The Snakes of Trinidad and Tobago

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Texas A&M University Press, 2001 - Nature - 270 pages
2 Reviews
Scientific fact meets island folklore as Hans Boos presents more than sixty species of snakes found in the twin-island independent Caribbean nation of Trinidad and Tobago. The culmination of thirty years of collecting and observing the snakes of these islands, The Snakes of Trinidad and Tobago engagingly informs readers about these often feared and misunderstood creatures.

Tracing the contributions of scientists to the evolving taxonomy of the islands' reptiles, Boos describes each unique species of snake found on the two islands, including local names from two centuries back. Species accounts come complete with tales—both documented and apocryphal—of human encounters with the more dangerous island snakes. Forty-eight color photographs and fifty black-and-white photographs and pieces of line art, most by the author, illustrate the text and aid in identification.

While tiny Tobago is mercifully devoid of poisonous snakes, Trinidad hosts four venomous species, including coral snakes and the notorious bushmaster. Boos refutes many of the myths about these deadly but usually nonaggressive snakes with information about their habits and behavior. He also writes about the giant anaconda and the boa constrictor, about which many half-truths and fictions abound.

All snakes bite, but only a few species are venomous. Boos gives information about what to do—and what not to do—in the event of a bite and discusses intriguing folk medicine cures, such as the Belgian Black Stone, sure to work only if a bite was harmless to begin with.

The Snakes of Trinidad and Tobago will find an enthusiastic audience among herpetologists, ecologists, and other scientists concerned about the snakes and wildlife of Trinidad and Tobago, the Caribbean, and South America. It will also appeal to general readers interested in snakes and in Caribbean folklore.


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I had the pleasure of meeting Mr Hans Boos while he was still curator at the Zoo in the early 1990's and getting a copy of another book he had written on the Reptiles and Birds of Trinidad and Tobago which was an excellent guide for a first timer bush person. I had just bought a 16 acre abandoned Cocoa Estate which was practically forest. I took my children and several of their friends to the Zoo and started asking someone about snakes etc I could encounter in the forest when they put us on directly to Mr Boos who showed our group a film of Birds and Reptiles in Trinidad and Tobago gave us a short lecture and trusted me with a copy of his book to take away and make a copy for myself and return it. which I did. I am ever grateful for the knowledge I received from Mr Boos which I share with anyone I could.
Mervyn Wattley


Taxonomy and Species Accounts
LeptotyphlopidaeThread Snakes
TyphlopidaeBlind Snakes
AniliidaePipe Snakes
BoidaeBoas and Pythons
ColubridaeHarmless Snakes
ElapidaeCoral Snakes Cobras Mambas
ViperidaePit Vipers Mapepires
Antidotes and Anecdotes
The Belgian Black Stone
Identifying Large Diurnal Mostly Black Snakes in Trinidad and Tobago


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Popular passages

Page xv - AMNH — American Museum of Natural History, New York ANSP — Academy of Natural Sciences, Philadelphia...
Page 253 - An annotated list of batrachians and reptiles collected in the vicinity of La Guaira, Venezuela, with descriptions of two new species of snakes.
Page 230 - TABAGO ; or, A Geographical Description, Natural and Civil History, Together with a full Representation of the Produce, and other Advantages arising from the Fertility, excellent Harbours, and happy Situation of that famous Island.
Page 231 - They purport to be usable lists, admitted to be necessary, for any study of the higher vertebrates of British Guiana with special reference to the fauna of the Bartica district — the species which Beebe has actually found there being starred with an asterisk.
Page 246 - Biological notes upon some of the Ophidia of Trinidad, BWI, with a preliminary list of the species recorded from the Island.
Page 252 - T*HE report of the Council of the Zoological Society of •*• London for the year...

References to this book

Adolphus, a Tale
Lise Winer
Snippet view - 2001
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About the author (2001)

Hans E. A. Boos is former curator of the Emperor Valley Zoo, Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago, and is currently with Bushmaster Treks and Tours. He has published numerous articles on island fauna and has lectured and consulted on wildlife issues. Boos is a member of the Field Naturalists' Club of Trinidad and Tobago, the Society of the Study of Amphibians and Reptiles, and the Societas Europaea Herpetologica.

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