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Book Review: Turtles of the United States and Canada


Updated Version
Original Book Reviewed

Turtles of the United States and Canada
By Carl H. Ernst, Jeffrey E. Lovich, and Roger W. Barbour

(This article originally published on Turtletopia.com in October 2002.)

Format: Paperback, 571pp.
ISBN: 1560988231
Publisher: Smithsonian Institution Press
Pub. Date: September 2000

If you’re really into turtles, this is the reference book you will have on your shelf. It summarizes the current knowledge (take that with a grain of salt, as the publishing date for this book was 1994) about 56 turtle species of the US and Canada, of which 13 are protected under the Endangered Species Act. Each of the species accounts includes sections on recognition, karyotype, fossil record, distribution, geographic variation, confusing species, habitat, behavior, reproduction, biology, growth and longevity, food habits, populations, and predators. The authors also include a discussion of turtle anatomy, a key to species identification, a pronunciation glossary for scientific names, and an extensive bibliography. And to boot, a few color photographs of select species, with plenty of b&w photographs of each species, anatomical line drawings, and distribution maps.

Stay away from this if you are a beginner, you may end up using this as a paperweight until you really “fall in love”. But if you’re a book worm like me, or aren’t afraid of the technical jargon, this makes an excellent addition to the library!

In this book…

As you know, if you are familiar with the format of my reviews, this is the section where I would post the table of contents for a book. Due to the nature of this book (being that it is a reference book), I will not be posting the table of contents listing. That would be like posting the table of contents for a volume of an encyclopedia. Can you only imagine? 😉

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Book Review: Turtles: A Complete Pet Owner’s Manual

Updated Version
Original Book Reviewed

Turtles: A Complete Pet Owner’s Manual
By Harmut Wilke

(This review was originally published on Turtletopia.com in October 2000.)

Format: Paperback, 64pp.
ISBN: 0812047028
Publisher: Barron’s Educational Series, Incorporated
Pub. Date: November 1991

Owning a turtle or tortoise requires a lot of work. Many people purchase the Chelonian without any care or thought as to what is really involved in the maintenance of the turtle. If you’re about to purchase your first herp, this book is on the highly recommended reading list.

Even though this book is out of print (this version was published in 1982), it is still a great resource for the beginning and advanced herpetologist alike. My two favorite chapters of the book are “Terrariums – Size and Equipment” and “Understanding Turtles”. Even though the author does not go into much detail on the habitat setup of the aquatic turtle, there are several pages on the setup and maintenance of the land turtles terrarium.

My other favorite chapter, “Understanding Turtles”, was excellent because the author gave a short history lesson on the origins of the turtle. In addition, he included a section on the anatomy of the turtle and discussed the subject of a turtle’s body language. Not many authors have the experience to write on those topics.

In addition to the enormous amount of information presented in this compact format book, the many photos and drawings (over 50 total!) were a great addition. As a very informative, yet clear manual, I highly recommend this book for everyone interested in learning more about turtles.

In This Book…

  1. Preface
  2. Considerations Before You Buy
  3. The Most Important Land and Water Turtles
  4. Terrariums – Size and Equipment
  5. Basic Rules for Care
  6. Diet and Feeding
  7. If Your Turtle Gets Sick
  8. Breeding Turtles
  9. Understanding Turtles
  10. Protected Turtle Species
  11. Books and Associations for Further Information
  12. Index

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Book Review: The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Turtles…

The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Turtles…
By Liz Palika

(This article originally published on Turtletopia.com in October 2000.)

Format: Hardcover, 270pp.

ISBN: 0876051433
Publisher: Macmillan General Reference
Pub. Date: December 1997

If you’re a beginner, this book is definitely for you! As a new turtle/tortoise keeper, you will need guidance that is not loaded down with technical or scientific jargon (and it’s a nice perk that the book wasn’t written in the 70’s!) Liz does a great “spell-it-out” overview of various species and general care and maintenance for the beginner. She also makes it very easy to read and with lots of practical information based on her vast experiences.

If you love to read a how-to book, this is one you will enjoy. But if you love fancy photos, 4-color pictures for reference purpose, etc… it’s not what you need. For a beginners manual, this book is really quite good. With a lighthearted writing style and little tidbits of trivia, this will be an enjoyable read.

In this book…

  1. Is a Turtle or Tortoise Right for You?
    1. What Are Turtles and Tortoises?
    2. What Are You Expecting from a Turtle?
    3. What Does Turtle Ownership Require?
    4. What Does Your Family Think?
    5. What Kind Would You Like?
    6. Finding a Turtle or Tortoise for You
  2. Welcome Home
    1. Let There Be Light!
    2. Oh Yea, It’s Hot!
    3. Water, the Magic Liquid
    4. What Else Do You Need to Know?
    5. Home Sweet Home: Aquatic or Semi-Aquatic Turtles
    6. Home Sweet Home: Terrestrial Turtles or Small Tortoises
    7. Home Sweet Outside Enclosure
  3. Open Wide
    1. You Are What You Eat
    2. Evaluating Your Pet’s Health
    3. Sex, Marriage, and Children
    4. Sleeping the Winter Away
  4. The Who’s Who of Turtles
    1. In the Water and Out
    2. The Landlubbers
    3. The Boxed Set
  5. The Who’s Who of Tortoises
    1. Teeny Tortoises
    2. The Middlemen
    3. The Special Beauties
    4. The Really Big Boys

Appendix A: A Latin Lesson
Appendix B: Where to Learn More
Appendix C: Glossary of Turtle and Tortoise Terms

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Book Review: Turtles of the World

Turtles of the World
By Carl H. Ernst and Roger W. Barbour

(This article originally published on Turtletopia.com in October 2002.)

Format: Paperback, 313pp.
ISBN: 1560982128
Publisher: Smithsonian Institution Press
Pub. Date: September 1992
Edition Desc: REPRINT

If you’re really into turtles, this is a reference book you will have on your shelf. It has all 257 known species of turtles arranged by family, with identification keys for genera and species. The descriptions include recognition details, distribution, habitat and ecology, feeding, reproduction, and endangered status. The worldwide population decline is discussed extensively. And to boot, a few color photographs of select species, with plenty of b&w photographs of each species, anatomical line drawings, and distribution maps.

I consider this reference book suitable for both the specialist and the general reader. If you are a “green” beginner, you may want to stay away from this book until you really “fall in love”. But if you’re a book worm like me, or aren’t afraid of the technical jargon, this makes an excellent addition to the library!

In this book…

As you know, if you are familiar with the format of my reviews, this is the section where I would post the table of contents for a book. Due to the nature of this book (being that it is a reference book), I will not be posting the table of contents listing. That would be like posting the table of contents for a volume of an encyclopedia. Can you only imagine? 😉

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Book Review: Turtles…As A Hobby

Turtles…As A Hobby
By W.P. Mara

(This article originally published on Turtletopia.com in October 2000.)

Abundant information and many color pictures are what usually make a good book. The ability to keep a reader interested while educating them is essential. “Turtles…as a hobby” has that ability.

The author starts out with a brief overview on the attraction of turtles and how he became involved with them, and from there begins to explain the basics of turtle care. Also, for those picture people out there, you will be happy to know that there were maybe five pages in the whole book that did not have a picture on them. This is definitely a recommended book.

NOTE: This book is one of many in the Save-Our-Planet-Book series started by the Dr. Herbert R. Axelrod Foundation. All the profits from the sale of this series of books go towards the purchase of land in the virgin rain forests of Brazil, in order to preserve them from explotaition. If you would like further information on this foundation, write:

Dr. Herbert R. Axelrod Foundation
Box 427
Neptune City, N.J 07753
USA

In This Book…

  1. Preface
  2. The Basics
  3. Acquiring the Turtle and Equipment
  4. Captive Care
  5. Breeding
  6. Sickness and Health
  7. A Few Interesting Species
  8. Index

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Book Review: Turtles Today

Turtles Today
By: John Coborn

(This review was originally published on Turtletopia.com in September 1999.)

If you’re looking for a quick, condensed identification and instructional book on turtles and tortoises, Turtles Today is the book for you. The topics are organized in an easy to understand manner, and there are plenty of pictures to keep even the least attentive reader captive.

Turtles Today is quick and easy reading, covering topics such as feeding, housing, health, breeding, and many others. I especially liked the last two chapters of the book covering the different types of land tortoises and aquatic turtles. Including pictures with each species description was a nice touch. By looking at the cover, you might get the impression that this book is out of date, but most of the information it contains is as true today as it was when it was originally written.

As an avid herpetologist, or just a beginning herp lover, this is definitely a book to have on your shelf.

In This Book…

  1. Introduction
  2. The World of Turtles (Yesterday and Today)
  3. Home Sweet Home (Housing Your Turtles)
  4. Mealtime! (The Diet of Turtles and Tortoises)
  5. Making More Turtles (Reproduction and Captive Breeding)
  6. Turn Your Head and Cough (Health Problems of Captive Turtles)
  7. Living in Waterworld (Aquatic Turtle Species)
  8. Keeping Their Feet on the Ground (Terrestrial Turtle Species)
  9. Other Turtle Books by T.F.H.

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