20 May 2011

Book Review: Venomous Snakes of the World

I must confess I love snakes. Something about these reptiles appeals to me. Perhaps their odd lack of limbs or their unnerving lack of eyelids blinking, or maybe just the dangerous allure draws me in. No matter the reason, snakes truly are fascinating animals. That being said, I have always been cautious of venomous snakes and have kept a safe distance. This book will allow you the up-close look you've always desired.

As a child growing up in South Carolina I was often warned while playing outside to be on the look out for copperheads and rattlesnakes. More than once I heard the tell-tale rattle as I ran through the woods near my home but never was I too worried. As an adult I became even more interested in reptiles and spent many days hiking through Southern swamplands looking for herps. Oddly enough I rarely found many snakes. I have learned that snakes will always show up when you're not looking for them (like this week when I saw three different species in two days).

All my close-calls with venomous snakes have been quite pleasant. You can find a few posts here at The Flying Mullet such as my lifer Pygmy Rattlesnake encounter or my run in with a large "canebrake." But if you're looking for some really good stories about venomous snakes or just want to brush up on your snake knowledge then you must check out Venomous Snakes of the World by Mark O'Shea.

O'Shea breaks up the book by geography which is a little unusual but quite effective. In each section he covers species that represent the venomous snakes of that region. I really like his personal antidotes and tales of snake interactions. This guy really has had a lot of snake adventures and more than once has he had to tend to a snake bite from a deadly species. Venomous Snakes of the World is both entertaining and informative. For the armchair naturalist it is the perfect way to view these secretive animals. Though I am a snake lover I will admit that a few of these snakes I would much rather meet on the pages of this book than in the field. If you want a world of information on venomous snakes then look no further than Venomous Snakes of the World. I promise you that you will find the text entertaining and the photos unforgettable.

Princeton University Press has some great articles the author: Q&A with Mark O'Shea, details about his new book Boas and Pythons of the World, and a link to Mark O'Shea's website.

This review copy was provided by Princeton University Press.

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