Saturday, 28 February 2009

Recent books

A plethora of books dealing with the north-east rainforests have hit the markets recently and I thought it might be of interest to some of our international readers to learn about them.

Stick insects (Walking sticks in the US & Canada) are a prominent component of the Australian Insect fauna. Some 150 species have been described and it is expected that around 200 will be the total once the fauna is better known. But why stick insects? Well they are very prominent members of the insect community. They range in size from some species that are only a few centimetres long to others that are well over 12 cm in length. They are popular pets, especially in the UK & Europe where they have popularised by the Phasmid Study Group, a club with members of all ages and from all professions that have been hooked by the appeal of keeping and breeding these insects. A number of Australian sticks have made it to the hobbyists overseas. The most popular is Macleay's Spectre, Extatosoma tiaratum, a spectacular species well illustrated and discussed in the book. The book is a guide to identification and is written in a popular style that will appeal to anyone who wants to know more about these insects. There are chapters on rearing and keeping these insects as well as how to photograph them.

Michael Cermak is an excellent photographer and if you are interested in snakes, this book is a must. Published by CSIRO Publishing, it is a wonderful photographic essay of Australian snakes, their behaviour and habits. Many Australian snakes are fearsome and dangerous. To the credit of the author, this fact is not overemphasized. The beauty and place of these snakes in their environment, their strategies for survival and hopes for the future make interesting reading.

Many visotors come from overseas to see the Great Barrier Reef off Cairns, in northern Queensland, but only a minute percentage of them get into the Cape York peninsula much beyond Cooktown. Reasons for this are simple. Beyond Cooktown there are few paved roads and the main roads are off-limits during the rainy season. So special effort need be made to visit this remote part of Australia. This book will probably do a lot to encourage folk to make the extra effort to visit Cape York. The writing of Robert Heinsohn and the photographs of Michael Cermak combine to produce a splendid book that should be of interst to Australians and foreign visitors alike. Anyone fascinated by nature will want this book published by CSIRO Publishing.

For people living in the northern wet tropics of Australia, this book is a must. We probably have around 15-20 species of frog in the Kuranda area and to have a book dedicated to the identification of these amphibians is most helpful. There is a key, excellent photographs and copious notes on ecology and behaviour.

This book was published a year or so ago but it is most worthwhile to note it here because it may not be generally seen on the overseas market. Published by the Museum of Victoria, the book is a must for any individual, museum or zoo that wants to keep and cultivate invertebrates. The authors are in charge of the Museum's live exhibits and have successfully kept everything from ants to water beetles. They have set out the care guides in an easy to understand way with plenty of photos and drawings. You'll learn about special temperature, humidity, foods and lighting requirements of each species they deal with. They have chapters on how to make an attractive terrarium and how to display your captive creatures. This is a quality book of international standards and will captivate not only to those who want to observe invertebrates alive, but to the general public as well.


Hymo said...

They look good I might be getting the new stick insect book and have Bugs Alive.

Mr. Smiley said...

Good one. Thanks for the comment.


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