|Title||A Field Guide to the Reptiles of Thailand|
|Author||Tanya Chan-ard, John W.K. Parr, Jarujin Nabhitabhata|
|Publisher||Oxford University Press|
Finally, a comprehensive guide book about the amazing reptiles of Thailand WITH RANGE MAPS!
The distribution maps alone make this book the most useful of its kind. Even when the ranges are not always complete. Hopefully, new editions will follow, with updated distribution maps, as well as adding newly discovered species. Even despite this, it’s my favorite of the 4 books on the region’s reptiles that I own.
My personal library already contained the following reptile guide books of this region:
- A Photographic Guide to Snakes and other reptiles of Thailand and South-East Asia – By M.J. Cox, P.P. van Dijk, J. Nabhitabhata, & K. Thirakhupt
- A Field Guide to the Reptiles of South-East Asia – By I. Das
- A Naturalist’s Guide to the Snakes of Thailand and Southeast Asia – By I. Das
Pros and Cons
At first, my search for a book store that sells A Field Guide to the Reptiles of Thailand was unsuccessful. Being impatient, I ordered the eBook on Amazon for use on my iPad Mini. This was a good introduction, but also a lesson for me that I’m not an ‘eBook person’. At least for field guides, I prefer to flip actual pages to go back and forth between species to compare, and above all add notes on where I found a species, adding dots to the distribution map etc. Soon after ordering the eBook, I learned where to get an actual printed version in Thailand; and a paperback was ordered soon after. In other words, the main con is availability, but later on this page I will help you further.
Can’t stretch it enough, the range maps are the main pro to buy this book over the other reptile field guides, listed above. At the same time, I have to mention that I encountered several species for which the range map was incomplete. To me that is not really a con, because the ranges shown usually will give you an idea of which region and geography the species prefers. It does require some basic knowledge of the country, but for most people this should not be an issue.
Just an example: the Cardamom Wolf Snake, Lycodon cardamomensis.
A species I have encountered while searching for snakes in Khao Yai. (PS. Interested in a guided herping tour in Khao Yai national park? Contact these guides!). According to the range map in this field guide it does not occur in Khao Yai. It only shows occurance in the area of Chantaburi. The parks in Chantaburi share many species with Khao Yai national park, and with this knowledge, the range maps are still useful. On a more positive note, at least this book mentions a more accurate body length of 89.6cm. According to both reptile books of Indraneil Das the maximum length of the Cardamom Wolf Snake measures just over 30cm.
Anyway, one can not expect all information to be complete, especially for species like this that are still rather new to science. One needs to be reminded that even though A Field Guide to the Reptiles of Thailand was published in 2015, it was written quite a few years before. The “cut off” was around the end of 2010. Meaning, all the species described after 2010, and all the additional findings on range and habits of published species might have not made it into this first edition. Let’s hope this book will ‘stay alive’, with new editions appearing every few years that add new reptile species and new details on their behaviour and range.
Just for the record, other species I have encountered in Khao Yai national park or elsewhere that prove incomplete range maps are:
- Scale-bellied Tree Lizard, Acanthosaura lepidogaster (occurs in Khao Yai np)
- Cross-bearing Tree Lizard, Acanthosaura crucigera (the book states it occurs in Khao Yai np, but nowadays the ones found in KY are considered A. cardamomensis)
- Smaragdine Crested Lizard, Bronchocela smaragdina (occurs in Khao Yai np)
- Butterfly Bent-toed Gecko, Cyrtodactylus papilionoides (occurs in Khao Yai np)
- Vietnamese Bronzeback (Nganson’s Bronzeback), Dendrelaphis ngansonensis (occurs in Khao Yai np)
- Green Mountain Racer (Green Trinket Snake), Gonyosoma prasina (occurs in Kaeng Krachan np & Khao Yai np)
No doubt, there are more examples that I haven’t looked at, or simply don’t know enough about. Also worth mentioning, I did not find any mistakes where a range was given for an area where a species certainly does not occur. Apart from some subspecies that have gained full species level after 2010…
Tanya Chan-ard’s A Field Guide to the Reptiles of Thailand makes use of drawings, not photographs. Overall, I think the plates are of good quality, sometimes with close-ups of important features that help identification of the species. I’m more positive about the drawings in this field guide than I am about those in A Field Guide to the Reptiles of South-East Asia – By Indraneil Das. A simple example, put the Crested Lizards Genus Calotes of these two comprehensive guide books next to each other, and you will see the drawings in Tanya Chan-ard’s field guide are clearly superior over the ones in the book by Indraneil Das.
Anyhow, I’m glad to own two photographic guide books with a large variety of species. Photos often make the difference to really get a feel of how a species/ genus looks.
For that I recommend to buy the low-budget A Photographic Guide to Snakes and other reptiles of Thailand and South-East Asia – By M.J. Cox together with this new publication by T. Chan-ard, just for some photographs to point you in the right direction.
Another useful feature are the keys for each genus to point you to the right species. For those who want exact answers and don’t mind counting scales, this is a useful addition to identify a species.
It works in simple steps.
You start at key no.1. Then it will mention something like if 13 scale rows it’s this species. if 15 or more scale rows continue at key no.2. Key no.2 might mention if scales are smooth continue at key no.3, if scales are keeled continue at key no.4 etc. etc.
No rocket science, though sometimes it requires knowledge of the particular names of certain scales like e.g. supralabials or occipitals, but most are explained in the glossary or on the XXV – XXIX pages: Distinguishing features for the Identification of Thai Reptiles.
Where to buy?
The book is available as a Hardcover, Paperback, and as an eBook.
Surprisingly, it took me a while to find a local book store in Thailand that sells the book, but a fellow herpetology enthusiast on facebook directed me to the following book store, Books Kinokuniya Thailand.
Click here to order A Field Guide to the Reptiles of Thailand at Books Kinokuniya Thailand. They don’t seem to have it in stock most of the time, only on special order, but who knows this might change in the future if enough people show their interest.