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Department of Vertebrate Zoology

Division of Amphibians & Reptiles

Phyllomedusa vaillantii
Phyllomedusa vaillantii Ecuador, Pastaza Province. Photographed by William W. Lamar
bar James B. Murphy
    James B. Murphy
    Research Associate

  • Phone: (202) 633-0728
  • Fax: (202) 633-0182
  • E-mail:

  • Mailing Address:
    Smithsonian Institution
    PO Box 37012, MRC 162
    Washington, DC 20013-7012

  • Shipping Address:
    Smithsonian Institution
    National Museum of Natural History
    10th & Constitution Ave NW
    Washington, DC 20560-0162


Related Links

Previous postdoctoral position at BYU


B.S., Xavier University, 1965
D. Sc., University of Colorado, 1989.

Research Interests

Ethological and reproductive studies on a variety of amphibians and reptiles, ophiophobia, zoo history and philosophy, social behavior of herpetologists, and husbandry, historical illustrations of herpetofauna.

Article about Murphy

Long, A. 2011. The rarest of the rare. The Washington Post Magazine, Aug. 21:16-23. [Reptile Discovery Center at NZP].

Selected Publications

Burghardt, G.M., Vladimir Dinets, and James B. Murphy. 2015. Highly repetitive object play in a cichlid fish (Tropheus duboisi). Ethology 120:1-7.

Murphy, J.B. 2014. Studies on venomous reptiles in zoos and aquariums: Part I—Introduction, rear-fanged colubrid snakes, elapids, sea kraits and seasnakes. Herpetol. Rev. 45:154-174.

Murphy, J.B. 2014. Studies on venomous reptiles in zoos and aquariums: Part II—True vipers, Fea’s Viper, Mole Vipers, pitvipers, venomous lizards, conclusion. Herpetol. Rev. 45:346-364.

Murphy, J.B. 2014. Studies on pythons, boas and anacondas, dwarf boas, and Round Island splitjaw snakes in zoos and aquariums. Herpetol. Rev. 45: 534-556.

Kian, Najmeh, Murphy, J.B. et al. 2013. Observations on the endangered Iranian Zanjan Viper, Montivipera albicornuta (Squamata: Viperidae), in captivity and in the wild. Herpetol. Rev. 44:86-89.

Terrell, Kimberly A., Richard P. Quintero, Suzan Murray, J.D. Kleopfer, James B. Murphy, Matthew J. Evans, Bradley D. Nissen, and Brian Gratwicke. 2013. Cryptic impacts of temperature variability on amphibian immune function. J. Exper. Biol. 216, no. 22:4204-4211.

Murphy, J.B. 2013. Deadly encounters by and to crocodilians depicted in historical illustrations and accounts. 2 Parts. Herpetol. Rev. 44:196-207, 44:375-393.

Kian, Najmeh, Murphy, James B., et al. 2011. Captive management and reproductive biology of Latifi’s Viper (Montivipera latifii) (Squamata: Viperidae) at Razi Institute and Tehran University in Iran. Herpetol. Rev. 42:535-539.

Murphy, J.B., and Ken McCloud. 2010. Evolution of keeping captive amphibians and reptiles. Herpetol. Rev. 41:134-142.

Murphy, J.B., and Ken McCloud. 2010. Reptile dealers and their price lists. Herpetol. Rev. 41:266-281.

Burghardt, Gordon M., James B. Murphy, David Chiszar, and Michael Hutchins. 2009. Combating ophiophobia: Origins, treatment, education, and conservation tools. In (S. J. Mullin and R.A. Seigel, eds.), Snakes: Ecology & Conservation. Cornell Univ. Press, Ithaca NY.

Heichler, Lucian, and James B. Murphy, J.B. 2007. Translation of “Aufgaben und Probleme bei der Erforshung der Lebensäusserungen der Niederen Amnioten (Reptilien)” [Tasks and Problems Encountered by Zoo Keepers in Research Concerning the Vital Manifestations of the Lower Amniotic Animals (Reptiles)] by Hans-Günter Petzold. SSAR Contributions to Herpetology. New Title: Petzold's “Lives of Captive Reptiles.”

Murphy, J.B., and William A. Xanten. 2007. Seventy five years of herpetology at the Smithsonian's National Zoological Park: The facilities, collection, people, and programs. Herpetol. Rev. 38:262-373.

Murphy, J.B. 2007. Herpetological History of the Zoo and Aquarium World. Krieger Publishing  Co., Malabar FL.

Murphy, J.B., and David E. Jacques. 2006. Grace Olive Wiley: zoo curator with safety issues. Herpetol. Rev. 36:365-367.

Murphy, J.B., and David E. Jacques. 2006. Death by snakebite: The entwined histories of Grace Olive Wiley and Wesley H. Dickinson. Chicago Herpetol. Soc. Special Suppl.

Murphy, J.B. 2006. Wild and ferocious reptiles in the Tower of London. Herpetol. Rev. 37:10-13.

Murphy, J.B., and Trooper Walsh. 2006. Dragons and humans. Herpetol. Rev. 37: 269-273.

Heyer, W. Ronald, and James B. Murphy. 2005. Declining Amphibian Population Task Force, pp. 17–21. In M. Lannoo (ed.), Amphibian Declines. The Conservation Status of United States Species. Univ. California Press, Berkeley and Los Angeles.

Murphy, J.B. 2005. Chameleons: Johann von Fischer and other perspectives. SSAR Herpetol. Circ. 33.

Ferguson, Gary W., Murphy, J.B., et al. 2004. The Panther Chameleon: Social Behavior, Natural History, Conservation and Captive Management. Krieger Publishing Co., Malabar FL.

Heichler, Lucian, and J. B. Murphy, J.B. 2004. Johann Matthäus Bechstein: The father of herpetoculture. Herpetol. Rev. 35:8-13.

Murphy, J.B., and Ghislaine Iliff. 2004. Count de Lacepède: Renaissance zoo man. Herpetol. Rev. 35:220-223.

Hutchins, Michael, James B. Murphy, and Neil Schlager (eds.). 2003. Grzimek's Animal Life Encyclopedia, 2nd Edition, Volume 7, Reptiles. Gale Group, Farmington Hills MI.

Walsh, Trooper, and J. B. Murphy. 2003. Observations on the husbandry, breeding and behaviour of the Indian python, Python molurus molurus at the National Zoological Park, Washington, DC. Inter. Zoo Yearb. 38:145-152.

Murphy, J.B., Claudio Ciofi, Columba de La Panouse, and Trooper Walsh (eds.). 2002. Komodo Dragons: Biology and Conservation. Smithsonian Institution Press. Washington DC.

Card, Winston, and James B. Murphy. 2000. Lineages of zoo herpetologists in the United States. SSAR Herpetological Circulars No. 27:1-44.

Walsh, Trooper, David Chiszar, Eric Wikramanayake, Hobart M. Smith, and James B. Murphy. 1999. The thermal biology of captive and free ranging wild Komodo dragons, Varanus komodoensis (Reptilia: Sauria: Varanidae).  Advances in Monitor Research II-Mertensiella 11:239-246.

Hartdegen, Ruston W., David Chiszar, and James B. Murphy. 1999. Observations on the feeding behavior of captive black tree monitors, Varanus beccari. Amphibia-Reptilia 20:330-332.

Murphy, J.B. and Winston C. Card. 1998. A glimpse into the life of a zoo herpetologist. Herpetol. Rev. 29(2):85-90.

Marcellini, Dale L., and J. B. Murphy. 1998. Education in a zoological park or aquarium: an ontogeny of learning opportunities. Herpetologica 54 (Suppl.):S12-S16.

Garrett, Clay M., Donal M. Boyer, Winston C. Card, David T. Roberts, D.T., James B. Murphy, and David Chiszar. 1996. Comparison of chemosensory behavior and prey trail-following in the varanoid lizards Varanus gouldii and Heloderma suspectum. Zoo Biol. 15:255-265.

Boyer, Donal, Clay M. Garrett, James B. Murphy, David Chiszar, and Hobart M. Smith.  1995. In the footsteps of Charles C. Carpenter:  facultative strike-induced chemosensory searching and trail following behavior of bushmasters (Lachesis muta) at Dallas Zoo. J.C. Gillingham and T.A. Jenssen (Eds.).  Herpetological Monographs 9:161-168.

Murphy, J.B., Kraig Adler, and Joseph Collins (Eds.).  1994.  Captive Management and Conservation of Amphibians and Reptiles.  Society for the Study of Amphibians and Reptiles Contributions to Herpetology.

Chiszar, David, W. T. Tomlinson, Hobart M. Smith, James B. Murphy, and Charles W. Radcliffe. 1993.  Behavioral consequences of husbandry manipulations:  indicators of excitement and other psychological processes in reptiles.  In:  Health and Welfare of Captive Reptiles.  C. Warwick, F. Frye and J.B. Murphy (Eds.).  Chapman - Hall Publishers.

Chiszar, David, James B. Murphy, and Hobart M. Smith.  1993.  In search of zoo- academic collaborations:  a research agenda for the 1990's.  Herpetologica 49(4):488-500.

Murphy, J.B., and Joseph T. Collins.  1983.  A review of the diseases and treatments of captive turtles.  AMS Publishing Co., Lawrence, Kansas.  pp. 56.

Murphy, J.B., and Joseph T. Collins.  (Eds.)  1980.  Reproductive biology and diseases of captive reptiles.  Soc. for the Study of Amphibians and Reptiles.  Contr. Herpetol. 1. pp.  1-277.

Armstrong, Barry L., and J. B. Murphy.  1979.  The natural history of Mexican rattlesnakes.  Univ. Kansas Mus. Nat. Hist. Spec. Publ. pp. 1-88.

Murphy, J.B., and Barry L. Armstrong.  1978.  Maintenance of rattlesnakes in captivity.  Univ. Kansas Mus. Nat. Hist. Spec. Publ. pp. 1-40.

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