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!

The Basking Spot: Canned Diets

The Basking Spot

By Jonathan Rheins

ZOO MED CAN O’ PRODUCTS

This month we take a look at canned whole-feeder products from Zoo Med.  These diets make feeding your herps easier and more exciting than ever.  Now you can offer your pets all sorts of insects, snails, and even shrimp!
All Zoo Med canned insects are cooked whole in the can to ensure the highest level of nutrition and palatability.  This unique cooking process also softens the exoskeleton, making the food more easily digested by even young animals.
Zoo Med Can O Diets
WHOSE FOOD
One of the greatest things about canned feeders is that most any herp will learn to eat them.  Some animals, such as bearded dragons or blue tongue skinks, will readily consume canned insects or snails straight from the can or off of a feeding plate.
Herps that normally hunt live prey may need to be enticed to try canned foods at first by moving the food around in front of them.  Use a pair of feeding tongs to gently wiggle food, giving it a life-like appearance.  Plastic tongs, like Zoo Med’s Plastic Feeding Tongs, are ideal, as the plastic tips are less likely to injure an over zealous eater!
Aquatic turtles will quickly learn to accept nearly any type of food offered to them, and Can O’ products are no exception.  Dietary variety is a cornerstone of aquatic turtle husbandry, and with Can O’ products, turtles can be offered a much wider range of prey than would be available as live feeders.
Zoo Med Can O Diets
Reptiles and amphibians are not the only animals that will enjoy Zoo Med’s canned insects.  Freshwater and marine fish will also eagerly eat these diets.  They can be free fed or even trained to accept individual pieces from feeding tongs!  Other small pets such as hedgehogs and sugar gliders will also eat Zoo Med canned insects as an alternative to, or in addition to, live foods.
CONVEINIENCE SAKE
 
For some reptile keepers, watching their pets hunt is all part of the thrill.  However, others would rather not have to deal with finding, caring for, and handling live food.  For these individuals, canned insects make keeping some insectivorous herp species a viable option for the first time.
Zoo Med Can O Diets
Additionally, by purchasing feeders in a can, there is no need to “gutload” prey items to increase their nutritional value.  In fact, they do not need to be fed or watered at all.  They can just sit on the shelf until you are ready to feed your pet.  Once opened, these products remain good for up to a week if refrigerated.
PICK YOUR FLAVOR
 
Zoo Med offers a wide variety of food items in their Can O’ products line.  Large grasshoppers (a bearded dragon favorite),caterpillars,  crickets,  mealworms,  superworms,  shrimp, and snails (great for skinks and box turtles) are all available.  The mealworms and crickets are available in two different sizes to meet the needs of herps of all ages and sizes.
LONG STORY SHORT
 
If you have any insect-eating or omnivorous herps, you really should give Zoo Med Can O’ products a try! They are readily accepted by most species, and the variety of types available allows for the provision of a naturally diverse diet.  Next time you go feeder shopping, pick up a can or two.  Your lizards, turtles, and fish will thank you!
Check out the following video showing the product in action: