Standing on the shoulders of giants

A word about the reptile, amphibian and zoology pages on this site

Today I read a pithy but nevertheless quite true comment about information on the web. The writer was obviously one of the regulars who contributes to the outstanding Vivarium magazine, and he was talking about "the overnight self-made experts" who publish web pages and care sheets for creatures they have never kept.

This site contains a lot of basic data about many species, mainly of reptiles and amphibians. I would be the first to admit that I have not kept or looked after the vast majority of them. The ones I have looked after I have published separate pages for, titled "My experience of...". So one thing I would like the reader to understand: I am not claiming to have kept the majority of these creatures. Has anybody? Could anyone, even the most ardent breeder or zoologist, claim to have studied or kept all, or even the majority of, the 6,000 or so reptile species and the 3,500 amphibians? Even studying all 1,750 or so rodent species would probably be a lifetime's work.

Nor am I claiming to be a herpetological or zoological expert. These pages are not intended to be an all-encompassing guide to the care of gerrhosaurid lizards, monitors, salamanders or whatever else you may find here. It is also true (and should be glaringly obvious) that I have gathered much of the material from reading. The title of this particular page, "Standing on the shoulders of giants" is a way of disclaiming that this work is original. That is why I have included a Bibliography and Links section at the bottom of each page so that you can both see where the information was derived from and where you can buy a more comprehensive book. While I think the Internet is a great tool, especially for research and referencing, I also believe that there is no subject for a good book on a subject, particularly a specialist book. I would say that if you have read the page and like the species, then buy one or more of the books, or borrow from the library. (A book is also more easy to handle if you're trying to hold a struggling animal at the same time). Even in those few cases where I have made reservations about a book or author known, this may be less due to their data or facts than to the fact that in my opinion it is perhaps badly laid out, too vague, or incomprehensible. It is no good being an expert on a subject if you cannot communicate the necessary facts to an audience.

As far as the animal content of this site goes, these pages are intended as a store of basic information, such as warning what you emphatically must not do (and which most decent books will warn you about). If these pages stop you from buying an inappropriate pet or keeping one in inappropriate conditions then they will have done their work.The other motivation for publishing these pages, apart from love of the subjects themselves (and that also includes the non-animal pages), is for reference, comparison and general interest. Some of the data, like that on European lacertids or gerrhosaurid lizards, is not widely available under one roof or between one set of covers, while other data such as that on the different monitor species is to give the reader some idea of what's available and to point them to a more in-depth guide should they be interested. Where possible I have also cross-checked from several sources to make sure that they agree, and if there is a difference of opinion then I have tried to make that known as well.

No-one is immune from criticism, certainly not this webmaster. If you feel there is anything on this site that is inaccurate or wrong, or that credit has not been given where credit is due, then please let us know. I am pleased to have had E-mails from people already who have pointed out one or two discrepancies, points of information and the occasional blooper which I would have missed completely. Just let us know, and there'll be some more names on the Roll of Honour!

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