Whether they're considered cool or creepy, reptiles and amphibians spark curiosity in most people who come across them. This introductory, USA-focused guide – the book that author Michael A. Smith says he "would have wanted at age thirteen or fourteen" – offers an educational and inspirational starting point to discovering reptiles and amphibians in their natural habitats.
The Wild Lives of Reptiles and Amphibians introduces readers to the exciting native species they can observe on a family nature trip or a walk through the local park. Smith takes readers through creeks, rivers, and bottomland forests and across woods, deserts, and plains, profiling the herps to be found along the way with vivid photographs and helpful descriptions. Species included focus on the variety of herps found in the field – such as the American bullfrog, the eel-like Amphiuma, the western diamond-backed rattlesnake, and the ornate box turtle – instead of the typical zoo species. Along the way, readers learn about the lifecycle of a frog, the secret to slithering, and how a turtle is able to pull its head completely into its shell. Within these stories, readers learn how herps hunt, move, defend themselves, find mates, and adapt to the places in which they live.
For readers who are ready to take the next step, tips are given on where and how to find these animals and whether to approach them, pick them up, or admire them from a distance as well as notes on exploring safely and responsibly.
Michael A. Smith is the co-founder of the Dallas–Fort Worth Herpetological Society and often teaches herpetology to local classes of master naturalists. By day, he is a licensed psychological associate and lives in Arlington, Texas.