herptofauna

The specific and unique needs of herptofauna (amphibians, snakes, and turtles) make raising them in captivity difficult. To improve the care of captive animals, Professor Ferraro is actively involved in research to answer questions about caring for herpetofauna.

Video: "What's for Dinner? Feeding Live Prey to Snakes, Turtles, & Lizards" Caution: Some viewers may find certain scenes disturbing.


To inquire about availability or to ask further questions about our presentations, e-mail us at

Dennis Ferraro (left) continuing his research on prairie rattlesnakes.
Dennis Ferraro handling a Prairie rattlesnake.

Dennis Ferraro teaching students to appreciate snakes.
Dennis Ferraro speaking to children about Nebraska's herpetofauna.

Dennis Ferraro (left) and other UNL personnel treating an ill snake.
Dennis Ferraro (left) with UNL staff performing surgery on a sick snake.

A snake undergoing an MRI
A snake suffering from a cancerous tumor is undergoing an MRI. It is believed that this is the first time an MRI has been used on a snake.