29 March 2009

Cronin's Key Guide

Australian Reptiles & Frogs
by Leonard Cronin

Allen & Unwin. Adult Non fiction, Australian. Paperback rrp $35.00

This is the fifth book in the Cronin Key Guide series and follows the same successful format. Author Leonard Cronin, a former English biologist, is now an established authority on the reptiles and frogs of his adopted country. The text is simple to read and understand for the lay person and enthusiast alike. References are easy to locate and the line drawings are clear and readily identifiable.

The book deals with lizards, frogs, snakes, crocodiles and turtles, focusing on the most commonly found species and carefully including a cross-section from different families. For each species examined there is a distribution map, a coloured drawing, description and notes on behaviour, habitat, development and diet.

Of particular interest to me was the information about the International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List threat status of each animal, showing their degree of risk. As Cronin points out, Australia has 38 threatened reptile species and 47 threatened amphibians. This appalling statistic is only exceeded by six Latin American countries. A valuable message for us all.

So who is this book for? My family definitely but then not everyone lives in a house with lizards, frogs and snakes – inside and outside. It also is a valuable reference for bushwalkers, reptile enthusiasts, nature lovers, pet owners and every parent who has to answer the question: What’s that?

Recommended for the home and school library bookshelf.

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