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This book is a guide to the origins and biology of snakes from three herpetologists at the Natural History Museum. It’s geared to anyone who’s interested in snakes, rather than just people who want to keep them as pets, though anyone considering buying a snake would benefit from reading this book.

‘Snakes’ gives a fascinating account of how snakes evolved, and how they perceive the world – their senses are different from ours. Some snakes can detect the heat of warm-blooded creatures, and all snakes can detect prey by smell. They are also more sensitive than we are to vibrations. This is why pet snakes can be upset if they’re kept in a place where their ‘ground’ seems to be constantly vibrating, and it’s kinder to wear soft-soled shoes near a vivarium. There’s also an account of snake reproduction, again, interesting in itself, and useful for people who keep snakes.

There are some 3,000 species of snakes, which differ a lot in their lifestyle, behaviour and habitats, and much of ‘Snakes’ explains these differences. This information is interesting if you just want to understand snakes, and is especially useful if you’re thinking of keeping one. ‘Snakes’ is an ideal gift for a young person interested in biology. It’s nicely written, well-illustrated, and has a glossary which explains technical terms. It’s also an invaluable source of background information for people interested in keeping snakes.