Reptilien und Amphibien Europas (Axel Kwet)

Otterwoman

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Reptilien und Amphibien Europas by Axel Kwet (Stuttgart: Kosmos, 2005) 252 pp.

The last time I was in Germany was November 2006, for my brother’s wedding. There’s only so much you can do for fun in the midst of wedding preparations and in November, but I managed to visit the Berlin zoo and play on my brother’s computer. I looked up German amphibian books, and found a reference to this, and made it my quest to get a copy somewhere in Berlin. Not as easily done as I’d thought. But I finally tracked one down a few blocks from the Hauptbahnhof and spent the rest of the week reading it over and over.(*)

It’s just a guidebook, with pictures and brief information, but really great pictures, and a fair bit of information. Each entry includes a distribution map, species description, habitat, subtypes, and species information. The book did not skimp on salamanders. Here is a page-number round-up: Salamanders: 35 pages; Frogs: 57 pages; Turtles: 14 pages; Lizards etc.: 71 pages, and Snakes: 41 pages.

I loved learning the German words for the anatomical parts of amphibians and the names of the familiar newt species in German.(**) After reading so many US guides to amphibians, this was all so...well…foreign. It was just like being on a completely different continent!

I had hours and hours of fun with this book. The salamander section became my wish list. I wanted a Feuersalamander (Salamandra salamandra), an Alpenmolch (Triturus alpestris), a Teichmolch (Triturus vulgaris), a Kammmolch (Triturus cristatus), a Donaukammmolch (Triturus dobrogicus), and a Marmormolch (Triturus marmoratus). It was only a few months later I met Michael Shrom and made two of those dreams come true.

As you can imagine, I was a big hit at the wedding, running around sharing my recently acquired hobby with relatives I hadn’t seen in 5 years, polishing off all the half-started, abandoned champagne flutes (hey, we paid good money for that stuff!), and confidently representing the normalcy of the American branch of the family.

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*I did not know either Daniel or Eva at this time, otherwise, I'd have been able to add them to the "people I've met" thread.

**In addition, their word for “adder” is “Otter” (in addition for their word for “otter” being “Otter,” or “Fischotter”) and so they have horny otters, sand otters, snub-nosed otters, mountain otters, and meadow otters.
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Available in Germany for 19,95 Euros; on amazon.de starting at 16,20 Euros,
and even on (US) amazon.com starting at $27.31 (not available in translation).
 

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