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Old 29th April 2008   #1
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Default Book Review: Designer Reptiles and Amphibians (the Bartletts)

Book Review: Designer Reptiles and Amphibians, by R.D. Bartlett and Patricia Bartlett (Barron’s Educational Series, 2002, 95 pages).

Here's a new twist on herpetocultural book topics, an entire book on designer morphs. I was excited by the title and bought this online. If I had been able to peruse it or read a helpful review like this one, I would have passed.
This book promises more than it delivers. Like Gray's book, it is too general and tries to cover too many subjects, and ends up not really doing any of them justice.
The book provides a simplistic introduction to the principles of genetics, dominant and recessive traits, and a definition of terms such as hybrid, intergrade, leucism, etc. But I have cornsnakes, and I've read a bit about morphs in this species, and I can say that it doesn't really begin to cover what's out there as far as cornsnakes goes. I'm going to guess and say this is probably true for the other species as well.

Most importantly for our purposes, salamanders. The book is very light on amphibians. Any book that's 96 pages of ‘Reptiles and Amphibians (Anything)’, but then has only 6 pages on amphibians, is pulling your gill.
Now, anyone who has been to a Reptile Expo knows about designer reptiles: corns, pythons, leopard geckos, there's a lot of variety there. But amphibians? All they have to tell us about are some albino frogs , and axolotls, which have been bred in captivity, and of some rare occurrences of albino tigers and plethodontids that have only been found in nature. I don't consider albinos to be a designer animal; this is a far cry from information on "selective breeding of color morphs" that is promised on the cover.
However, if they'd waited a few more years, they could have included "GFP" (green fluorescent protein) axolotls (see GFP Axolotls Video - Newt and Salamander Forum), now THAT’S “designer.”
And of course, this was written before we had Jay Sommer's leucistic ribbed newt project (update on leucistic ribbed newt project - Newt and Salamander Forum) or Russ Cormack's albino Aneides lugubris (Albino Aneides lugubris - Newt and Salamander Forum and see also here). And I'm adding the recently posted leucistic ensatina here for completeness: Leucistic Ensatina - Newt and Salamander Forum as well as this leucistic T. carnifex: Newt and Salamander Forum
erythristic lissotriton vulgaris
albino green salamander
albino aneides
A. maculatum

I hate to say this about a book by the Bartlett's, because they've done so much other fine work (for example, Guide and Reference to the Amphibians of Eastern and Central North America, which I like very much). They take EXCELLENT pictures, and have contributed greatly to the field.
But since I'm a nobody in the field, I'm not worried about getting people mad at me. And, just to make perfectly clear, this review is solely my own opinion and in no way reflects the views of anyone else on the forum, unless they choose to say so.
So if you want to know about designer amphibians, don't bother. If you want to read about corn snake morphs, or about corn snake anything, I recommend Kathy and Bill Love's Corn Snakes: The Comprehensive Owner's Guide (AVS:/The Herpetocultural Library, 2005). If you want to read about any other reptiles, you're on your own.

Addendum: There are six pages of pictures on a variety of "Colours patterns and colour morphs" (pp. 21-26) in Salamanders: Keeping and Breeding.
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Last edited by Otterwoman; 29th December 2016 at 00:45. Reason: added more albinos
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