From the rare and docile massasauga, which relies on camouflage to remain unnoticed, to the more familiar bull-snake, which defends itself by hissing loudly and vibrating its tail from an S-shaped striking position, to the eastern racer, often seen crawling at more than three miles an hour during daytime, snakes are beautiful animals with habits both fascinating and beneficial to humans. Their relatives the lizards, most of which are more easily seen and identified, exhibit similarly fascinating behavior. This colorful addition to our series of laminated guides informs both amateur and professional herpetologists about twenty-seven species of snakes and six species of lizards in the Upper Midwest states of Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, South Dakota, North Dakota, Kansas, Nebraska, Iowa, and Missouri. Terry VanDeWalle provides a complete description of each species, both adult and young, as well as distinguishing characteristics for thirty-two subspecies of snakes and two subspecies of lizards: length, color, head and neck patterns, scales, and so on.
Also included is information about habitat preferences: forests, wet meadows, and sand prairies, for example. Most helpful for identifying snakes and lizards in the field are his comparisons of similar species and his comprehensive key. Superb photographs by Suzanne Collins of adult and, when needed for identification, young snakes and lizards make this guide the perfect companion for hikers in all kinds of environments whenever a snake ripples across your path or a lizard darts into the underbrush.
Terry VanDeWalle has been researching reptiles and amphibians in the Midwest for almost twenty years. He is a principal scientist for Natural Resources Consulting, Inc., in Independence, Iowa. Wildlife photographer Suzanne Collins is an executive officer of the Center for North American Herpetology.