There are many great internship opportunities for those interested in a career as a herpetologist, zoo keeper, or wildlife rehabilitator. (Additional internship opportunities with reptiles may be found on the zoo internship or wildlife rehabilitation internship listings on this site).
Here is a sampling of what is available for those interesting in completing an internship focused on reptile care:
The Kentucky Reptile Zoo internship program offers interns the chance to work with many different kinds of reptiles during 3 month sessions. Students will learn animal handling techniques, give educational speeches, and conduct research (no direct handling of venomous species is permitted for interns). College students may receive academic credit and a small weekly stipend is offered. The Reptile Zoo boasts that its interns have a greater than 95% success rate for finding professional positions after completion of this highly competitive program.
Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey
The Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey accepts summer interns for its Great Bay Terrapin Project each year. Interns are involved with a wide variety of duties which include collecting data on terrapins, giving educational presentations to the public, participating in road patrols, and conducting their own independent terrapin research projects. A 35-hour work week is required, with weekend and holiday hours being necessary during peak breeding season. A $1,500 stipend is offered.
Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute
The Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute (in Virginia) offers a 3-month field and laboratory internship centered on herpetology research, husbandry, and conservation. Interns in the program are tasked with providing general animal care, collecting samples from live animals, testing samples for disease in a lab setting, and assisting with wood turtle surveys and other population tracking. Candidates must have completed at least two years of undergraduate studies and commit to the program for a 3 month period.
No stipend is offered.
The National Aquarium (in Baltimore, Maryland) offers a herpetology internship program. Interns are involved with recording observations of animals, maintaining habitats, preparing and distributing food, observing medical procedures, and completing other duties as assigned. Internships are a minimum of 120 hours in length and are to be completed during the fall, spring, or summer sessions. Candidates must be pursuing a degree in biology, animal behavior, or a closely related area.
Mystic Aquarium (in Connecticut) offers a reptile and amphibian husbandry internship which allows students to participate in feeding, habitat maintenance, specimen collection, and completing an independent research project. Interns must either be currently enrolled in college or a recent graduate, and college credit may be available if the student arranges it with their school. Internships last for a full semester (spring, summer, or fall) with approximately 38.75 hours required per week. No stipend is available.
Colorado Reptile Humane Society
The Colorado Reptile Humane Society offers an internship program that affords students the opportunity to assist with a radio tracking program focused on monitoring the movements of native box turtles, taking measurements and collecting other data from wild turtles, and providing basic care and first aid for a wide variety of reptile and amphibian species. Internships are 8 weeks in length, with at least 30 hours required per week. A $500 stipend is provided for incidental expenses but costs for housing and transportation are the intern’s responsibility.
The center can recommend low cost housing options in the area for those planning to attend this internship.
Reptilia Reptile Zoo
Reptilia Reptile Zoo (in Toronto, Canada) offers an internship for college students and recent graduates. Interns in the Reptilia program are involved with general animal care, treatment of injuries, feeding, giving educational speeches and tours, and participating in ongoing research projects. Internships range from 4 months to 1 year, with 38 hour work weeks required. Stipend information was not available on the Reptilia website.
The Toledo Zoo (in Ohio) offers a herpetology curatorial internship for college juniors and seniors. Responsibilities include animal care, general office work, research assistance, and assisting zoo keepers with exhibit maintenance as needed. The minimum commitment is 15 hours per week during spring, summer, and fall sessions. All intern positions are unpaid.
Networking with college professors and industry professionals can open up many additional (often unadvertised) internship opportunities, so be sure to take advantage of any contacts you might have available. Also be sure to check with your local zoo, wildlife rehabilitation centers, and exotic veterinary clinics to see if they might have a position available that would involve working with reptiles.
Remember, there is no substitute for hands-on experience when seeking entry to an animal related field, so take advantage of internship opportunities while completing your degree!