View Full Version : Book Review: Amphibians of Eastern and Central North America, by the Bartletts

3rd May 2008, 11:56
Guide and Reference to the Amphibians of Eastern and Central North America (North of Mexico) by R.D. Bartlett and Patricia P. Bartlett (University Press of Florida: 2006, 286 pages).

Here's where I make it up to the Bartletts for saying my piece about the "Designer Reptiles and Amphibians" book.
I have several good US field guides (Petranka, the New York guide, Bishop, Audubon, and this one) and I recommend owning them all. Petranka for its exhaustive and informative species accounts; Bishop, for that and for historical interest as well; the NY guide because I live there; and Audubon as a general guide. (As an aside, the Audubon guide is a little annoying in that no scientific name is attached to the pictures, just the common name, and you have to flip around to check the scientific name. Here, all the info is right at hand.)
The more field guides you have, the more salamanders you can identify, as they are never exhaustive. Even if they are exhaustive, variation among individuals is so great that it can't hurt to have as many example pictures as possible. (By the way, can anyone tell me how to pronounce "ouachitae"? it hurts when I try. [Get the joke? but it's a serious question.])

Where was I...oh yeah, variation within a species. This book has more pictures of slimy salamanders than you can shake a stick at--13, in fact. (The Audubon book, for a contrast, has two). There are 14 pictures of mud, spring and red salamanders, which I have a hard time telling apart, even when they are clearly labeled. The Audubon has nine.

I like the stories they put in here and there--accounts of their own field herping experiences, which are not only entertaining, but instructive.

Though "[t]his book is intended solely as an identification guide[,]" they say a few important words on captive care which are relevant to field herping (when picking animals up, wash your hands before and after to avoid harming the animals with insecticides, perfumes, lotions, etc, which may be on your skin; never re-release into the wild). A simple key precedes the frog section, which is followed by the salamander/newt section, and which actually has more pages than the former.

I know the frog section is good because my touchstone is Couch's Spadefoot, and he's there.
Each entry has a picture (great pictures), range map, habitat description, description of identifying features, and a note on similar species--everything you could want in a guidebook, except the magic word to make the specimen come out of hiding and greet you.

Highly recommended and available on Amazon, new at $22.76 used from $14.98.

3rd May 2008, 16:56
Good review Dawn! I wish there were more US guides available here.

It's pronounced wah-shu-tae I believe :hat:.