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 Review of Reptiles and Amphibians of Canada. 208 pages. Authors: Chris Fisher, Amanda Joynt and Ron Brooks. List Price $18.95

Two reviews are presented here by a couple of friends of reptiles and amphibians, Nancy Hiscock and Lauren Trute.
Chris has asked me to provide a review of Lone Pine Publishing's recent book, Reptiles and Amphibians of Canada, authored by Chris Fisher, Amanda Joynt, and Ronald Brooks.
After a quick study, I found it to be a great little book; not only did it provide good overviews of many species, but in particular, what I really liked was that it could be enjoyed by our younger naturalists as well.

The book is nicely laid out with illustrations and photographs, easy to read species accounts, including identification characteristics, activity patterns, reproduction, diet, and habitat. Other information such as range maps, similar species, best sites for viewing and a "Did you Know" trivia section provide additional details about each species.

It also makes a very good attempt at dispelling the myths, fears and misconceptions that have developed around reptiles and amphibians, and helps to make the connection as to how each species plays a special role in our environment. I particularly liked the Species-at-Risk overview which includes the current status of each species and why it may be at risk - very appropriate and timely.
Another treasure from Lone Pine!
Nancy is a private consultant biologist who enjoys finding species at risk!
Reptiles and Amphibians of Canada would be an excellent book for the novice naturalist or for anyone wanting to learn a little more about the "herps" in their backyard.

Similar to other books published by Lone Pine, this one begins with "species at a glance" pages, helping the reader to navigate to the critter they are looking for. The book's introduction is twelve pages long, and is informative and very well written. The reader is educated in plain language about the evolution of reptiles and amphibians and of the basic life cycles of each. The vast habitats in Canada are separated into the temperate West Coast, interior Okanagan, Grasslands, Great Lakes region and the Maritimes with some general characteristics of each explained. The next section in the introduction is called "The Good, the Bad and the Misconceptions" and it delves into some of the reasons that people have a fear of the scaled and slimy. The "Hands On" section of the introduction gives people a crash course in handling (or not) the critters they might find in the field. This section has some really good advice, including making sure your hands are clean (no bug spray), handling gently, and promptly returning to the point of capture.

The individual species accounts feature illustrations for the most part, as well as some "getting to know you" information about the species and then the identification features, range, etc. Although the illustrations are wonderful, in some cases they seem a little blurry, and may not be sufficient for someone using the book for species identification. There are photographs of several species, and these are clear, colourful, and of excellent quality.

Other interesting features of the book are the "Did you know?" sections which present interesting factoids for the different species. For example, "Did you know? Coastal tailed frogs are the longest-lived frogs in Canada; some individuals live up to 20 years!..." Also, the glossary section gives a few good explanations of commonly used "herp terms".

All in all, this book is well written and illustrated, and gives the beginner naturalist, young or old, a good introduction to reptiles and amphibians.
Lauren is a biologist currently employed as the Fire Management Clerk, Pembroke Fire Management Headquarters, Ministry of Natural Resources, Pembroke.







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