Stebbins and Conant used to be the Bibles

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scott s
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Stebbins and Conant used to be the Bibles

Post by scott s » March 25th, 2011, 6:41 am

When I was growing up the Stebbins and Conant field guides were the Bibles.

Are there any field guides for the SW that compare or are now better than Stebbins field guide?

I want something for my kids and it is gonna need to have pretty pics.

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Re: Stebbins and Conant used to be the Bibles

Post by justinm » March 25th, 2011, 6:51 am

I'm in the process of moving houses, so my books are packed in boxes, but... There is a "Lizards of the Southwest" book I think it's called that is very very good, too large to be a field guide but great pics and such.

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Re: Stebbins and Conant used to be the Bibles

Post by Daryl Eby » March 25th, 2011, 7:04 am

justinm wrote:I'm in the process of moving houses, so my books are packed in boxes, but... There is a "Lizards of the Southwest" book I think it's called that is very very good, too large to be a field guide but great pics and such.
Yep. Excellent desk reference, but too big to carry in the field. Great photos, maps, descriptions and details.

Actual title is "Lizards of the American Southwest: A Photographic Field Guide". Edited by Lawrence L C Jones & Robert E Lovich. Published by Rio Nuevo. Cover price $24.95

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Joe Farah
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Re: Stebbins and Conant used to be the Bibles

Post by Joe Farah » March 25th, 2011, 7:06 am

It's Hammerson for me now. The audubon book is ok.

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Re: Stebbins and Conant used to be the Bibles

Post by reptilist » March 25th, 2011, 7:11 am


Paul White
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Re: Stebbins and Conant used to be the Bibles

Post by Paul White » March 25th, 2011, 7:34 am

I thought the Audobon book was freaking awful (I have an edition from sometime in the late 80s/eary 90s). Are there any regional field guides that have been updated since 2000? My peterson's is pretty old too; 96 or so, and with the taxonomic changes, introduced species, documented extensions, etc it's sort of long in the tooth.

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-EJ
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Re: Stebbins and Conant used to be the Bibles

Post by -EJ » March 25th, 2011, 7:40 am

I believe the first and easiest first reference for a field guide is Roger Conants book followed by Stebbins... even today... then the regional guides such as the Snakes of AZ... Lizards and Turtles of Tx... Texas Snakes... R/A of SD County... along with the many available other references.

After re-reading your question... the simple answer is no. I can't think of a single reference... let alone field guide that is as comprehensive and as complete as the 2 guides mentioned covering the entire S/W

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Re: Stebbins and Conant used to be the Bibles

Post by justinm » March 25th, 2011, 7:51 am

Paul White wrote:I thought the Audobon book was freaking awful (I have an edition from sometime in the late 80s/eary 90s). Are there any regional field guides that have been updated since 2000? My peterson's is pretty old too; 96 or so, and with the taxonomic changes, introduced species, documented extensions, etc it's sort of long in the tooth.
Paul,

The Eastern guide might be in the works, I keep asking Joe (his usual repsonse is that he has a very meaningful stack of paper he's working on). Problem is that Joe is using his own taxonomy, if you will. I count him as a dear friend but he's old school and cantankerous, there are even new species that need to be added.

The audobon guides for herps are brutal and even the pics used seem to be odd color variants which made things tough on me as a kid trying to cross reference.

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Re: Stebbins and Conant used to be the Bibles

Post by J-Miz » March 25th, 2011, 7:55 am

I think a good question would be, "How old are your kids?" Also, whether you want a "first guide" or a comprehensive guide is another question.

There is a beginner's guide in the Peterson series...looks like it merges the eastern Conant's with the western Stebbins', including just the more common species:

http://www.amazon.com/Peterson-First-Gu ... 946&sr=8-3

If they outgrow that, the full versions of each guide would be a suitable upgrade, with much better text, more species, distribution maps, etc.

If you're looking for photo field guides, then Bartlett has a few such guides available (Western Amphibians, Western Lizards/Turtles, Western Snakes...and the Eastern volumes as well).

The Arizona field guide is spectacular...full of beautiful photos, nice distribution maps, and a user-friendly layout. I'm not sure exactly where in the Southwest you are interested in, however.

For me, it was Conant's guide that I got first caught my eye. I was 14, on vacation with the family in Myrtle Beach. We stopped at a bookstore and I picked up Conant's FG (1991 print). Funny...that very guide is about five inches away from me as I type. Anyways, I marveled at those beautiful plates and HAD TO HAVE IT. Whenever we were back at our rental house, it was Conant's guide that was in my hands. I LOVE THIS BOOK.

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Re: Stebbins and Conant used to be the Bibles

Post by jonathan » March 25th, 2011, 8:06 am

I liked the pretty pictures in Audobon quite a bit as a kid, but I remember quite a few that were not particularly helpful in identifying the herp, and some of the things in the species accounts were pretty debatable. I had Audobon, Peterson's, and Golden Book* as a kid, and I remember from an early age that Audobon had the prettiest pictures, Peterson's had the best info, and Golden Book sucked.

I think Peterson's (Stebbins) is fantastic as a first guide for kids of any age. The only reason you might need an easier guide is if you're trying to get the kid interested and predict trouble holding their attention. A kid who is already interested in herps will do amazing things in order to figure out a field guide - giving a 7 or 8 year old a comprehensive guide might make them both a more knowledgeable herper and a better reader.



* I also had the Pacific Northwest guide published by Idaho University Press (my dad worked for one of the authors), but that isn't relevant to this thread.

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Re: Stebbins and Conant used to be the Bibles

Post by Jason Mintzer » March 25th, 2011, 9:18 am

Obviously your kids will want a book with pictures, but for me, now my bible is http://www.californiaherps.com/ accessed from my iphone. The main downside is no service, no guide. The best part is being able to listen to different frog/toad mating calls.

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Re: Stebbins and Conant used to be the Bibles

Post by Don Cascabel » March 25th, 2011, 10:21 am

Give 'em Armstrong & Murphy and send them off to Mexico...

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Re: Stebbins and Conant used to be the Bibles

Post by scott s » March 25th, 2011, 2:34 pm

"Give 'em Armstrong & Murphy and send them off to Mexico..."


Yea, I wish I could.....LOL

Some of my fondest herping memories are from Baja and the mainland.

With the current drug wars, I don't think my ex or my current wife would allow any of the kids to go Mexico these days. I am hoping this stupid drug war ends in the not too distant future and Mexico gets a bit safer to cruise in.

Until then, I may just have to take them to Australia :)

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Re: Stebbins and Conant used to be the Bibles

Post by chad ks » March 25th, 2011, 3:06 pm

For me the Bible was Conant/Collins. These days I've tried to accumulate a collection of state field guides and that seems to be a helpful way of having information readily available. I have really worn out my huge hard-covered Amphibians and Reptiles of New Mexico by Degenhardt, Painter and Price. The Amphibians and Reptiles of Arkansas by Trauth is another great one...and of course the new KS herp book by Collins, Collins, Taggart and Hooper is a great buy (it's called Amphibians, Reptiles and Turtles in Kansas ).

I used to also read and reread Fitch's A Kansas Snake Community: Composition and Changes over 50 Years.

I have learned a lot from both of Hubbs' kingsnake books and I think the information within them is usefully dense.

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Re: Stebbins and Conant used to be the Bibles

Post by Paul White » March 25th, 2011, 3:22 pm

I think the degenhart one has been reprinted in softcover so you may be able to find another copy. It's an amazing reference.

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Re: Stebbins and Conant used to be the Bibles

Post by chris_mcmartin » March 25th, 2011, 3:23 pm

jonathan wrote:I liked the pretty pictures in Audobon quite a bit as a kid, but I remember quite a few that were not particularly helpful in identifying the herp, and some of the things in the species accounts were pretty debatable.
On a sad note, it appears the enature.com web site (if it's still around; haven't checked lately) is pretty much a web version of the Audubon guides. Blech.
and Golden Book sucked.
Are you talking about the Golden book "Reptiles and Amphibians," or the Golden Field Guide "Reptiles of North America" (and its companions, "Amphibians...," "Birds...," and "Mammals of North America")? I concur that the Golden book was pitiful as far as any useful information, and the illustrations were horrendous as well. However, the Golden Field Guide was MUCH better, thanks to its inclusion of dichotomous keys which greatly aided in identification.

I still have all these books though, the Golden one more for nostalgic purposes than utility. :)

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Re: Stebbins and Conant used to be the Bibles

Post by txherper » March 25th, 2011, 4:16 pm

scott s wrote:"Give 'em Armstrong & Murphy and send them off to Mexico..."


Yea, I wish I could.....LOL

Some of my fondest herping memories are from Baja and the mainland.

With the current drug wars, I don't think my ex or my current wife would allow any of the kids to go Mexico these days. I am hoping this stupid drug war ends in the not too distant future and Mexico gets a bit safer to cruise in.

Until then, I may just have to take them to Australia :)
yeah, take 'em to australia. they speak english there, so you wouldn't be foreigners. :D

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Re: Stebbins and Conant used to be the Bibles

Post by Correcamino » March 25th, 2011, 5:33 pm

Stebbins and Conant were my bibles growing up, particularily Stebbins growing up in Az. I still think it is hard to beat either of those for overall coverage of North American herps. There are guides that are more detailed etc., but they are usually limited to a region, state or species/group. I bought my first copies of both at age seven so I feel they are very kid friendly.

The Audobon guide is OK, for the novice cept the Grand Canyon Rattlesnake pictured is actually a viridis, lol.

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Re: Stebbins and Conant used to be the Bibles

Post by jonathan » March 25th, 2011, 6:36 pm

chris_mcmartin wrote:
jonathan wrote:I liked the pretty pictures in Audobon quite a bit as a kid, but I remember quite a few that were not particularly helpful in identifying the herp, and some of the things in the species accounts were pretty debatable.
On a sad note, it appears the enature.com web site (if it's still around; haven't checked lately) is pretty much a web version of the Audubon guides. Blech.
and Golden Book sucked.
Are you talking about the Golden book "Reptiles and Amphibians," or the Golden Field Guide "Reptiles of North America" (and its companions, "Amphibians...," "Birds...," and "Mammals of North America")? I concur that the Golden book was pitiful as far as any useful information, and the illustrations were horrendous as well. However, the Golden Field Guide was MUCH better, thanks to its inclusion of dichotomous keys which greatly aided in identification.

I still have all these books though, the Golden one more for nostalgic purposes than utility. :)
I think it was probably "A Golden Field Identification: Reptiles of North America". And I'm only talking about my memory as a kid, not offering a formal review - I much much much preferred the Stebbins and the Audobon and rarely found the Golden guide useful. Still, I read everything in it over and over just because it was there. :D

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Re: Stebbins and Conant used to be the Bibles

Post by Mike VanValen » March 25th, 2011, 7:27 pm

"A Golden Guide - Reptiles And Amphibians" might be ridiculous, but it was my first herp guide when I was knee-high to a spring peeper. I still have a copy and it's near and dear to my heart. My favorite is page 92, the cornsnake constricting a rodent in a barn.

I also have both "Golden" guides. I've had them for over 20 years and I still love flipping through them. Those books have been in the field and have grass stains and who knows what else. The Reptile guide even lists Boa constrictor.

I have a tattered copy of the Audubon Guide which has also been in my possession for 20 years. The ...leucistic? Alligator snapper always makes me laugh.

I have 2 editions of Stebbins. Great books.

Of course, Conant / Collins is THE bible. I always have it sitting nearby.

Still waiting for that Mexico guide...

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Re: Stebbins and Conant used to be the Bibles

Post by walk-about » March 26th, 2011, 9:10 am

Books? What are "books"? LoL

RocK ON!

Dave

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Re: Stebbins and Conant used to be the Bibles

Post by BChambers » March 27th, 2011, 5:54 am

Mike VanValen wrote:"A Golden Guide - Reptiles And Amphibians" might be ridiculous, but it was my first herp guide when I was knee-high to a spring peeper. I still have a copy and it's near and dear to my heart. My favorite is page 92, the cornsnake constricting a rodent in a barn.
I WISH I still had this old guide (Herbert Zim, I believe, was the author). Growing up way back in the 60s, this was my literary introduction to herps, and those illustrations really captured my imagination. I also remember fondly the five-lined skinks (including an old male, juvenile and female guarding her clutch) cavorting on a hollow log, and the rough green snake looped among vines with a fat green caterpillar in its mouth (a smaller smooth green crawled on the ground below).

The range maps were so small as to only be helpful in hinting at what I MIGHT find in my general area of the country, but I studied them assiduously. I remember finding a huge dead black rat snake on a road near our suburban home in central Indiana, and IDing it using my trusty golden guide (I was about 7 at the time).

Of course I soon discovered the Conant guide (in fact I still have the battered first edition I received from my grandmother when I was in 5th grade), and still consider it by far the most useful such guide. But that Zim guide certainly served its purpose-as a basic intro for children-more than admirably.

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Re: Stebbins and Conant used to be the Bibles

Post by Carl Brune » March 27th, 2011, 9:23 am

Still are the bibles, IMO. I received the 1st edition of Stebbins for Christmas in 1973. Best Christmas present ever. I still have much of my childhoold library:
ImageImage
ImageImage

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Re: Stebbins and Conant used to be the Bibles

Post by Jeremy Westerman » March 27th, 2011, 11:08 am

I collect as many books on this subject as I can get my hands on to compare descriptions, range maps, information etc. My field guide and reptile reference books take up 2 book shelves. I have many Stebbins and Conant guides but I favor Bartlett. My favorites guide type books right now are:
World
The Atlas of Snakes of the World by John Coborn (Oct. 1991)
a good general overview
Regional
Guide and Reference to the Snakes of Western North America (North of Mexico) and Hawaii (Guide & Reference) by Richard D. Bartlett and Patricia Bartlett (May 10, 2009)

Guide and Reference to the Turtles and Lizards of Western North America (North of Mexico) and Hawaii (Guide & Reference) by Richard D. Bartlett and Patricia Bartlett (May 10, 2009)

Guide and Reference to the Amphibians of Western North America (North of Mexico) and Hawaii by Richard D. Bartlett and Patricia Bartlett (May 10, 2009)

these three above are "the bibles" for me
Lizards of the American Southwest: A Photographic Field Guide -by Lawrence Jones and Rob Lovich (Sept. 8, 2009)
my favorite lizard book ever.
Venomous Reptiles of North America: By Carl H. Ernst, 1999
my favorite venomous book ever.
Snakes of North America: Western Region by Richard D. Bartlett 2000
a great pack sized field book
Locally
Snakes of Utah by Douglas C. Cox, Wilmer W. Tanner and Mark Philbrick (Dec 1995)
excellent book for local snakes for both herpers and laypeople

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Re: Stebbins and Conant used to be the Bibles

Post by ratsnakehaven » March 27th, 2011, 11:15 am

This strand kind of makes me laugh. Responses are relative to one's age, I'm guessing. I was herping already in the 50's and my first guide was the Golden Guide. I still love this book for it's photos and memories. I next picked up the Conant guide, probably shortly after it first came out in '57. Conant was my idol for years. Stebbins was later.

Growing up in MI, there weren't many herpers, college courses, or even literature that was very helpful for an emerging field herper, let alone Google or the internet. I remember hanging out at the Detroit Zoo and pestering staff at the reptile house for info on local herps. A couple local pet shops had some interesting herps from outside the state that whet my interest, such as the ratsnakes, that have become my main interest overall. I wrote to Roger Conant in those early years, as well as a few other famous herpers, and relish the old letters from them still. While not a field guide, I was very fond of a book by Wright and Wright, '57, also.

Nowadays there are many state guides and books that work well. My literary collection is pretty expansive and I could go on and on about the great literature and collector's items. I probably have nearly 100 titles and have invested thousands over the years. One of the best emerging trends, imho, are the monographs. My favorite so far is the monograph on ratsnakes by K. D. Schulz, '96. I still use Conant and Stebbins, btw.

Best Regards.....Terry Cox/recently herping the great Southwest :beer:

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Re: Stebbins and Conant used to be the Bibles

Post by Mike VanValen » March 27th, 2011, 2:38 pm

BChambers wrote: I WISH I still had this old guide (Herbert Zim, I believe, was the author). Growing up way back in the 60s, this was my literary introduction to herps, and those illustrations really captured my imagination. I also remember fondly the five-lined skinks (including an old male, juvenile and female guarding her clutch) cavorting on a hollow log, and the rough green snake looped among vines with a fat green caterpillar in its mouth (a smaller smooth green crawled on the ground below).

The range maps were so small as to only be helpful in hinting at what I MIGHT find in my general area of the country, but I studied them assiduously. I remember finding a huge dead black rat snake on a road near our suburban home in central Indiana, and IDing it using my trusty golden guide (I was about 7 at the time).

Of course I soon discovered the Conant guide (in fact I still have the battered first edition I received from my grandmother when I was in 5th grade), and still consider it by far the most useful such guide. But that Zim guide certainly served its purpose-as a basic intro for children-more than admirably.
I feel the same about that book. You can pick up a copy very cheap on ebay.

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