View Full Version : Book Review: Amphibian Medicine & Captive Husbandry (Wright and Whitaker)

15th May 2008, 02:51
Amphibian Medicine and Captive Husbandry
by Wright & Whitaker

It's a bit daunting to write a review of a book of this magnitude. I was recently asked "is this book worth the money?", so I'm going to turn my reply to that question into a review. There is a lot to say about this book, so I hope some other people will chime in with comments.

Here is the book's listing on Amazon. (http://www.amazon.com/Amphibian-Medicine-Captive-Husbandry-Whitaker/dp/0894649175/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1210810962&sr=1-1)

Here is a list of the chapters:
1. Evolution of the amphibia
2. Taxonomy of amphib kept in captivity
3. Anatomy for the clinician
4. Applied physiology
5. Amphib husbandry and housing
6. Diets for captive amphib
7. Nutritional disorders
8. Clinical techniques
9. Restraint techniques and euthanasia
10. Clinical microbiology of amphib for the exotics practice
11. Amphib hematology
12. Water quality
13. Bacterial diseases
14. Mycoses
15. Protozoa and metazoa infecting amphib
16. Clinical toxicology
17. Trauma
Color Plates (photos of sick amphibians:cry:, and a few healthy ones:D)
18. Idiopathic syndromes
19. The amphib eye
20. Diagnostic imaging of amphib
21. Surgical techniques
22. Reproduction
23. Quarantine
24. Pharmacotherapies
25. Necropsy
26. Spontaneous neoplasia in amphib
27. Pathology of amphib

The book is written by veterinarians, so it's obvious strong point is that it is research-based. It also includes personal experiences, based on zoo work. It's other strength is that it is a HUGE book (~500 large pages) with an enormous amount of information, and it's the only book about medicine specifically for amphibians. Anyone who who is willing to spend time reading WILL learn some important things.

The book has some weaknesses, from my point of view. (1) Most of the information is about frogs (not surprising). (2) None of the anecdotal literature about axolotls published in newsletters of the Axolotl Colony is included; thus, there is very little information about the use of salt or reduced temperature as treatments, and almost no specific information about axolotls, despite their commonness in captivity. (3) The treatment information is very "medical"; none of it is presented in a step by step manner, or as a list of options, or in a way that is easy for hobbyists to follow. All the treatment information depends upon having an exact diagnosis, which is unfortunately beyond the ability of hobbyists, and even beyond many vets who aren't specialists. Research results rarely translate into specific treatment recommendations, and this is painfully obvious as one reads this book. (4) It has some omissions. It states that there are 9 families of Caudata (I suppose this could be justified, as the omitted Rhyacotritonidae are not found in captivity, but it is not stated with this caveat.) The list of common names is far too short, missing at least half of what should be listed; for a book focusing on captive husbandry and purporting to help non-specialist veterinarians, this seems unfortunate. (5) The indexing is mediocre. I often remember something I have read somewhere in this book and cannot find it in the index. For example, the book has guidelines for heat-treating and cold-treating soil for use in vivaria, but you'll never find this by looking in the index!

I know some people have been disappointed after paying a lot of money for this book and not finding exactly what they wanted to know. Some buy this book hoping to learn more about how to treat sick amphibians. While the information they need may actually be there, it is not presented in a way that is easy to find or accessible to the layman. It wasn't written as a how-to guide for hobbyists.

In summary, there is a huge amount to learn here, whatever your level of knowledge. Don't buy this book if you are just looking for information about treating a sick amphibian, or to get a quick answer to other questions. Do buy it to learn more about amphibians, and to have an authoritative reference regarding husbandry and medical issues. You will find it particularly useful if you have some background in biology or medicine.

15th May 2008, 09:58
The book is pretty technical but well worth the money if it helps you treat some sick salamanders. It's a must have for a serious hobbyist with a big collection. I've used it quite a bit. The follow up book is due out in late 2008. It is supposed to address some of the problems Jen mentioned including more practical husbandry info and axolotl info.