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Review Essays of Academic, Professional & Technical Books in the Humanities & Sciences


Snakes of the United States and Canada by Carl H. Ernst, Evelyn M. Ernst (Smithsonian) This ultimate reference presents detailed information and color photos for all snake species found in the U.S. and Canada World-renowned snake expert Carl Ernst and coauthor Evelyn Ernst reveal the unusual lifestyles of these fascinating creatures, describing every known aspect of each of the 131 species found in the United States and Canada. From the venomous rattlers to the docile garter snakes, each species is shown to display a unique set of behaviors and adaptations to its environment. Snakes have long fascinated those interested in nature. These master hunters of the rep­tile world have evolved a legless body that allows them to slip into burrows, cracks, and crevices or simply coil themselves around a branch while waiting for a bird to alight. Then, with astonishing speed, they strike their quarry. Now their secret world is explained as Carl and Evelyn Ernst present virtually all that is known about each of the 131 species of snakes found in the United States and Canada. Their clear writing coupled with color photographs and a range map for each species results in a book that explains how to identify each snake, where the snakes occur, and how they behave. Detailed information is given about each snake's morphology, reproduc­tion, growth rate, diet, and predators.

The book reveals the astonishing diversity of snakes that can be found in the United States and Canada. Beginning with the elusive blind snakes, Ernst and Ernst then describe the three species of boas, the many species of colubrid snakes, and finally the venomous coral snakes, pit vipers, and yellow-bellied sea snake. A glossary of terms and bibliography complete this comprehensive reference book. Destined to become a classic, much more than simply a field guide, this massive reference begins with an introduction to snake biology and evolution, which is followed by an identification guide and key to the North American species. The heart of the book is the species accounts which, accompanied by color photographs, provide detailed information on identifying features, geographic variation, known fossils, current distribution, habitat type, behavior, reproduction, growth, diet, and predators. Completing the book is a glossary of terms and a comprehensive reference section. No other book provides as thorough or as reliable coverage.


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