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Field Guides & Natural History  Reptiles & Amphibians  Reptiles

California Snakes and How to Find Them

Field / Identification Guide New
By: Emily Taylor(Author)
208 pages, colour photos
Publisher: Heyday Books
California Snakes and How to Find Them
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  • California Snakes and How to Find Them ISBN: 9781597146340 Paperback Jun 2024 Not in stock: Usually dispatched within 1-2 weeks
Price: £15.99
About this book Contents Customer reviews Biography Related titles

About this book

A herpetologist introduces budding snake enthusiasts to the wonders of California snakes.

Fear of snakes is one of the most common phobias in the world, yet step into any local zoo and you'll find the snake pit to be among these menageries' greatest attractions. In this entrancing ode to the charms of California's legless reptiles, rattlesnake wrangler Emily Taylor shares her knowledge, enthusiasm, and advice for getting to know our slithering neighbours, dispelling the usual misapprehensions that surround them and celebrating their striking biological traits along the way.

Featuring profiles of the nearly 50 fork-tongued species that burrow and coil in California's diverse habitats, and containing tips for serpent seekers – including identification guides and handling advice – California Snakes and How to Find Them delves into the longstanding myths and latest natural history research on our ophidian friends of the West. Taylor showcases the biodiversity of California's snakes, from the Common Garter to the fetchingly pink Rosy Boa to the elusive Alameda Striped Racer, illustrated with more than 100 detailed photographs. Supported with critical insights – such as what to do during a venomous encounter, and an exploration of the seemingly simple question, What is a snake? – this guide is the perfect companion for both the seasoned naturalist and the budding snake enthusiast.


What Are Snakes?
California Is a Perfect State for Snakes
People and Snakes – A Complicated Relationship
What's in a Snake's Name?
How to Find and Watch Snakes in California
Think Before You Touch
California Rattlesnakes Deserve Our Respect, Not Fear
What Good Are Rattlesnakes? (sidebar or box)
That's Not a Snake!

Family Boidae
- Rubber Boa (Charina bottae)
- Rosy Boa (Lichanura orcutti)
Family Colubridae
- Glossy Snake (Arizona elegans)
- Baja California Ratsnake (Bogertophis rosaliae)
- Shovel-nosed Snakes (Chionactis annulata and C. occipitalis)
- North American Racer (Coluber constrictor)
- Sharp-tailed Snakes (Contia longicauda and C. tenuis)
- Ring-necked Snake (Diadophis punctatus)
- Nightsnakes (Hypsiglena chlorophaea and H. ochrorhyncha)
- California Kingsnake (Lampropeltis californiae)
- Mountain Kingsnakes (Lampropeltis multifasciata and L. zonata)
- Coachwhips (Masticophis flagellum and M. fuliginosus)
- Striped Racer (Masticophis lateralis)
- Striped Whipsnake (Masticophis taeniatus)
- Watersnakes (Nerodia fasciata and N. sipedon)
- Spotted Leaf-nosed Snake (Phyllorhynchus decurtatus)
- Gopher Snake (Pituophis catenifer)
- Long-nosed Snake (Rhinocheilus lecontei)
- Western Patch-nosed Snake (Salvadora hexalepis)
- Western Ground Snake (Sonora semiannulata)
- Black-headed Snakes (Tantilla hobartsmithi and T. planiceps)
- Aquatic Garter Snake (Thamnophis atratus)
- Sierra Garter Snake (Thamnophis couchii)
- Western Terrestrial Garter Snake (Thamnophis elegans)
- Giant Garter Snake (Thamnophis gigas)
- Two-striped Garter Snake (Thamnophis hammondii)
- Checkered Garter Snake (Thamnophis marcianus)
- Northwestern Garter Snake (Thamnophis ordinoides)
- Common Garter Snake (Thamnophis sirtalis)
- Lyresnakes (Trimorphodon lambda and T. lyrophanes)
Family Hydrophiidae
- Yellow-bellied Sea Snake (Hydrophis platurus)
Family Leptotyphlopidae
- Western Threadsnake (Rena humilis)
Family Typhlopidae
- Brahminy Blindsnake (Indotyphlops braminus)
Family Viperidae
- Western Diamond-backed Rattlesnake (Crotalus atrox)
- Sidewinder (Crotalus cerastes)
- Western Rattlesnake (Crotalus oreganus)
- Southwestern Speckled Rattlesnake (Crotalus pyrrhus)
- Red Diamond Rattlesnake (Crotalus ruber)
- Mojave Rattlesnake (Crotalus scutulatus)
- Panamint Rattlesnake (Crotalus stephensi)

Recommended Further Reading
About the Author

Customer Reviews


Emily Taylor is a professor of biological sciences at California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo, where she conducts research on the physiology, ecology, and conservation biology of lizards and snakes. A staunch advocate for improving the public image of snakes, especially rattlesnakes, Dr Taylor is the founder of the community science initiative Project RattleCam (, where members of the public help her and other scientists learn about rattlesnakes by analyzing photos and livestream footage from snake dens. She is the owner of Central Coast Snake Services, which helps people and snakes in California coexist safely and peacefully. She lives in Atascadero with her husband, Steve, and their menagerie of rescue animals, including Pax the dog, Baby the boa constrictor, Aperol Spritz the bearded dragon, and rattlesnakes Buzz and Snakeholio.

Field / Identification Guide New
By: Emily Taylor(Author)
208 pages, colour photos
Publisher: Heyday Books
Media reviews

"I've loved snakes since childhood and am thrilled to now have this gorgeous book as my companion to finding snakes wherever a walk on the wild side takes me."
– Amy Tan, author of The Joy Luck Club and The Backyard Bird Chronicles

"For anyone who loves snakes, or who wants to love them, Emily Taylor's California Snakes and How to Find Them is packed with facts in reader-friendly prose by one of the world's leading snake biologists and conservationists. The utility and emotional impact of this book are further enhanced by some of the most evocative photographs of snakes I've ever seen, spanning technically perfect closeups of heads to stunning images of individuals in their species-typical habitats. California Snakes sets a new high bar for nature education, and I look forward to future volumes about other animal groups."
– Harry W. Greene, author of Snakes: The Evolution of Mystery in Nature and Tracks and Shadows: Field Biology as Art

"Emily Taylor's enthusiasm and love for snakes shine through every sentence of California Snakes and How to Find Them. Her engaging personal stories, authoritative information, and spectacular photographs will charm snake-lovers and future snake-lovers alike. See you in the field, armed with persistence, luck, and knowledge. Happy herping!"
– Marty Crump, author of Eye of Newt and Toe of Frog, Adder's Fork and Lizard's Leg: The Lore and Mythology of Amphibians and Reptiles

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