The following is a cross-section of books dealing with reptiles as a class, and often also amphibians. These books normally fall into the category of natural history or husbandry, or both. Books dealing with particular orders (eg lizards, snakes) are dealt with under their own section elsewhere on this site, as are books relating mainly or solely to dinosaurs.

Natural History

Reptiles, Angus d'Bellairs and John Attridge.

I have only ever seen this book once, in our public library, and enquiries at the local chain bookstore proved futile. This is a pity, because these two British authors produced a very readable introduction to reptiles and their natural history, covering both living and extinct orders. The toughest part of the book is the first chapter, dealing with every aspect of general reptilian anatomy and physionomy (it was this part that persuaded me to buy a general introduction to zoology!). Once you have got through this, however, the sweat pays for itself in the following chapters as each order of the Reptilia is dealt with in turn, taking in the tuatara and the prehistoric marine reptiles as well as dinosaurs and living reptiles. There is not much in the way of captive care here, but a reptile keeper can nevertheless learn a good deal from it. One slight caution is that the book was last reprinted in 1975, so new data may have supplemented or corrected a small amount of information in here. If you can find this book, buy it.

Life of Reptiles, Angus d'Bellairs, 2 vols.

This was one of a series of books entitled "Life of.... ", eg Life of Mammals. As with the above book by Bellairs, this one is now out of print. Of all the books I have seen on reptiles, this seems be the most exhaustive, both volumes running to a few hundred pages each and covering every aspect of reptile biology and natural history. Again, it's old but definitely worth purchasing if you can find a second-hand copy.

Reptile Husbandry

Encyclopedia of Reptiles & Amphibians, John Breen, TFH

This seems to be a standard reference work, since nearly every shop that sells reptiles seems to have a copy tucked away, either for sale or consultation. It sells for about £24, for which you do get a very extensive guide to most of the reptiles and amphibians of the world (or at least, those which could be kept in captivity in 1970 in the USA). The book is lavish with the photos, including about 250 colour plates. The book's age does show in a few places, however. Some species, notably the amphisbaenians and caecilians, are almost completely neglected, while a lot of coverage is given to the crocodilians - valid, true, but the book doesn't seem to stress that keeping crocodilians is not for the majority of herpetologists. Maybe people were more blasť about owning alligators in those days. Also, the suggestion that box turtles can be tethered by drilling a hole in their plastron is nowadays rightly considered as barbarous and dangerous to the health of the animal. A good introductory book to a wide range of herptiles, then, but if you fancy any of the creatures listed therein, please get a more modern guide to that species.

The Care and Maintenance of Reptiles and Amphibians in Captivity, Eric Rundquist, TFH

TFH do occasionally excel themselves, and this is one of those books. Although not a complete encyclopedia, this is fairly comprehensive coverage of the general husbandry of herptiles in captivity, with emphasis on breeding and raising young. Rundquist himself is a bit of a quirky writer, inclined to harangue in places, but he gets away with it because he seems to know what he is talking about. After dealing firstly with the problem of stress in captive herps he goes on to cover diet, refusal to eat, other forms of sickness and then breeding and care of young. Both reptiles and amphibians seem to get a fair crack of the whip, and Rundquist also deals with special cases such as poison frogs and Green Tree Pythons. Some might quibble with his denunciation of sand as a gecko substrate, and I don't agree with him when he says that monitors (presumably any monitor) do not belong in private collections. He is also adamantly against the keeping of venomous snakes, a point of view I strongly sympathise with. The book is also liberally illustrated with colour photographs which furthermore do not seem to include the usual bunch that TFH tend to recycle. Price is £24, but I got mine for half price and my public library also stocks a copy.

The Proper Care of Reptiles, John Coborn, TFH

To be fair I have only read this book once, and even then I think I skipped a few pages as it was in the public library. However, Coborn writes at a reasonable level, giving sensible advice on aspects of care for each order of reptiles and giving some examples of those which can be kept without too much difficulty. I will try to read this book again in the near future and amend this review if necessary. There is a companion volume by the same author which I have also flicked through, The Proper Care of Amphibians, and once again I received a favourable impression.

More books will be reviewed here as I come across them.

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