Hi and welcome to my review of Snakes!
Snakes is a new coffee table book from my favourite non-fiction publisher, Amber Books, who already taught me all about cats, dogs, horses, strange animals, Norway, Japan, Africa, the wild and various hidden places as well endangered places around the globe.
I have always found snakes to be intriguing creatures so I jumped at the chance to read Snakes by Julianna Photopoulos and I had a ball learning more about these fascinating animals. As with all of the coffee table books I’ve read from Amber Books, fun facts accompany the most beautiful photos and Snakes was just a joy to read and look at.
I was hugely surprised at how snakes’ appearance can vary: there’s a blind European snake that looks like an earthworm, there are snakes with cat eyes, ones with vertical-slit pupils and ones with round pupils, there are snakes with tentacles and ones with horns in all forms and sizes, snakes that look like they have bristly hair, ones that look like they have eyelashes, ones that seem to be wearing spectacles and ones whose eyes make up about a quarter of their head.
This is clearly a very diverse species and some snakes are just drop dead gorgeous. There is a magnificent photo of a Madagascar tree boa, a really impressive banded krait, a stunning blood python, a beautiful pit viper (that’s its actual common name, but it is in fact beautiful), a stunningly colourful blotched palm-pit viper and an Indonesian pit viper, which is strikingly blue. I also greatly admired the photos of the skeletons, a snake is basically a head with a spine and hundreds of floating ribs.
I learned that some snakes can’t see very well so they have pit organs: openings lining their lips that help them “see” the heat of their warm-blooded prey. I learned that there are sea snakes, one of which is named after a Belgian naturalist (the Dubois’ sea snake), incidentally the most venomous sea snake in the world, and that the black mamba is not black at all, it is named for its black mouth which it shows when it feels threatened.
Even though I love snakes, a few photos did give me the heebie-jeebies: one where an African rock python is devouring a gazelle, and it looks eerily like a gazelle wearing a snake coat, and the mating / breeding ball photos, because apparently I’m fine with looking at one snake but seeing a bunch of them crawling over each other creeps me out 🤷🏼♀️
I would definitely recommend Snakes to readers of any age who want to learn more about these fascinating animals.
Snakes is out in hardcover on 14 June.
Massive thanks to Amber Books and NetGalley for the eARC. All opinions are my own.