In the best tradition of natural history writing and art, The Snake and the Salamander explores the diverse collection of reptiles and amphibians that inhabit the northeastern quadrant of the United States. Covering 13 states that run from Maine to Virginia, author Alvin R. Breisch and artist Matt Patterson showcase the lives of 83 species of snakes, lizards, turtles, frogs, and salamanders. These intriguing animals are organised by habitat and type, from forest to grassland to bogs to big waters, and revealed through a combination of Breisch's engaging prose and Patterson's original colour illustrations.
Breisch's guided tour combines historical notes and conservation issues with lessons on genetics, evolution, habitats, life histories, and more. Discover how careful attention to frog calls coupled with DNA analysis led to the discovery of a new species of frog in New York City, why evolutionary adaptations made the Eastern Ratsnake a superb climber, and the surprising fact that Spiny Softshell turtles actually sprint on land to retreat from predators. Breisch also tells the odd tale of the Green Frog and the Smooth Greensnake, two "green species" that do not actually have any green pigment in their skin. Every species has a story to tell – one that will keep the reader wanting to learn more.
The breadth of herpetofauna in the area will surprise many readers: more than 8% of the world's salamanders and 11% of all turtle species live in the region. Beyond numbers, however, lie aesthetics. The surprising colours and fascinating lifestyles of the reptile and amphibian species in The Snake and the Salamander will mesmerise readers young and old.
Chapter 1: Northeastern Deciduous Forests
Chapter 2: Dry Pine Woodlands
Chapter 3: Northeastern Grasslands
Chapter 4: Wicked Big Puddles
Chapter 5: Bogs
Chapter 6: Headwaters
Chapter 7: Small Waters
Chapter 8: Big Waters
Chapter 9: Coastal Plains
Appendix A. Habitats utilized by species of frogs
Appendix B. Habitats utilized by species of salamanders
Appendix C. Habitats utilized by species of turtles
Appendix D. Habitats utilized by species of lizards
Appendix E. Habitats utilized by species of snakes
Alvin R. Breisch, a collaborator with the Roosevelt Wild Life Station, was the amphibian and reptile specialist and the director of the Amphibian and Reptile Atlas Project for the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation until his retirement in 2009. He is a coauthor of The Amphibians and Reptiles of New York State: Identification, Natural History, and Conservation.
Matt Patterson is the illustrator of Freshwater Fish of the Northeast, which won the 2010 National Outdoor Book Award in the category of Design and Artistic Merit.
"The breadth of herpetofauna in the area will surprise many readers: more than 8% of the world's salamanders and 11% of all turtle species live in the region. Beyond numbers, however, lie aesthetics. The surprising colors and fascinating lifestyles of the reptile and amphibian species in this book will mesmerize readers young and old."
– The Birdbooker Report
"While most field guides are organized by species, this book is more than a field guide; it places the animals in the context of their environment."
– The Altamont Enterprise