Book Review: Newt and Salamanders: A Complete Pet Owner's Manual (Indiviglio)

Otterwoman

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If Amphibians in Captivity seems too long to you, or if you want something you can carry in your purse or coat pocket to read on-the-run, then Frank Indiviglio's Newts and Salamanders is the way to go (New York: Barron's Educational Series, 1997, new at $7.99; used on Amazon starting at 75¢).
No space is wasted; even at only 128 pages, the conservatively sized font indicates that this is a book that means to teach you something. Its wealth of information belies its compact size.
When I read this I remember being impressed that the author does not talk down to the reader despite its being an introductory book. He assumes a respect that says he knows that only an intelligent person would be reading this book, and that the reader, the hobbyist, can also make contributions to the science and conservation of amphibians. And though by the time I'd picked up this book I'd read quite a few introductory salamander books (every one I could lay my hands on, in fact) this one contained a lot of very detailed information I hadn't come across before. Some of the things I learned are, for example, a few of the many areas of scientific research in which sals are used: axolotls to study embryology; there are antibiotic properties to amphibian skin secretions; how some amphibians use glucose to tolerate freezing temperatures.
Many of you know that P. cinereus females rate their males' fitness according to the quality of their feces, but also I'm sure that many of you do not. I first read of it in this book.
The book includes an intro to salamander classification and characteristics, biology and behaviors. Also there are sections on creating captive habitats, nutrition and feeding, health, and choosing and obtaining sals.
The species accounts were especially helpful. There was more information on more species than in any other introductory book. Though not covering as many species as Amphibians in Captivity, his accounts are more up to date and comprehensive than those in Staniszewski's.

There are also a lot of helpful drawings and many wonderful pictures, including a hellbender eating its shed. Many of these introductory books recycle the photos from one to another, and though this book has a few, most of them are new. And there are many.

There were two anecdotes that amused me tremendously. One about how he accidentally filled the house with mosquitoes when he was a young experimenter, and the second was about his friend who has an axolotl with a saproneglia infection. This axolotl, however has been "living and thriving...for many years" "in the vegetable bin of his refrigerator...much to the dismay of the other members of the household." That is the first time I had ever heard of putting an animal in the fridge, and the fact that it lived there full time filled me with awe. I almost wanted one too. Can you imagine the fun? "Grab me a beer from the bottom drawer of the fridge, please?"

This is another book that I won't lend to anyone.

After I read this book, I was moved to write a "fan" letter to the author. Imagine my surprise when he actually emailed me back! And has continued to answer the other few times I've emailed him since.

I believe that you can't have too many books; even if a book only has one useful new idea, that idea is treasure enough. That is why, despite my growing pile of introductory newt/sal books, I bought yet another. So no matter how many books you have on newts/sals, get this one too. I'm sure that you'll find more than just one new idea.
 

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michael

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I agree with Dawn. Their is a lot packed in this little book. The author is a member of caudata.org
 

freves

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This is one of my first "go to" books when I have a basic question or am looking for information on a species that I am not familiar with. I would love to see an updated and expanded edition (cough cough Frank).
Chip
 

Jennewt

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Everyone who keeps newts or sals should read this book. If you only ever buy one book, this is the one.
 

Abrahm

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This was the first herp book I ever owned. After I met my girlfriend and learned that people keep amphibians (she had White's tree frogs) I went out to buy a guide. This was the book I stumbled upon at the local pet shop on my lunch break. I loved it.

The cover is a gorgeous picture of Pseudotriton ruber and there are tons of other nice pictures inside. The begining includes all the basics and there are desciptions and examples of different enclosure types. Food is documented in extensive detail and there is a nice overview of diseases. Species accounts and care information for a bunch of caudates make up the back of this book and made this neophyte caudataphile drool in anticipation. Throw in a couple of hilarious stories by the author and his excellent tone that seems to let you know he trusts you to do well with your new amphibian friends and you have a success.

After reading this book I was prepared to go out and buy my first animal. I'd recommend this book to anyone. It is a handy pocket guide to salamander keeping chock full of information. Plus you can get it for under $15 US.
 

John

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Frank has used our site quite a few times and in the communication I've had with him he has always been very helpful and friendly.
 

coendeurloo

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Must say I've never heard of it, can't believe I missed it. Will be on the lookout for this one, thanks Dawn.

Edit: ordered it on Amazon.com, 12 dollar incl. international shipping costs, super!
 
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michael

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Frank will be at That Fish Place / That Pet Place signing books for their 35th anniversary this weekend.
He stopped by my place on the way to Centerville.

Another caudata.org member,Dick Bartlett, did all of the photography for "Newts and Salamanders". How can you miss with a combination like that?
 

John

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Dick Bartlett mentions Caudata.org in his further reading section of his 25 best pet amphibians and reptiles book (all the petsmarts have it - that's where I saw it).
 

Neotenic_Jaymes

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This would of made a great christmas gift, since I didn't get it as a gift I'm going to get it myself. The way Dawn presented this book and knowing that the aurthor of the book is or has been a member of Caudata.org really intrigues me. I will get this book!
 

Azhael

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My former room-mate used to have this book and it has LOTS of good ideas. Sometimes the information was slightly out of date, but overall i thought this was a brilliant book.
 

Shadow

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I've seen that book in a couple of shops that I'm sometimes go to. I wonder if they have it at my local library.
 

Greatwtehunter

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I have to agree that this book is a must have. I still find myself going through it at least once a week, needless to say it's quite worn out. In all honestly, who couldn't resist staring at that Psuedotriton ruber nitidus thats on the cover.:p
 

Zeeman3000

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After discovering this thread on the home page yesterday and reading Dawn's review and hearing all the praise from everyone I rushed to amazon to order a copy for myself, and while I was snooping around I also came across Axolotls: Care and Breeding in Capitivity by Peter W. Scott, I am now anxiously awaiting the delivery of both my books, I can hardly wait to get my dirty paws all over them! I'll be sure to let everyone know what I think of the latter of the two books, although if anyone is interested, some information regarding the book can be found here http://www.axolotl.org/booksandlinks.htm, Happy New Year folks :cool:
 

IanF

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Just bought this book today.:happy:
Can't wait to read it, it looks VERY interesting. I've never seen more than 1 or 2 pages dedicated to Salamanders so this is great.
Thanks for sharing this book Dawn, I'd never heard of it before.
 

findi

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Hello, Frank Indiviglio here.

I would like first to apologize in taking so long to view the very generous comments posted about my book...Dawn was kind enough to draw my attention to it...much appreciated, Dawn. Thank you all so much, it is especially gratifying to hear from such an interested and well-informed group.

Several people mentioned the P. r. nitidus photo on the front cover...an animal of that species in my collection is now approaching 30 years of age!

A new edition of the book will be published within the next year or so...it will have many new photos, but, per publishers new guidelines, a good deal less text....well, hopefully we can cover some of the deleted matters here.

I' writing weekly amphibian/reptile/invertebrate articles at http://blogs.thatpetplace.com/thatreptileblog/ - care, natural history, field notes, conservation, recollections and so on. Please take a look if you have a moment - questions/comments welcomed.

I will do my best to participate more often on this wonderful site.

Thanks again and best regards to all, Frank
 

i_love_necturus

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Frank, great book, I use it very often. It too is the first (and only) amphibian care book that I own. I can't wait for a new edition. This is my prime reference for care before checking anywhere else. I like the blog also.
 

Jennewt

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...it will have many new photos, but, per publishers new guidelines, a good deal less text...
I can't tell you how disappointed I am to hear this. But I thank you for your post.
 
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