|Born||20 November 1794
|Died||10 December 1884 (aged 90)|
|Alma mater||University of Pavia|
Rüppell was born at Frankfurt-on-Main, the son of a very prosperous banker. He was originally destined to be a merchant, but after a visit to Sinai in 1817 he developed an interest in natural history. He attended lectures at the University of Pavia and University of Genoa in botany and zoology.
Rüppell set off on his first expedition in 1821, accompanied by surgeon Michael Hey as his assistant. They travelled through the Sinai desert, and in 1822 were the first European explorers to reach the Gulf of Aqaba. They then proceeded to Alexandria via Mount Sinai. In 1823 they travelled up the Nile to Nubia, collecting specimens in the area south of Ambukol, returning to Cairo in July 1825. A planned journey through Ethiopia only reached as far as Massawa, where the party suffered ill health.
Rüppell returned to Europe in 1827. During his absence Philipp Jakob Cretzschmar had used specimens sent back by Rüppell to produce the Atlas zu der Reise im nordlichen Afrika (Atlas of Travels in northern Africa) (1826).
In 1830 Rüppell returned to Africa, and became the first naturalist to traverse Ethiopia.
Rüppell also published an account of his travels, entitled, Travels in Abyssinia.
Species bearing his name include:
- Rüppell's agama, Agama rueppelli 
- Rüppell's black chat, Myrmecocichla melaena
- Rüppell's broad-nosed bat, Scoteanax rueppellii
- Rüppell's bustard, Eupodotis rueppellii
- Rüppell's desert chameleon, Trioceros affinis 
- Rüppell's fox, Vulpes rueppellii
- Rüppell's horseshoe bat, Rhinolophus fumigatus
- Rüppell's parrot, Poicephalus rueppellii
- Rüppell's pipistrelle, Pipistrellus rueppellii
- Rüppell's robin-chat, Cossypha semirufa
- Rüppell's snake-eyed skink, Ablepharus rueppellii
- Rüppell's starling, Lamprotornis purpuroptera
- Rüppell's vulture, Gyps rueppellii
- Rüppell's warbler, Sylvia rueppelli
- Rüppell's weaver, Ploceus galbula