Book Review: Newts and Salamanders: A Complete Guide to Caudata by Devin Edmonds

freves

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Re: New Book: Newts and Salamanders: A Complete Guide to Caudata by Devin Edmonds

Good. Maybe I will swing by petsmart tomorrow and see if they have it.
Chip
 

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Re: New Book: Newts and Salamanders: A Complete Guide to Caudata by Devin Edmonds

Keeping-Axolotls-Linda-Adkins
I have high expectations for this book. I have two requirements of it. 1) At 64 pages it has little space to fill so I hope that it will be of a decent quality. 2) I dearly hope it's not a regurgitation of my web site and/or our forum. I would consider pulling the legal trigger on Interpet if number 2 is the case, win or lose.
 

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Re: New Book: Newts and Salamanders: A Complete Guide to Caudata by Devin Edmonds

When it arrives (looks like its released in September ) I'll let you know what I find. I am familiar with the style of book as Interpet do a series of 'pet care 'books.
 

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Re: New Book: Newts and Salamanders: A Complete Guide to Caudata by Devin Edmonds

Thanks Julia.
 

freves

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Re: New Book: Newts and Salamanders: A Complete Guide to Caudata by Devin Edmonds

2) I dearly hope it's not a regurgitation of my web site and/or our forum. I would consider pulling the legal trigger on Interpet if number 2 is the case, win or lose.

That is really my concern as well. I was just trying to state it in a nice way in my previous post.
Chip
 

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Re: New Book: Newts and Salamanders: A Complete Guide to Caudata by Devin Edmonds

I have high expectations for this book. I have two requirements of it. 1) At 64 pages it has little space to fill so I hope that it will be of a decent quality. 2) I dearly hope it's not a regurgitation of my web site and/or our forum. I would consider pulling the legal trigger on Interpet if number 2 is the case, win or lose.

I read it tonight at work and started my review; hope to have it up monday (need to type up my thoughts and organize them). The type is small, so it has a lot of info. It's not 64 pages but 128. It's not a regurgitation of our site. It has some great chapters, and some OK ones.

I just checked his profile because my guess is from the book that he personally keeps plethodontids and Fire sals, but he doesn't list his "species kept." So much for my little theory.
 

onetwentysix

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Re: New Book: Newts and Salamanders: A Complete Guide to Caudata by Devin Edmonds

Devin doesn't keep anything at the time, as far as I'm aware; I think he's in Madagascar right now doing some work on Mantellas, and he sold or gave away most of his animals I believe. I've met him three or four times, and I think in the past all he'd ever kept were some WI natives and I think he did have some fire salamanders at some point. He was pretty interested in Necturus, Sirens, and the like, but never kept any. I gave him some P. waltl eggs at one point, but I don't think they did very well for him.

Ultimately though, he was pretty surprised to have been asked to do the book; he's known as a pretty big deal as far as Mantellas go, but figured he'd probably been asked to do the book because of his website and that he'd also written a tree frog book for the same company.

Still, he's a real nice guy, pretty knowledgeable about amphibians in general (he's not just some guy off the street; he's extremely qualified for a number of amphibian groups), and I'm sure he did his research well. He did some photographing at my house early last year (unfortunately, I was preparing to move at the time, and as such I don't know that he got many nice shots), and he asked me a number of questions through e-mail periodically, and I believe he talked with some other salamander keepers as well. I haven't seen the book myself, and while I think a lot of people might agree that he might not have been the best person to write a book on salamanders, I'm pretty confident that he'll have done a good job. Ultimately, his goal wasn't to really write something for experts, etc., but something for beginners beyond the basic animal care books you see in pet shops.

Just my take on things; I haven't seen the book but have spent a good deal of time talking to him in the past.
 

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Re: New Book: Newts and Salamanders: A Complete Guide to Caudata by Devin Edmonds

He credits you in the book Peter.
 

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Re: New Book: Newts and Salamanders: A Complete Guide to Caudata by Devin Edmonds

When it arrives (looks like its released in September ) I'll let you know what I find. I am familiar with the style of book as Interpet do a series of 'pet care 'books.

After reading this thread, I ordered a used copy from an English source via Amazon UK's bookdealer list. Delivery is promised this month.
 

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My Review

I put a rush on it; so it could be more polished, and I had no time to think of any Harry Potter jokes.


Newts and Salamanders: A Complete Guide to Caudata (TFH Publications, 2009) by Devin Edmonds, 128 pp.

There has not been a new care guide for a while, and this book was eagerly anticipated. In short, it is a good book, full of nice pictures, with some excellent chapters and some adequate chapters. Edmond’s information is current and it’s clear that he is enthusiastic about the hobby and cares deeply about the subject.
The book is full of pictures and sidebars to keep you visually entertained, and the pictures are not recycled from previous TFH books.
The print is small enough to pack a lot of information in.

There are ten chapters; chapter 1 is an introduction to salamanders and newts, their taxonomy, general biology, habits, ecology (including habitat destruction and chytrid fungus), and acquisition. It is a well-done introduction, and balances the needs of reader interest and presentation of facts.
He advocates the two best ways of acquiring a herp, with which I believe we would all agree- without going into a debate, he guides the reader to either self-collection or purchasing from a captive breeder.
At least three times during the book he warns against introducing pathogens into the environment by never releasing captives back into the wild, even to the same area you might have originally acquired them.

Chapter two is an interesting and insightful discussion of housing. This is a very helpful chapter with good pictures; he discusses the wide range of conditions necessary for different species, aggression among newts, and spends a lot of time on relevant water quality issues. I liked his vinegar test for determining if a rock is safe for your aquarium: a few drops on a rock will sizzle if the rock is unsafe (p. 24).

After I read this chapter on housing, I thought, “Whoa, Indiviglio has a challenge to the supremacy of his Newts and Salamanders on his hands.” When I finished chapters 3-5, though, I thought, “No, he doesn’t, after all.” Housing is the best chapter in the book and really impressed me, but the following chapters on food, breeding, and health did not match that breadth of subject treatment.
Indiviglio’s is still the definitive short book on caudate care, in my opinion, for its consistent excellence through all the chapters.


The chapter on foods (chapter 3) is adequate, but I think he could have said a bit more about earthworms, their virtues, cutting them up, and the various kinds.
He mentions mealworms, but not about nipping their heads off. Nor did he mention springtails or whiteworms, and bloodworms just in passing in this chapter. Springtails are never even mentioned until the chapter on Plethodontids. It would have been more organized and helpful to mention all the foods in the food chapter and discuss them by size rather than sprinkle food nuggets throughout the book, which kind of defeats the purpose of having a whole chapter on foods. Then when a specific type of food is mentioned, though appropriate for the animals in the chapters in which they occur, the information could more easily be applied to other species.

In chapter 4 (breeding), he talks about the many variables that come into play (temperature, light, moisture, migration). Here, he mentions whiteworms and states that are labor intensive to culture; I have found them among the easiest live foods I have tried to raise.

Health care (chapter 5) contains general, common sense information, and focuses on how things can happen rather than what to do about them (except for taking them to vet, in most instances).

Chapter 6 is a whole chapter dedicated to Cynops. He includes orientalis, pyrhrogaster, cyanurus, and ensicauda; I liked seeing them get their due with a chapter of their own. Five pages packed with information on their requirements, breeding, and raising the results.

Chapter 7 is reserved for Ambystoma. He selects five species to focus on (tiger, eastern tiger, spotted, marbled, and axolotl). He might have just done one of the tigers in exchange for a blue-spotted or something, but hey, everyone’s got to be a critic, eh? This chapter has a cool picture of an albino, and also of a “melantistic” [sic], maculatum.
Considering many books that have a whole chapter just on axies, it seemed odd to devote only 1/3 of a page exclusively to them, while having a whole chapter on Salamandra salamandra.

I liked the chapter on Plethodontids (ch 8) very much; it was comprehensive like the chapter on housing. His best chapters are on housing, Plethodontidae, and the following chapter on Fire Salamanders. My theory is that these are his three main interests. I guess I’ll never know if I’m right; since this isn’t the most effusive review, I don’t see him ever striking up a correspondence with me to set my curiosities at ease.

After reading the chapter on fire salamanders, I wanted to run out and get some, his enthusiasm is contagious. Again, he recommends captive bred over wild caught, both of which are available in the US pet trade.

In chapter 10 he treats the rest of the bookworthy commonly kept species: alpine newts, eastern newts, paddletail newts, warty newts, ribbed newts, rough-skinned newts, crested newts, marbled newts, crocodile newts (I love to type that word “newts”), and amphiumas. Personally I find Tylototriton and the many crested newts as worthy of their own chapter as fire salamanders would be, but the book’s strengths are clearly the author’s interests, which is a truism for life in general as well as newt and salamander books.

There are a few typos in the book; a few missed punctuation marks and “melantistic” for “melanistic” (as mentioned above); my favorite one is the back cover blurb, which does a nice job extolling the virtues of keeping newts and sals as well as plugging the book itself—until the amusing typo in the last sentence:
Newts and Salamanders will help you keep your frog healthy for all of his life.”
Hey, I’m an avid recycler too. ;)

Finally, the documentation: two full pages of references and resources.
Our own Jennifer Macke and her caudata culture site is not only a reference, but is also mentioned along with caudata.org and axolotl.org as resources. Several other websites are there as well. This is followed by a three page index.

The index was the tiniest print ever! Five more years and I’ll need a magnifying glass to read it; as it is, I had to remove my glasses and hold it up to my nose. Now you know how old I am.
The small size of the index print isn't really a criticism, just an opportunity for me to make fun of myself.

On the whole, I think Indiviglio’s book is still superior. However, this book is the same size as Indiviglio’s book, shares a title, and if you like to have more than one book on salamanders, will fit nicely on your shelf right next to his. It is a good resource and well worth reading.
 

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John

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Re: My Review

Thanks Dawn, this is much appreciated. Sounds like a very fair review. I was beginning to think that maybe TFH had gotten their act together in recent years but that healthy frog business has put that thought to death. (What I mean by that last sentence is that Devin's editors let him down)
 

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Re: New Book: Newts and Salamanders: A Complete Guide to Caudata by Devin Edmonds

I have high expectations for this book. I have two requirements of it. 1) At 64 pages ... 2) I dearly hope it's not a regurgitation


In rereading this thread I see I totally misunderstood the context of this post, I thought you were talking about the Edmonds book. Sorry!
 

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Re: Review: Newts and Salamanders: A Complete Guide to Caudata by Devin Edmonds

Hi Dawn
Which of Indiviglio’s books do you think is superior? I have his Newts and Salamanders: a complete pet owners manual, but want to check its a good one.
 

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Re: Review: Newts and Salamanders: A Complete Guide to Caudata by Devin Edmonds

no worries, just found your review of it and it is the same as what i've got!
 

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I just finished reading this book. All in all I agree with your review Dawn, it is not a bad little book at all. The information is up to date and the book itself is an easy read. My biggest complaint is also that many species were not given equal treatment and again I agree that this seems to be a product of the authors experience and preferences. The flip side to this complaint however is that I never got the impression that the author was trying to make himself an authority on species that he seems to have little experience with, and this is a nice change from the TFH publications of years past. The photographs were well done overall, and the one of the Pleurodeles has to be the one of most attractive ribbed newts that I have ever seen. I also liked the fact that many basic points were reiterated throughout the book, such as the need for cool temperatures. I definitely would recommend this book for anyone new to the hobby. After reading it I am really longing for a more extensive, english language, up to date work on caudate husbandry.
Chip
 

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I spent about 20 minutes reading this in a San Antonio Petsmart on Saturday. It was the first time I had seen it in person. Speaking about the complete account for Tylototriton verrucosus, I must disagree with you Chip in one respect - when someone describes how to keep and breed a species, putting numbers on things, etc, that person is inherently putting his or herself up as an expert. So when the account isn't right, I think the author should be held to account in places like this.

I am grateful to Devin for the links he gave us - I am very flattered. However the book just seemed to me like recycled information I've seen elsewhere, with very little new brought to the table. For a TFH book it's definitely among the best, but considering the mediocre quality of TFH books, that's not the greatest compliment :/.

Still, if a newbie does not have access to the Internet, then this would be one of the next sources to turn to. However I find myself wondering why people would buy books like this if they were already aware of Caudata.org and Caudata Culture.
 

freves

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I must disagree with you Chip in one respect - when someone describes how to keep and breed a species, putting numbers on things, etc, that person is inherently putting his or herself up as an expert. So when the account isn't right, I think the author should be held to account in places like this.

Well I certainly agree that a certain amount of expertise is implied anytime a book or article is written however I have learned over the years that sadly this is not always the case, at least with popular works. I suppose that you could consider me the type who likes to see the glass as half full. Still though, I understand your point. Again this brings me back to wishing for an in depth volume, preferably co-authored by the seasoned breeders who frequent this site.
Chip
 

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I thought it was a nice basic book. I agree with DawnO.'s review pretty much. I was excited to see it in my local Petsmart. Finally, a NEW book on caudates! I was thrilled to see so much devoted to Chinese firebelly newts. I keep those, and until this book, I really had not seen much but a blurb (or maybe a page) devoted to them in other books about amphibians. I did not see why I should purchase a book for a page of pertinent information. To me, this was a book worth buying! I discovered there was a lot of more helpful information throughout the book as well. I was very excited to see the references in the back to the sites I am familiar with. I hope it draws more people to check out the site here.

I also caught the frog reference on the back cover and thought "wait a minute here...":wacko: I see that I am not the only one who saw that.:D

I will have to look for the other amphibian book now that I know there is one out there. Does it mention CFN much in it and have updated information?

Have a great day,
Critter Mom
 
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