Jeff dives headfirst into nearly everything. He overflows with curiosity about nature, especially animals that give some folks the creeps.
Jeff Briggler waded through the swamp. Out of the corner of his eye he spied a snake gliding across the water. The serpent was slithering away fast, so Jeff did what any self-respecting herpetologist would do—he dived headfirst into the murky water. When he surfaced, spitting and sputtering, he held a rare western mud snake.
“As a boy, I was scared of snakes,” Jeff says. When he finally found the nerve to pick one up, he was startled by how silky smooth it felt. In college, Jeff learned that scientists still had many unanswered questions about reptiles and amphibians. He’s been working to answer Jeff Briggler wrangles creepy-crawlies.
Why? As a herpetologist it’s hiss job to study reptiles and amphibians. those questions ever since.
Jeff once counted 333 spring peeper eggs as they were laid in a bucket, just to see how many the frog could lay. He’s discovered that collared lizards are curious, mud snakes are gentle and spiny softshell turtles like to bite. Jeff was the first ever to find Ozark zigzag salamander eggs in the wild, and he’s become a world expert on the hellbender, a 2-foot salamander that lives in clear Ozark streams.
“The more we learn and the more I can teach people about these creatures, the better off they’ll be,” Jeff says.
“There are 112 species of reptiles and amphibians in Missouri. It’s my job to make sure 112 stay here.”
Nichole LeClair Terrill