Paperback - March 2012 - AU $14.95 On sale until 31-Mar usually AU $29.95

Comprehensive introduction to the biology and natural history of snakes.

Whether loathed, feared, admired or worshipped, snakes evoke stronger human reactions than almost any other animal. Moving gracefully without limbs, swallowing meals often several times larger than their own heads, and with many having venomous bites, they never fail to fascinate. + Full description

From garter snakes and vipers to boas and pythons, Snakes describes the biology and natural history of this ecologically important group of animals. Natural History Museum expert David Gower together with Katherine Garrett, have updated Peter Stafford’s original text, highlighting the variety and complexity of a group which includes almost 3,000 living species. Information on habitat, conservation status, and unusual behaviour is also included.

Stunningly illustrated throughout, this comprehensive introduction to the snakes of the world shows that they are an important group of animals that should be valued and admired rather than feared and hated.

- Short description


Paperback | March 2012 | $ 29.95
ISBN: 9780565092665 | 128 pages | 253 x 192 mm
Publisher: The Natural History Museum, London
Colour photographs


  • Comprehensive introduction to the biology and natural history of snakes
  • Revised and reformatted edition with stunning new colour images and up-to-date text
  • Worldwide coverage, with the use of examples from around the globe


PART ONE – Structure and Lifestyle
The origins and fossil records of snakes
Temperature regulation
Feeding and diet
Predator evasion and defence
PART TWO – The Evolutionary Tree and Classification of Snakes
PART THREE – Snake Diversity
Scolecophidia: Worm, blind and thread snakes
Aniliidae, Cylindrophiidae, Anomochilidae and Uropeltidae: Pipe snakes and shieldtails
Loxocemidae and Xenopeltidae: Sunbeam snakes
Boidae and Pythonidae: Boas and pythons
Bolyeriidae and Xenophiidae: Round Island ‘boas’ and spine-jawed snakes
Tropidophiidae: Dwarf ‘boas’
Acrochordidae: Asian/Australian file snakes
Xenodermatidae: Strange-skinned snakes
Pareatodae: Slug snakes
Viperidae: Vipers
Homalopsidae: Mud snakes
Elapidae: Cobras, coral snakes, kraits, taipans and sea snakes
Lamprophiidae: The major radiation of African snakes
Colubridae: Racers and garter, rat, cat, tree, reed and water snakes and relatives


Dr David Gower is an organismal biologist at the Natural History Museum, London, whose expertise lies in caecilian amphibians and Triassic archosaurian reptiles as well as snakes. He has written and contributed to numerous papers, reports and popular science books on the subject.

Long interested in amphibians and reptiles, Katherine Garrett works in the Botany Department of the Natural History Museum. She is a member of the Museum’s Herpetology Research Group and has participated in several herpetological field projects.

A world-renowned herpetologist, Peter Stafford was involved in the study of the biology of snakes for many years until his untimely death in 2009. He was a curator and biologist at the Natural History Museum and the editor of the British Herpetological Society Bulletin from 2000 to 2009. He wrote and co-authored several books on herpetology, including The Adder and A Guide to the Reptiles of Belize.