Regardless of how people feel about snakes – love them or hate them – they make for fascinating conversations.
Snakes are resilient, widespread creatures that come in a seemingly impossible range of varieties from those that are venomous to those with forked tongues.
Whether you have a pet snake, are considering getting your first one, or just find them fascinating, these books about snakes will help you absorb as much as possible about these captivating creatures!
Book Recommendation #1: A Primer on Reptiles and Amphibians
Author Micha Petty is a wildlife rehabilitator and naturalist. In 2019 his book A Primer on Reptiles and Amphibians was released to favorable reviews.
And while this book does not focus on snakes exclusively, it has an expansive section on serpents. In fact, this book is educational while still being accessible to experienced and new snake owners.
Petty covers introductory topics like finding the right vet for your snake as well as more advanced issues like breeding, anatomy, conservation, and health care, including complex issues like managing snake fungal disease.
One of the best parts of this book is that the proceeds from new purchases set aside for reptile and amphibian conservation. Pretty cool, right?
Book Recommendation #2: The Book of Snakes: A Life-Size Guide to Six Hundred Species from Around the World
Author Mark O’Shea is a Professor of Herpetology and a television presenter. He published this book of snake species in 2018.
The Book of Snakes starts out explaining the history and evolution of serpents, moves into classifications and scientific names (including reference charts) and then discusses what makes a snake a snake, their habits, defenses, and reproduction.
Finally, the encyclopedia of snakes is broken up into classifications with colorful depictions of each snake plus basic information like distribution areas, diet, reproductions, conservation status, and then text giving fuller detail.
This tome is over 600 pages and is praised for its expansive, diverse selection of snakes, in-depth illustrations, and the range of reference material, which makes it accessible to ALL snake lovers!
This is not O’Shea’s first book on snakes. He’s been publishing on reptiles and amphibians since the 1990s, but this is his most thorough collection.
Book Recommendation #3: Serpentine
Mark Laita’s book is for those that admire the aesthetics of snakes. It is an artistic endeavor in the form of a photography collection.
Serpentine is NOT a reference book, but one for people just love to look at snakes in all their diverse beauty.
Laita photographed all the snakes on a black background so their colors pop off the page. While, technically more of an art book, this volume will appeal to snake lovers that want to see a detailed look at a range of serpents.
Laita included a wide variety of snakes from the black mamba to garter snakes. The book is praised for its artistic content and the detail in the photographs.
This book is unique and stands on its own merit, however, some reviewers did not like the quotes that were scattered through the book finding they had a sinister tone and perpetuated the stigma that snakes are evil.
Book Recommendation #4: How Snakes Work: Structure, Function and Behavior of the World’s Snakes
Zoologist Harvey Lillywhite wrote this book for the people who want to get to the nitty-gritty of snakes.
How do they work?
How do they move?
How do they reproduce?
Why is their skin the way it is?
What do they eat?
Those questions (and many more!) are all answered in this text where you’ll find chapters on locomotion, ectothermy, courtship, and sound production.
It’s all about the biology. However, writing and illustrations were not sacrificed to accommodate the technical details.
Reviewers say this book is excellent for anyone needing to research snakes for their own writing or research papers as well as those fascinated by function.
Despite the detailed information, this is still a palatable read, designed for people who are not studying to become a reptilian veterinarian.
Book Recommendation #5: Secrets of Snakes: The Science Beyond the Myths
Lighthearted, anecdotal, and conversational, this text may not be the first book you gravitate toward to when you are looking for info on snakes. However, it is a text you do not want to miss out on…
Author David Steen looks at the mythologies behind snakes and breaks down what is true and what isn’t. While you may think some myths are self-explanatory, Steen looks at their origins and if there are nuggets of truth in the myths.
Chapters include “Are Baby Snakes More Dangerous Than Adults?” and “Can You Fall into a Nest of Cottonmouths?”
The fun in this book comes from Steen answering questions you didn’t know had an answer or never thought to ask!
Steen is a herpetologist and conservation biologist. You can even find him on Twitter if you want to get a taste for his style before you buy.
Honorable Mention Books About Snakes
The above books showcase a variety of snake species and may help as reference material for snake breeding, care, troubleshooting, and even choosing a pet snake. However, there are many wonderful books that specialize in specific breeds of snakes or specific regions.
Below are two honorable mentions that specialize in a niche topic.
Honorable Mention #1: The Ultimate Ball Python: Morph Maker Guide
This book really is a tome. At over 770 pages, 1,200 color photos, and over five pounds, there is not much you won’t know about the ball pythons (and their many morphs) when you are done reading it!
This book is considered the go-to reference for anyone interested in ball pythons, whether they are beginners, enthusiasts, or breeders.
The only catch with this book is it is no longer in print and can only be found second-hand.
Honorable Mention #2: Snakes and Other Reptiles of the Southwest
This gem is for people who love the snakes in the southwestern states. It has information for people who may want to keep these snakes as pets, but it mostly talks about conservation, biology, habitats, and different species – including invasive species.
This reference guide is great if you are traveling in this region and want to be able to identify any snakes that cross your path.