Book Review: FIELD GUIDE TO AMPHIBIANS AND REPTILES OF THE SAN DIEGO REGION – November 2012

The Reptile Times

Reviewed by Jonathan Rheins
There is no shortage of excellent general husbandry books available to the modern herepeteculturist.  These run the gamut from basic care for beginning hobbyists to extensive, professional texts written for the advanced keeper.  Many of these titles are but a few years old, yet have already secured their spot as “classic” references and some are in very high demand.  It is rare, however, for a field guide to gain as much attention or popular demand as Field Guide to Amphibians and Reptiles of the San Diego Region has since its initial publication in 2006.
Written by San Diego native Jeffrey M. Lemm, this guide will provide the reader with a great opportunity to discover the herpetological diversity of San Diego County and the surrounding areas.  While most likely to appeal to field herpers and reptile keepers, this book will be of interest to nearly anyone who spends timeoutdoors and has an interest in the region’s native herpetofauna.
book

For those living in Southern California, this book is a must have.  And for those who do not, this book still gets the highest recommendation from myself and the entire LLLReptile staff.  Many of the species covered in this guide have naturally occurring ranges that extend far beyond just San Diego, making this reference a valuable tool for those living in and/or herping in adjacent states.

Now, on to the specifics of the book!  Each species account includes both common and Latin names, a detailed physical description, full color photo, and a thorough review of the species natural history.  Additionally, taxonomic notes are offered as well, and here the reader will find information regarding relevant subspecies, their taxonomical status, and history.  The majority of entries are accompanied by range maps showing both historical and current habitation.

Jeff Lemm is a noted conservation ecologist, with an emphasis in herpetolgy. His passion for helping to preserve our delicate flora and fauna shines through in this text.  Conservation status of each species is included in the individual species accounts, as well as a special chapter on conservation and issues surrounding reptiles and amphibians specifically.  Additionally, there is a very interesting chapter on amphibian chytridiomycosis, a fungus that has become one of the leading causes of amphibian population decline worldwide over the past decade.
Also included are chapters covering the geography, geologic history, and major habitats of the San Diego region.  A special chapter on snake envenomation by Dr. Sean Bush is included as well, along with an easy to use and very concise identification key to the herps of San Diego written by noted herpetologist Jay Savage.
The bulk of the book is devoted to the species accounts, which are broken up into orders (Caudata, Sauria, etc.) and each section is further designated by a color coded upper corner of each respective page.  This makes finding specific entries very easy when in a hurry.  The remainder of the book includes a thorough glossary, species checklist, index, and a detailed references section.
Overall, this is a great book and an excellent field guide.  The author clearly went above and beyond in his research and preparation of this work.  As an avid herper himself, Jeff Lemm  located and photographed every species noted in the text.  His level of interest and dedication is clearly represented in the final product.
Whether you spend your weekends cruising the desert for snakes, or studying herpetology from the comfort of your home, this book will provide you with more than enough information to find, identify, and truly appreciate the incredible herps that call Southern California their home!

Paperback, 326 pages.  Perfect bound with glossy, full color cover and photographs throughout.  In stock and available for purchase at www.LLLReptile.com, or in any of our retail stores!

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