Loans will take at least a month to process after approval is granted. Please plan accordingly with your request.
Loans of all herpetological specimens require a formal request (cover letter on institutional letterhead and a completed Specimen Loan Request Form). The request should include sufficient information about the research project and the intended use of the specimens so that an evaluation of the request can be made by the curatorial staff in the Division of Amphibians and Reptiles.
Graphic files (jpg, pdf) of the signed letterhead request and Specimen Loan Request form may be sent as an e-mail attachment. Requests are reviewed by the curators or the collection managers.
Requests should include the following:
A brief description of the research or educational project that includes purpose, techniques to be used (especially if destructive methods are requested), and expected significance of the work.
A list of material requested including specific taxa, number of individuals, catalog numbers and/or localities (if relevant).
Shipping instructions must include detailed instructions including an appropriate address (a street address is necessary for shipping through a private carrier) and contact phone number.
Requestors must acknowledge that they agree to the conditions listed under Loan Terms.
Researchers may freely use data (including geographic coordinates, specific collecting locality, date of collection, collector, etc.) associated with a specimen during their investigation and in resulting publications. Incorporation of all or a substantial portion of the specimen data into any publicly available data base (e.g., compact disc, web site) is not permitted without written authorization from the Division of Amphibians and Reptiles, National Museum of Natural History. We request that investigators using USNM specimens and associated data bring to our attention any questionable localities, misidentifications, or other presumed errors so that we can amend our collection records.
Loans may not be transferred from the borrower to another individual without prior written permission from the Division of Amphibians and Reptiles. Similarly, specimens may not be transported to a different address without previous approval.
The Division of Amphibians and Reptiles uses the abbreviation USNM as the approved abbreviation for referencing specimens at the National Museum of Natural History. The Division of Amphibians and Reptiles, National Museum of Natural History, will be explicitly acknowledged in each publication that is based in part or entirely on data derived from USNM specimens.
We request reprints (or digital copies) of each paper, or one copy of any book, that results from research on USNM specimens.
All borrowers must agree to abide by this loan policy.
Scientific merit and feasibility of the project
Rarity of the species and representation in our collections
Condition of the specimen(s)
Qualifications of the investigators
Status of outstanding loans
Previous loan history
Type specimens may be lent at the discretion of the curators. In general, types are lent only when required for resolution of nomenclatural problems and for no more than two-months. An on-going project in the Division aims to generate high quality photographs of all primary type materials. These photographs are available via the on-line database.
Usually, no more than one-half of our total specimens for a species will be lent at a time. The remaining specimens may be requested after return of the first loan.
Due to shipping, customs, and CITES regulations, we may not be able to approve some international loan requests even when they meet the necessary criteria.
All fluid specimens should be stored in the appropriate fluid as stated on the loan documents included in the shipment and kept out of direct light. Specimens stored in ethanol should only be stored in 70% non-denatured ethanol. Wet specimens are to be kept moist with 70% ethanol at all times during examination.
Dry specimens are to be stored in pest-free conditions.
Specimen examination should be done with care to avoid damage. Please do not force limbs, jaws, etc. into positions that tear muscles or break bones.
Specimens may not be altered in any way (including dissections for sex determination and removing tags/labels) without explicit written permission from the Division of Amphibians and Reptiles.
Guidance on dissection of specimens for approved destructive analysis requests is available.
Any product resulting from an approved alteration (e.g., stomach contents, skeletal preparation, cleared and stained preparation, hemipenial preparation, SEM stub, histological slide, etc.) are regarded as part of the specimen and must be returned to the USNM with appropriate labels and documentation, including the date of the alteration and the USNM catalog number.
Extensions of loans should be requested in a letter or an e-mail message before the loan’s due date.
Loan return packages should be returned via courier service such as FedEx or UPS (not the government postal system) to the following address:
Division of Amphibians & Reptiles
Museum Support Center
4210 Silver Hill Road
Suitland, MD 20746