Michigan is not a state that is well-known for its reptiles and amphibians, but if the whole drainage basin of the Great Lakes is taken into account, as it is in this book, we host a total of 33 amphibians (mostly salamanders!) and 42 reptiles (mostly snakes).
"Amphibians and Reptiles of the Great Lakes Region" starts with a preface on how to use this book, followed by a brief 34-page introduction to Herpetology. Most of 378 pages are taken up by descriptions of the 75 species of reptiles and amphibians that might be encountered by those of us who live near one of the Great Lakes. The color photographs and distribution maps are well-suited for species identification. I was able to recognize a pair of snakes that rove through a swampy area near our driveway as Northern Ribbon Snakes (Thamnophis sauritus septentrionalis), a handsome species of garter snake. The frogs that are currently hopping through the lawn are Wood Frogs (Rana sylvatica), not a brown variation of Leopard Frog (Rana pipiens), as I had originally thought.
Each of the species narratives is divided into the following sections: "Description;" "Confusing Species;" "Distribution and Status;" "Habitat and Ecology;" "Reproduction and Growth;" and "Conservation." The author stresses 'nonconsumptive' observation of these interesting creatures in their habitat, since many of the species are in decline. Newts seem to be especially vulnerable to degradation of their habitat and the author suggests conserving and protecting them by "creating ponds that are close to woodland habitats." I've lived in Michigan all of my live and have never seen any form of salamander, including newts, so I'll have to start looking more closely in and near the local woodland ponds. They are not for picking up, though. The author states that all members of the Salamandridae family have skins that "are well supplied with poison glands that help discourage predators."
"Amphibians and Reptiles of the Great Lakes Region" is a well-organized, well-written, and well-illustrated guide for all budding herpetologists or for those of us in the region who are curious about our natural surroundings.