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The Snake and the Salamander

Hardback
, 232 pages

93 color illus.

ISBN:
9781421421575
January 2017
$49.95

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The Snake and the Salamander

Reptiles and Amphibians from Maine to Virginia

In the best tradition of natural history writing and art, The Snake and the Salamander explores the diverse collection of reptiles and amphibians that inhabit the northeastern quadrant of the United States. Covering 13 states that run from Maine to Virginia, author Alvin R. Breisch and artist Matt Patterson showcase the lives of 83 species of snakes, lizards, turtles, frogs, and salamanders. These intriguing animals are organized by habitat and type, from forest to grassland to bogs to big waters, and revealed through a combination of Breisch’s engaging prose and Patterson’s original color illustrations.

Breisch’s guided tour combines historical notes and conservation issues with lessons on genetics, evolution, habitats, life histories, and more. Discover how careful attention to frog calls coupled with DNA analysis led to the discovery of a new species of frog in New York City, why evolutionary adaptations made the Eastern Ratsnake a superb climber, and the surprising fact that Spiny Softshell turtles actually sprint on land to retreat from predators. Breisch also tells the odd tale of the Green Frog and the Smooth Greensnake, two "green species" that do not actually have any green pigment in their skin. Every species has a story to tell—one that will keep the reader wanting to learn more.

The breadth of herpetofauna in the area will surprise many readers: more than 8% of the world’s salamanders and 11% of all turtle species live in the region. Beyond numbers, however, lie aesthetics. The surprising colors and fascinating lifestyles of the reptile and amphibian species in this book will mesmerize readers young and old.

Alvin R. Breisch, a collaborator with the Roosevelt Wild Life Station, was the amphibian and reptile specialist and the director of the Amphibian and Reptile Atlas Project for the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation until his retirement in 2009. He is a coauthor of The Amphibians and Reptiles of New York State: Identification, Natural History, and Conservation. Matt Patterson is the illustrator of Freshwater Fish of the Northeast, which won the 2010 National Outdoor Book Award in the category of Design and Artistic Merit.

"The breadth of herpetofauna in the area will surprise many readers: more than 8% of the world’s salamanders and 11% of all turtle species live in the region. Beyond numbers, however, lie aesthetics. The surprising colors and fascinating lifestyles of the reptile and amphibian species in this book will mesmerize readers young and old."

"While most field guides are organized by species, this book is more than a field guide; it places the animals in the context of their environment."

"... — go find Al’s book. It is a real gem, full of great insights and huge fun to read."

"Recommended. All readers."

"The Snake and the Salamander clearly reflects the author’s extensive knowledge and love of our natural world. Readers will be illuminated by its tales and lessons, and should strongly consider adding this book to their libraries."

"The Snake and the Salamander is full of engaging, fascinating facts presented in the context of habitat, science, and history... it inspires people to fall in love with reptiles and amphibians, to learn about how and where they live—and to protect them."

"I recommend it to anyone who loves herpetological art and natural history. The book would be especially appropriate as a gift to family members and friends who appreciate nature."

"I can’t think of a writer and an illustrator who have done a better job than Breisch and Patterson have in giving us frogs, toads, salamanders, snakes, turtles, and lizards in all their diversity and fascination."

"The Snake and the Salamander offers an alternative to the standard field guide and allows Breisch to share a career’s worth of learning and observations on the amphibians and reptiles of the Northeast USA... The Snake and the Salamander will provide insights into the lives of these often-cryptic animals for members of the public who are interested in biodiversity and will encourage the interest of developing, young herpetologists."

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