'Reptiles and Amphibians'

Authors: Mark O'Shea & Tim Halliday
Date published: 2002
Name of Publisher: Dorling Kindersley
ISBN: 978-1-4053-5793-7

Although this title doesn't deal with captive care or husbandry of exotic pets, I bought a copy with the idea of using it as a reference to species which are less common, but still found in the pet trade, such as the Asian Tree Toad (Pedostibes hosii) and Jamaican Boa (Epicrates subflavus).

Layout and Design
This handbook begins with an introduction to reptiles and amphibians, including their behaviours and biology, which gives an important background to the individual species profiles that follow. All the information is accompanied by full colour photographs, and put together in an easy to navigate form. Like many handbooks, some species information is summarised by icons and symbols, however these are easy to follow, and a full key is included at the end of the introduction section.

The species profiles are restricted to a small space, with up to 3 on a page. However, none of the space is wasted; high quality colour photographs take up a large area to aid identification, accompanied by a short paragraph of information, and various key facts. Each species' paragraph summarises their behaviour and biology in 100-150 words. Key facts are arranged around the photo/paragraph section, including common name, scientific name, conservation status, adult length, diet, reproduction and similar/related species - all of which are invaluable for further research into a species and gaining an insight into their requirements in captivity.

Content and Style
Dorling Kindersley handbooks have a reputation for being of a high standard, and this guide is no exception. Regardless of the small space allocated to each animal, the important details are provided in a concise and to-the-point manner, and it could provide invaluable in identifying an unfamiliar species. None of the written work appears to be "padding", and the authors only seem to mention facts which are well verified and understood, preventing misrepresentation of the animals at a later date.

The reptile and amphibian species documented cover a wide range, from species commonly seen in the pet trade such as Leopard Geckos (Eublepharis macularius), to rare but occasionally available Fly River Turtles (Carettochelys insculpta). This handbook also covers animals which require a Dangerous Wild Animals (DWA) license to keep in the UK, such as venemous snakes/lizards, and crocodilians.

As an identification guide, it provides virtually no information on captive husbandry or care, but is ideal for pointing you in the right direction by explaining the natural habitat, distribution and diet. The majority of the species listed are available in some capacity in the exotic pet trade, making this a useful title for keepers, especially when a quick reference is needed.

Certainly a good piece of reference material to have handy. Despite its small size, it covers a large number of animals, and has a good selection of species. Ideal for anyone with an interest in the different varieties of reptile and amphibian, a starting point for species information, or a quick ID.

If you have any questions regarding this review, or require further information on this title, please contact me using the email address below:
Paul Edmondson

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