Book reviews:    Southern African Snakes and other Reptiles

Southern African Snakes and other Reptiles
Bill Branch
1 86825 392 9
Struik Publishers
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Small pocket sized field guide in the photographic guide series by Struik. This books covers the more common reptiles of southern Africa. The focus of the book is on snakes but other reptiles are also included, such as Skink, Lizard, Agama, Gecko, Terrapins and Turtoises. All together there are some 244 species included, which is certainly not all of the species occurring in Africa, since there are about 400 species of reptiles living in this part of the world.

In 1996 I bought this book when I was in South Africa for my Field Guide training and I thought it to be a good guide to learn more about snakes. Learning about snakes (and handling them) is a very important part of a field guide training program. The book is nice to help you identify a snake crawling by. To learn more about the animal itself the book is too small. The guide is really intended for identification purposes. But it is a nice guide to take with you on walking trips in the bush. Because if you don't go wondering about in the bush, you will probably not see these animals. If you do go walking around, the size of the book is very nice. If you want more information on the reptiles, then you should have a look at Snakes and other reptiles of southern Africa by the same author.

Usually three or four animals are descibed on two pages. Each animal has a photograph, a distribution map and some text. The dangerous snakes have a symbol next to their name indicating poisonous or fatal.

As with most books in this series, it is very small and handy. It is a very nice book for anybody going on a walking safari in southern Africa. If you stay in your car you will probably not see any of the animals described in this book. From my experience lots of tourists will be glad not to see most of these animals from a short distance. Which is actually a shame.

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All text and images 1991 - 2011 Hans Martens