The Division of Amphibians & Reptiles maintains one of the largest research collections in the western United States. A collection of 5,000 amphibians and reptiles made by William J. Koster formed the basis of the original collection. A dramatic increase in holdings occurred with the arrival of William G. Degenhardt in 1960 from Texas A&M University. Through Degenhardt's own collecting efforts and those of his classes and graduate students, the division grew rapidly in size during the 1960's and 1970's.
Since the late 1980's, the division has become the primary repository for specimens collected as part of expanding research on the State's herpetofauna by the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish, and it continues to receive herpetological collections provided by researchers, primarily from a variety of state and federal agencies. These extensive collections and the increased knowledge of New Mexico's herpetofauna resulted in the publication of Amphibians and Reptiles of New Mexico (1996) by W.G. Degenhardt, C.W. Painter & A.H. Price.
Currently, there are more than 95,000 specimens mostly from the Southwestern United States, primarily from New Mexico and Texas. However, substantial numbers of specimens from elsewhere in the U.S., Mexico, the Caribbean region, the Galápagos Islands, and Vietnam are also included. Important collections in the division's holdings include those from the Big Bend National Park by W.G. Degenhardt and T.L. Brown (all taxa), the Appalachian Plateau by G.B. Wilmott (salamanders), the West Indies by K.L. Jones (leptodactylid frogs), and the Delmarva Peninsula by R. Conant (all taxa).The division maintains representative skeletal material, a small type collection, and a collection of uncatalogued specimens for teaching purposes.