The Book of Snakes: A Life-Size Guide to Six Hundred Species from around the World (Hardcover)
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For millennia, humans have regarded snakes with an exceptional combination of fascination and revulsion. Some people recoil in fear at the very suggestion of these creatures, while others happily keep them as pets. Snakes can convey both beauty and menace in a single tongue flick and so these creatures have held a special place in our cultures. Yet, for as many meanings that we attribute to snakes—from fertility and birth to sin and death—the real-life species represent an even wider array of wonders.
The Book of Snakes presents 600 species of snakes from around the world, covering nearly one in six of all snake species. It will bring greater understanding of a group of reptiles that have existed for more than 160 million years, and that now inhabit every continent except Antarctica, as well as two of the great oceans.
This volume pairs spectacular photos with easy-to-digest text. It is the first book on these creatures that combines a broad, worldwide sample with full-color, life-size accounts. Entries include close-ups of the snake’s head and a section of the snake at actual size. The detailed images allow readers to examine the intricate scale patterns and rainbow of colors as well as special features like a cobra’s hood or a rattlesnake’s rattle. The text is written for laypeople and includes a glossary of frequently used terms. Herpetologists and herpetoculturists alike will delight in this collection, and even those with a more cautious stance on snakes will find themselves drawn in by the wild diversity of the suborder Serpentes.
About the Author
Mark O’Shea MBE is a herpetologist, zoologist, author, lecturer, and television presenter. He is professor of herpetology at the University of Wolverhampton and he previously spent thirty-three years as curator of reptiles at West Midland Safari Park. He has made ten expeditions to Papua New Guinea since 1986 and between 2009 and 2014 was coleader of a team based out of Victor Valley College, California, conducting the first herpetofaunal survey of Timor-Leste. O’Shea has hosted television documentaries focused on reptiles for the Discovery Channel, the BBC, ITV, and Channel 4, including four seasons as host of the Animal Planet/Discovery Channel show O’Shea’s Big Adventure. He has participated as herpetologist on numerous tropical expeditions for the Royal Geographical Society, Oxford University, Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, University of Melbourne, University of Adelaide, Operation Raleigh, Raleigh Executive, and Discovery Expeditions. He is a fellow of the Explorers’ Club of New York, Royal Geographical Society, and Linnean Society of London. O’Shea is the author of nine books, including A Guide to the Snakes of Papua New Guinea, which he is currently completely revising. In 2018 he was honored when an Asian pipesnake was named Cylindrophis osheai. He has coauthored twelve new snake species descriptions, two of which are included in the second edition of The Book of Snakes. In 2020 he was awarded an MBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours “for services to higher education, zoology, reptile conservation and snakebite research”. He lives in Shropshire, England, twenty miles from the birthplace of Charles Darwin.
“O’Shea provides a rich introduction to the snake world, revealing that there are just over3,700 living snake species known today and detailing the vagaries of skin shedding, venom delivery and snake reproduction. Each of the species featured has a page devoted to it, with a map showing its location, information on its habits, plus color photographs of the snake itself. Flicking through the book reveals the amazing diversity of snakes—tiny acid-green Vinesnakes, vibrantly striped Rainbow Snakes and the ghost-like Japanese Aodaisho.”
— Wall Street Journal