Difference Between Zoologist & Mammologist

Nov 29, 2017

The large animals studied by mammologists depend upon other animals that are important to zoologists for food or as part of the ecosystem where they live. Find out more about the differences and similarities of these professions.

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Comparing a Zoologist to a Mammologist

Mammologists and zoologists both work with animals but the type differs. A zoologist could work with any type of creature from insects and spiders (invertebrates) to reptiles and birds (vertebrates), but a mammologist only works with animals that produce milk to feed their young.

Education, Salary and Job Growth Information

As of 2016, both zoologists and mammologists make an average of $60,520 per year and require a minimum of a bachelor's degree, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The bachelor's degree requirement for both professions includes a broad range of classes from standard genetics to physiology and statistics. However, to become a curator at a zoo, conduct research or work with a specific mammal, a student would need to pursue a graduate degree. Based on BLS data, growth for zoologists and wildlife biologists is projected to be 4% from 2014 to 2024.

Responsibilities of a Zoologist vs. a Mammologist

Zoologists and mammologists both study animals, but the responsibilities can vary by employer. Zoologists monitor the populations of animals ranging from reptiles and birds to fish and insects, while mammologists observe milk-producing species such as cats, dogs, bears and dolphins. Both professionals spend time in a lab and out in the field gathering data. They have a detailed understanding of the anatomy, physiology, and behavior of their particular species. Mammologists focus on the care, behavior and management of mammals. Whereas, zoologists spend a lot of their time researching and examining data on diseases, habitats, biological/environmental conditions, species and behaviors of animals.


The job of a zoologist involves understanding and analyzing the life of animals. They may be required to take blood samples for analysis in the lab or spend time following the movements of the animal in a natural environment. Work in this field may focus on breeding individuals, restoring native populations, maintaining confined populations, restricting the spread of invasive species or even designing experimental studies to understand the behavior of a specific species. Often zoologists are required to be physically fit in order to keep up with the animals they study. Many in this career continue with their education and become experts on a certain species.

Job responsibilities of a Zoologist include:

  • Documenting the impact of human populations on a particular animal species
  • Using geographic information systems and other technologies to track animal populations
  • Developing plans to manage a species at a given population size
  • Confirming compliance with all federal and state regulations regarding animal welfare


Mammals are found on all continents and in the ocean, so a mammologist may work in any habitat. They may study animal reproduction varying from raising young in a pouch (marsupial mammals), giving live birth (placental mammals) or egg-laying mammals (monotremes). Both universities and museums hire mammologists. Often, they complete a doctoral program and publish papers on issues affecting the animals they study. At universities, mammologists may be required to teach classes. The federal government and private companies employ mammologists to monitor the effects of toxic compounds on wildlife.

Job responsibilities of a Mammologist include:

  • Collecting and analyzing data on mammalian physiology
  • Organizing collections of mammalian specimens to reflect family or geographic relationships
  • Communicating with other professionals on ways to manage mammalian populations
  • Breeding rare or endangered species of mammals

Related Careers

A zoologist works with any animal species, so a microbiologist could be a related career because many insect species can be as small as microbes. Animal husbandry may be of interest to a mammologist because many livestock species are mammals.

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