Hey I'm heading to Madagascar in Sept. and am purchasing some field guides so I can make some ID's. I'm contemplating purchasing "Field Guide to the Amphibians and Reptiles of Madagascar" by Frank Glaw and Miguel Vences, but its quite expensive. Would you recommend this guide, or is there something cheaper/ more complete out there?
This is the authoritative guide to the herps of Madagascar. There are no others. It is a fantastic resource. However, there are a few things you need to be aware of:
- the binding is shit and your book will begin to fall apart 100% guaranteed if you use it semi-regularly for longer than two weeks. Nothing you can do about that - just bear it in mind.
- It is written by herpetologists for herpetologists - that is to say it contains some rather complicated methods for determining which species you have in front of you. The introduction does a pretty good job explaining these things, but it can still be hard to figure out exactly which scale is which when doing an actual ID if you are not a professional.
- You don’t have a choice of other books to buy so basically this is the only book if you want to actually know what animal it is you are looking at.
- It is not a light book. It is certainly not a pocket field guide. It has almost 500 pages. It is worth its weight.
- Madagascar’s taxonomic status is pretty far behind most of the rest of the world, because there are just disproportionately more species to describe. Because of this:
a. about 60 new frog species have been described since the book was published in 2007
b. there are about 200 undescribed frog and 20 reptile species that are known to exist but just haven’t yet been described.
c. some parts of the book are mislabelled or are no longer correct.
- In spite of all its faults, I still contend that this is the best field guide I have ever worked with. I have owned three copies. It is worth the money. I call it my Bible.
I have compiled a list of updates to this fieldguide here. This list is not complete, but it contains a lot of updates that really improve your ability to ID certain species in the field, and adds a lot of newly described species where they were before just given as pictures. It does not contain species were not previously figured in the book though.
I wish you the best of luck with your field pursuits! I expect photos and a full report!
Remember: if you can’t get a positive ID in the field, get good photos from a variety of angles, particularly of the top, bottom, and side of the full animal and its head, and I will most likely be able to ID it.