Reptile reference: Learn about the special needs of cold-blooded pets
By Chandra Orr
Copley News Service
For reptile hobbyists, a personal library of reference books is an invaluable tool. Whether researching the highly specific environmental requirements of these cold-blooded creatures or investigating emergency health concerns, those caring for captive reptiles must have the right information available at a moment’s notice.
Beginning and advanced herpetoculturists alike will benefit from the knowledge in the following tomes. From books on specific animals to texts dedicated solely to health issues, designer reptiles, and photography, these are the best of the best.
• “Green Iguana: The Ultimate Owner’s Manual” by James W. Hatfield III (Dunthorpe Press, $22.95).
This is the bible for iguana lovers. With more than 600 pages, Hatfield leaves nothing out. From basic nutritional and housing requirements to in-depth information on hygiene, potty-training, behavior modification, health and breeding, beginners and experts both are certain to discover new and practical tips for raising a happy, healthy iguana. Personal stories from more than 800 iguana owners are sprinkled throughout the text, offering insightful, and often funny, tales of life with these majestic creatures. The book also includes numerous color plates, an entire chapter on iguana farming for the pet trade and a do-it-yourself “Ultimate Iguana Habitat.”
• “The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Turtles & Tortoises” by Liz Palika (Alpha Books, $16.95).
As with other books in the Idiot’s series, this fun, fact-filled look at terrapins, turtles and tortoises feature a great deal of background and beginner information, bolstered by sidebars, need-to-know pull-out facts and humorous tales. From choosing a turtle to setting up the proper living quarters, Palika covers all the basics and then some. Turtle trivia, tips for building outdoor enclosures, an appendix of scientific names, and detailed descriptions of more than 80 available species round out the 270-page text.
• “277 Secrets Your Snake Wants You to Know: Unusual and Useful Information for Snake Owners and Snake Lovers” by Paulette Cooper (Ten Speed Press, $8.95).
This informative and entertaining text goes beyond the typical how-to manual. In addition to tips and tricks for keeping snakes in captivity, the book contains an assortment of odd facts, amazing stories and humorous anecdotes, all written in an informal, lively manner. With so much information packed in the 180-page volume, the extensive index makes it easy to find the answers to all pressing snake concerns.
• “Understanding Reptile Parasites: A Basic Manual for Herpetoculturists & Veterinarians” by Roger J. Klingenberg (Advanced Vivarium Systems, $8.95).
From ticks and mites to nematodes, protozoans and tapeworms, this book is a virtual who’s who of the tiny critters that find refuge in reptiles. It may be a bit dry, but the information is invaluable when it comes time for that all-important vet visit. With in-depth advice on testing for parasites to medication recommendations and dosage guidelines, Klingenberg has written the premier text on treating reptile parasites.
• “Designer Reptiles and Amphibians: Advice on Purchase and Selective Breeding of Color Morphs That Display Unusual Patterns” by Richard D. Bartlett, Patricia Pope Bartlett and R.D. Bartlett (Barron’s Educational Series, $6.95).
Axanthic, piebald or leucistic? Confused? The increasing number of genetic morphs, color varieties and other unique traits can make choosing a designer reptile quite a task. Reptile hobbyists will find the multiple color photos and list of terms commonly used to describe color variants especially valuable when researching the wide range of designer boas, pythons, milk snakes, kingsnakes, turtles, geckos and bearded dragons.
• “Firefly Encyclopedia of Reptiles and Amphibians” by Tim Halliday and Kraig Adler (Firefly Books, $40).
Lavish color photographs and amazing illustrations mark this coffee-table text as a must-have for reptile enthusiasts. The scholarly text includes an article on the natural history of reptiles as well as articles on specific species penned by various zoological authorities. Each entry, accompanied by a fact file and photos, introduces the reader to the life cycle, behavior, morphology, habitat, conservation status, and economic and medical importance of hundreds of species.
• “Amphibians & Reptiles in 3-D” by Mark Blum (Chronicle Books, $18.95).
While not technically a pet-owner’s reference, this coffee-table tome is educational and insightful. With built-in stereoscopic lenses, readers can peruse the miniature world of a blue poison dart frog, watch a New Mexico milksnake emerge from its egg or see the giant leaf-tailed gecko’s impressive camouflage — all in incredible 3-D. Scientific names and a brief description accompany each image.