Eye of Newt and Toe of Frog, Adder's Fork and Lizard's Leg

Eye of Newt and Toe of Frog, Adder's Fork and Lizard's Leg

The Lore and Mythology of Amphibians and Reptiles

Book - 2015
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Recent estimates suggest that nearly 3 million people in the US alone keep an amphibian or reptile as a pet. YouTube videos with odes to cane toads are ubiquitous. And yet amphibians and reptiles also keep extermination companies in business, and are reviled by many. These emotions pose great challenges to the conservation of these species, just as their populations in the natural world are in great decline. It can be quite hard to inspire stewardship of a tomato toad in the same way that one can more generally charismatic fauna like pandas and polar bears. In response, herpetologists have created large-scale programs such as Amphibian Ark, the umbrella organization behind the Year of the Frog campaign, http://www.amphibianark.org/, to educate and enthrall citizens with the charm of the more slimy species of the planet.

Few herpetologists have contributed more to the conservation of amphibians and reptiles than Marty Crump, a renowned expert on declining amphibians. This manuscript is her ode to the toad, a masterful compilation of science and narrative centering on human relations with amphibians and reptiles across the globe. An intrepid explorer and skilled writer, Crump has gathered stories and myths and paired them with natural history to give a wonderful view of how essential amphibians and reptiles are to our well being. Using symbolism, folklore, and science, the manuscript also explores the conservation consequences of our complicated amorous and vexed affair with snakes, frogs, toads and other herpetofauna.

Frogs are worshipped for bringing nourishing rains, but blamed for devastating floods. Turtles are admired for their wisdom and longevity, but ridiculed for their sluggish and cowardly behavior. Snakes are respected for their ability to heal and restore life, but despised as symbols of evil. Lizards are revered as beneficent guardian spirits, but feared as the Devil himself.

In this ode to toads and snakes, newts and tuatara, crocodiles and tortoises, herpetologist and science writer Marty Crump explores folklore across the world and throughout time. From creation myths to trickster tales; from associations with fertility and rebirth to fire and rain; and from the use of herps in folk medicines and magic, as food, pets, and gods, to their roles in literature, visual art, music, and dance, Crump reveals both our love and hatred of amphibians and reptiles—and their perceived power. In a world where we keep home terrariums at the same time that we battle invasive cane toads, and where public attitudes often dictate that the cute and cuddly receive conservation priority over the slimy and venomous, she shows how our complex and conflicting perceptions threaten the conservation of these ecologically vital animals.

Sumptuously illustrated, Eye of Newt and Toe of Frog, Adder’s Fork and Lizard’s Leg is a beautiful and enthralling brew of natural history and folklore, sobering science and humor, that leaves us with one irrefutable lesson: love herps. Warts, scales, and all.


Publisher: Chicago ; London : The University of Chicago Press, 2015
Copyright Date: ©2015
ISBN: 9780226116006
022611600X
Branch Call Number: 597.8 CRUMP
Characteristics: viii, 320 pages : illustrations (chiefly color) ; 27 cm

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