View Full Version : Book Review: Popular Amphibians (de Vosjoli)

29th April 2008, 13:37
Book Review: Popular Amphibians by Philippe de Vosjoli (AVS: The Herpetocultural Library, 2004)

This book is in a completely different class than the TFH books. I would say it's in a class by itself, but instead I'm going to say it's in the same class as Indiviglio's book. Here's an example of a book covering frogs and newts that (unlike Gray's book, reviewed earlier) will leave you qualified to begin to keep herps.

This book, written in 2004, treats issues that people did not appreciate when the books that I reviewed earlier were written. Perhaps then, when herps were not so popular, people were only concerned with getting them and not about wiping out natural populations--but the hobby lacked a sensitivity which is now, fortunately, widespread. Awareness of environmental issues has grown tremendously in recent decades.

People now think a lot about the ravages of mass collection and, as de Vosjoli says in the introduction, he intends in his book not only to "present the correct way to keep frogs, newts, and salamanders..." but he also "aims to raise consciousness and promote education." I think there may be a connection between font size and the author's desire to educate (cf. Indiviglio's book). In 120 pages, de Vosjoli achieves his aims.

De Vosjoli begins with a chapter stressing the need for proper researching before choosing your pet. He lists helpful questions for the incipient herp owner to ask themself. Next he discusses quarantine, setting up tanks, and presents five pages on water quality. There are only four pages on feeding, which I don't really find sufficient, though Staniszewski's book has totally spoiled me for feeding sections. I don't think he adequately stressed the importance of earthworms, which should probably be a staple in every (captive) salamander's diet.

Then comes a chapter on popular toads and frogs, and a chapter about popular newts and salamanders. I looked for my little friend, Couch's Spadefoot Toad, but he wasn't there. But I know nothing about that frog, like whether it's even a commonly kept species or not.

I found the species in his selection to be much more logical than Gray's. He covers Firebellies (Cynops spp.), Paramesotriton spp. (and, by the way, he says they can get along with axies); Pachytriton spp.; N. viridescens, Axolotls, Tiger Salamanders, and then also Eurycea longicauda, as an example of a less commonly kept species.

There's a chapter on diseases, which focuses on preventative maintenance. He does actually mention dosages for some antibiotics, which you don't find very often. A short chapter talks about mixing species, a hot button topic around here. He advises caution and common sense, and lists some combinations he was successful with. The final short chapter suggests small tanks in the work place as a stress-reliever, and tanks in the schoolroom for educational purposes.

There is a lot of good information in this book, which is occasionally quirky (i.e. stuff you might not come upon elsewhere). For example, he suggests using a manual boat bilge pump to change water; he tells why newts wrap their eggs singly in plant leaves (embryonic movement may attract predators, and this hides them), and finishes off the book with a paragraph about "Biosphere 2."

Again, I felt I'd learned a lot from reading this book, and I really got the feeling that the author was passionate about the well being and conservation of our rubbery little friends.

29th April 2008, 17:56
Good review Dawn. I agree that this is one of the best "how to" books on amphibians to come out in recent years. My only complaint is that, as I have already mentioned in other threads, Mr. DeVosjoli is a big advocate of mixed species enclosures. In this book he gives sound advice on mixing amphibians with fish however I disagree with mixing various caudates together. Now to his credit he presents this information from trials that he has personally done and, if I remember correctly, the aquarium sizes were rather large (80 gallons). My only fear is that a rank beginner will extrapolate from this justification for mixing inappropriate animals in much smaller tank sizes. All in all however, this is an excellent book and I highly recommend it.