Reptile Ravings


 A Guide to Australian Snakes in Captivity, Elapids and Colubrids - Book Review

Saturday, November 10, 2012

In recent years, there have been a number of publications on the care and husbandry of Australian reptiles. With few exceptions, these have focused primarily on pythons and lizards, with very little attention paid to other Australian snake families. Until now, husbandry and breeding information on the elapid and colubrid snake families had to be sought from discussions among herpers, isolated articles in journals or magazines or carefully, and often unreliably, deduced from various online forums. However, a newly published book in a series released by Reptile Publications has aimed to close this knowledge gap.

A Guide to Australian Snakes in Captivity, Elapids and Colubrids, authored by Scott Eipper, is a well-written and well-structured book that covers all of the important aspects of the husbandry and reproduction of these snake families. Scott has drawn on his extensive husbandry experience with these species to document a significant amount of up-to-date information, including much that has not been published to date. Additionally, his excellent photography, with over 400 colour images, provides important imagery for not only the species but all aspects related to husbandry.

The earlier chapters of the book include General Management, Housing, Feeding, Snake Bites and Envenomations and Breeding and Reproduction. Although many other husbandry books have similarly titled chapters, they typically do not go into the extensive detail seen here. As an example, for housing, Scott details all of the possible different enclosure possibilities, including their various designs, lighting, heating, furnishings and substrates, detailing the pros and cons of each. In the feeding section, he not only covers the dietary options, frequency and supplementation, he thoroughly details how to approach trick feeding and food refusal, a common scenario with small elapids.

Following this is an excellent chapter on Health and Diseases written by respected herpetological veterinarian Dr Robert Johnson. In this section, Dr Johnson details the common ailments and illnesses seen in elapid and colubrid snakes and measures that can be taken to prevent these. Once again, the images chosen substantially add to the understanding of these conditions. 

The second half of the book consists of the Species profiles. This chapter is broken down into individual species or genera, with each section usually consisting of 2–5 pages. Each details a brief description of the species, its wild habits and husbandry information, including housing, diet, breeding and venom properties. For many species, it is the first time that reproduction or husbandry information has been published outside of the scientific literature.

Overall, the book is well-written and informative and will certainly be a commonly referenced resource in the library of most Australian elapid and colubrid keepers. Due to this, there are only very few minor negative aspects to highlight in the book. One example is the extensive Contents section that could have been substantially reduced. Such minor details certainly do not detract from this book and the benefit it may have, especially to those keepers new to elapids and colubrids.

A worthwhile addition to any herpetological library.

Reviewed by Michael McFadden


A Guide to Australian Snakes in Captivity, Elapids and Colubrids

Published by Reptile Publications, 192pp, RRP $75 plus P&H


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