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» Books

Books & Other Information

There are a limited number of books here so far - if you'd like to, you can submit a review.

This page lists various books relevant to newts and salamanders. Each has a small review of what it contains (the review author's name or initials are at the beginning or end of each review). It should be noted that not all of these books are English Language. The books have been divided into sections as follows:

Beginners' Books

Frank Indiviglio "Newts and Salamanders: a Complete Pet Owner's Manual", 1997, Barron's Educational Series.
Of all of the beginner's books that I have read, this is one of the most accurate and easier to read.  The author gives good basic information about maintaining animals in captivity and he describes a number of different species, along with their specific needs.  Frank Indiviglio shows that he has a great deal of practical knowledge of  Caudates and this book is a good buy for anyone new to the hobby  looking for a book that covers a lot of salamanders. 8/10 - (JC)

John Coborn "Amphibians", 2000, T.F.H. Publications.
(Review by Neil France)  This new edition takes some of its content from an earlier Coborn book "Salamanders and Newts"' (see review below), but also includes anurans in its content, and therefore the relevant information to specialist caudate keepers is diluted accordingly.  "Amphibians", in keeping with most TFH publications, has a wealth of excellent colour photographs (although a number appear to have been enhanced), along with a few factual inaccuracies.  The information on each species mentioned is somewhat scant, and could only act as to point the prospective keeper to seek further information elsewhere.  As a result, I was really unsure as to which section of the hobby it was aimed at, beginner or the more advanced.  Housing, nutrition, captive breeding and care are all examined, but again a lack of depth is its main failing.  Overall, however, it's worth taking a look at just for the quality of the photos.

John Coborn "Salamanders and Newts... as a Hobby", 1993, T.F.H. Publications.
This is a beginners book on Salamanders and Newts.  It is fairly basic, but it does give a reasonable grounding in how to take care of the easier species.  Like most TFH books, it's far from being very accurate, so don't rely solely on the information here. 5/10 - (JC)

Multiple Species Books

Trevor Beebee and Richard Griffiths "Amphibians and Reptiles: A Natural History of the British Herpetofauna", 2000, Harper Collins.
(Review by Neil France)  The authors of this excellent book have used some very up to date research in bringing the study of British herpetofauna into the new century.  In the early sections, colonisation following the last Ice Age is discussed, explaining the relative paucity in British species numbers in relation to the near continent.  Basic biology of amphibians and reptiles is covered before the main sections on the animal orders.  The 7 species of native amphibian along with the 6 species of reptile each have a very comprehensive section, which covers behaviour, reproduction, life-history, population ecology, habitat and distribution.  The book concludes with two chapters which chart the effect man has had on the native species.  The chapter on aliens, from the apparently benign species which were just too slow to have made it across the land bridge before sea levels rose, to the trans-continental introductions which should have no place in the British countryside, are all given a page or so.  The devastating effect of the change in land usage in the 20th century and its results make quite grim reading, but the book concludes with a more up-beat section on recent conservation efforts.  It contains over 80 black and white line drawings and illustrations along with 31 colour plates.  My only criticism is, that given the relatively small number of subjects, each should command a full-page plate to itself rather than squeezing 3 or 4 on to a single page.

William E. Duellman and Linda Trueb "Biology of Amphibians", 1994, Johns Hopkins University Press.
This book is a must for those interested in amphibian biology and is viewed as the standard Amphibian Text Book for science students and professionals.  There are diagrams, statistics, photographs (black and white) and information from the combined research of many hundreds of scientists around the world.  This book isn't bedtime reading, but if you'd like to know a great deal about what makes amphibians tick, this is the book for you. 10/10 - (JC)

Richard Griffiths "The Newts and Salamanders of Europe", 1996, T & AD Poyser.
Written for a similar audience to Petranka's book below, this book is about a fifth of the length of Petranka's because Griffiths writes about his subjects in a combined sense rather than with very detailed accounts of each species.  In fact, the species section reserves only 1-2 pages per species.  However, this doesn't detract much from the book itself.  Instead, the Author prefers to compare and contrast throughout the book, which works quite well.  This is the most detailed book about European salamanders that I know of.  Although the species covered are European, it does mention species in other parts of the world when talking about evolution and when making comparisons. Not enough photos though! 8.5/10 - (JC)

James W. Petranka "Salamanders of the United States and Canada", 1998, Smithsonian Institute Press.
This beautiful hard back book is currently the best book about the salamanders in the US and Canada.  Petranka approaches the subject of salamanders from an ecological and ethological viewpoint.  Each individual species' characteristics, habitats, biology and many other aspects are described in great detail.  From the hobbyist's point of view, this book is a good guide for field trips and it also describes conditions that each animal is used to in the wild so that we might better maintain and breed them in captivity.  Containing lovely photographs, pictures and diagrams, my only gripe is that the photos don't fill the full width of the pages.  However, I can't recommend this book more highly. 10/10 - (JC)

Marc Staniszewski "Amphibians in Captivity", 1995, TFH Publications.
Despite some inaccuracies, this book is definitely the best English language text about captive amphibians and deserves a place on every hobbyist's bookshelf.  Any attempt to write an all-encompassing text like this could quite reasonably be expected to fall short of perfection, especially when judging other "general amphibian" texts out there.  This book is, for the most part, an exception to the rule.  Not only does it cover the usual species information such as size and feeding, it also fills in many of the gaps that other books leave, such as the longevity of each species. 544 pages may seem like a lot, but unlike many other "general" amphibian books, there is no filler.  Nearly the first 200 pages deal with various aspects of amphibian natural history and captive care in fine detail (for example there are over 30 pages on feeding alone as well as the individual notes on feeding for each species, and over 40 on housing, and this isn't "filler"), followed by about 350 pages on species care covering the Caecilians, Salamanders and Anurans, in that order.  Though a bit expensive, it has no equal in its field in the English language. (7.5/10). - (JC)

Robert Thorn and Jean Raffaëlli "Les Salamandres de l'Ancien Monde" ["The Salamanders of the Old World"], 2001, Societé Nouvelle des Editions Boubée Paris.
This French language book is the updated and improved version of Robert Thorn's classic 1968 text, "Les Salamandres".  This new text is quite possibly the best all-round work for Caudata enthusiasts.  Each species is described in detail, under  such topics as synonyms, description, colouration, “diagnosis”, larvae, distribution, habitat, natural behaviour/ethology and briefly, their care requirements in captivity.  This text is pitched at a fairly advanced level, seemingly for the advanced hobbyist/enthusiast who doesn’t have access to scientific literature.  It’s easily the most accurate text that also includes captive care information, and that's taking into account other texts that I know of in English, French and German.  The approach of describing the wild animal rather than the captive, and then providing notes on captive care, is without doubt the best way to write in this subject area.  The only criticism that I can level at the book is that there are too few photographs and most species are, unfortunately, left out of the photo section.  The book is 449 pages long and it is packed from cover to cover with pertinent information.  The references section is a veritable map of the best salamander articles around.  Highly recommended (9.5/10). - (JC)

Single Species Books


Peter W. Scott "Axolotls", 1981, T.F.H. Publications.
Later reissued as "Axolotls: Care and Breeding in Captivity", 1995, T.F.H. Publications.

This book begins by describing the Axolotl's obscure name and significance and goes on to cover its feeding, housing, breeding, genetics and diseases.  If you're new to the hobby and the Axolotl is your thing, this is the book for you. 
The first edition was hard-backed, and although well illustrated, many of the photos were poorly printed and obscure.  The second edition is a paper back, and contains many of the photos of the original (but in much higher quality), plus many many new pictures and photos.  The text however, is exactly the same, as far as I can see.  If you have a copy of the original, I would advise that you don't bother investing in the new edition unless you would like the new pictures. 7/10 - (JC)

Various contributors, edited by John B. Armstrong and George M. Malacinski, "Developmental Biology of the Axolotl", 1989, Oxford University Press.
This has to be the definitive book about Axolotls.  John B. Armstrong was the director of the University of Ottawa's Axolotl Colony until it was disbanded and George M. Malacinski is the faculty director of the Indiana University's Axolotl Colony.  Indiana University could quite rightly be viewed as the second home of the Axolotl.  It was there, in the late 1960s that the Albino form of the Axolotl was developed.
This book is all encompassing; its twenty five chapters are primarily aimed at scientists who work with axolotls, but for the keen hobbyist, it contains quite a few chapters of interest, including the most in-depth account of the Axolotl's origins and history.  The third section concentrates on the practicalities of maintaining Axolotls, and elsewhere in the book are chapters on genetics (one looking at Axolotl genetics in general, and others looking at specific categories or individual genes and their effects), metamorphosis and even an entire chapter devoted to the lateral line system.  The only downsides to this book are that it lacks colour photographs and that it's selective in which aspects of the axolotl it covers. 8.5/10 - (JC)

Video Reviews

Charles Snell "Succeeding with Newts", 1994.  Running Time:  105 minutes.  Language:  English.
(Review by Neil France)  Videos dedicated to newts and salamanders seem as rare as hen's teeth, so to come across one filmed by an enthusiastic herpetologist who specialises in the genus Triturus was a great find.  Four years in the making, despite this being an amateur production the quality of the photography is generally very good and it's accompanied by a knowledgeable narrative.  This makes 'Succeeding with Newts' an enjoyable and educational watch.
The video is split roughly into two parts.  The opening section shows detailed observations of the 3 native UK Triturus species, (T. cristatus, T. helveticus and T. vulgaris), in clean and attractively laid out aquaria.  Courtship, egg-laying and egg development are covered comprehensively.  Excellent footage of 3 Northern European species T. alpestris, T. marmoratus and T. vittatus is also included, with a magnificent male Banded being the star of the show.  This section, along with the life cycle of the newts, is completed with close-up photography of feeding time in a mixed tank of the young of the larger species (Crested, Banded, Marbled and Alpine).
The second section is dedicated to the design and production of escape proof vivaria of the indoor and outdoor variety, for housing both caudates and anurans.  A number of new and ongoing conservation projects are shown, along with outlines of future video productions.
As it was completed in 1994, some of the closing details are now out of date, but this video is still a very worthwhile addition to any newt keeper's library.

Copies cost £17 + £1.50pp/$28 + $6 shipping/€27 + €5 shipping, from:
Charles Snell
27 Clock House Rd
Kent BR3 4JS
Tel +44(0)20 8402 3570
email or

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