Saturday, March 4, 2023

Bibliotheca Herpetologica 17(2)


Böhme, W. 2023. Book Review. J.G. Schneider’s Historiae Amphibiorum: Herpetology at the Dawn of the 19th Century. Bibliotheca Herpetologica 17(2):8–9. Published March 4, 2023.

Seventeen years after Aaron M. Bauer, together with Rainer Günther and Meghan Klipfel (1995), presented a monograph on the life and work of Wilhelm Peters (1815–1883) in which all the publications of this great and prolific herpetologist were reproduced as facsimile prints, Bauer now published another historical-herpetological milestone work, this time together with Esteban O. Lavilla. This volume is also part of the Contributions to Herpetology series published by the Society for the Study of Amphibians and Reptiles (SSAR). This new book deals with the legacy of the great philologist and zoologist Johann Gottlob (Theaenus) Schneider (1750–1822) whose most important herpetological work was the two volumes of his Historiae Amphibiorum (1799 and 1801). Bauer and Lavilla undertook the task to provide a full English translation of this great work originally written in Latin. They did not limit themselves to a translation alone, but enriched it with numerous footnotes explaining or deepening the understanding Schneider’s text. These footnotes are incredible 1748 (!) in number and containing a lot of information. They provide lots of details, not only on the taxa treated by Schneider and their nomenclatural histories but also on the earlier authors whose works he had studied; and because he was also (or even primarily) a great philologist, he dealt with contributors to the natural history of amphibians and reptiles dating back to Greek and Roman antiquity whose works he could of course read in their original languages.

Sunday, February 26, 2023

Bibliotheca Herpetologica 17(1)


Dodd, C. K. Jr. 2023.  Snakes in a Grave—or Not. Bibliotheca Herpetologica 17(1):1–7. Published February 26, 2023.

Chester Bedell was a successful farmer and well-known citizen of the Deerfield-North Benton region of northeastern Ohio. He was intensely interested in religion and a Biblical scholar, not as a practicing Christian, but as an atheist bent on disproving the existence of God and substituting rational thought for what he viewed as Christian dogmatic mythology. He was quite vocal about his beliefs in the community, even hosting public discussions with preachers and others where he cogently espoused his views. Naturally this was not popular among local believers, particularly the Presbyterian Church of North Benton, leading to intense opposition and outright hatred among the fundamentalist faithful. Bedell authored a book on his beliefs and battles with the local Presbyterian clergy, which further ostracized him as a heretic in the community.

Prior to his death, Bedell posed for a statue of himself to be erected on top of a 10-foot pedestal on his grave. The statue was in bronze and cast by the Mullins Company in Salem, Ohio, and depicts him holding a scroll in the air stating “Universal Mental Liberty” while standing on a scroll inscribed “Superstition.” Naturally, this did not endear him further to the Christian religious community, and through the years, the statue and grave were frequently vandalized. Eventually the statue was removed (with 19 bullet holes in it) for safekeeping and in 1993 was donated to the Berlin Center (Ohio) Historical Society where it is now located in the Weidenmier House (Berlin Center Historical Society 2000). But that is only part of the story surrounding Bedell’s grave.

At some point, a story was circulated that Bedell had stated “If there is a God, may snakes infest my grave.” No one seems to know where the story originated. It is doubtful that Bedell actually made this exact claim, but it seemed to suit the purpose of his enemies and may have been consistent with Bedell’s character. Legend had it that hundreds of snakes could be observed on his grave at its original location in Hartzell Cemetery. According to some accounts, hundreds of visitors might show up in a day to observe the anticipated spectacle well into the late 1930s. It is alleged that local boys or others actually salted the gravesite with garter and blacksnakes, and that a nearby restaurant owner paid them to do so to drum-up business.

Tuesday, November 8, 2022

Herpetological Titles in the California State Series

The state of California has published textbooks for its school system for a long period of time, beginning in 1884 (Hendrick 1964). What is generally not known, however, is that the California Department of Education (CDE) also published books by other publishers for school use. These are clearly identified with “California State Series” written across the top of the book and spine (where feasible), with further identification as a California textbook on the inside cover and publishing information on the title page (Fig. 1a-c). The content of these books is identical to those of the original publisher, although the quality of production (e.g., type of paper used) is not as good as the originals. The audience for these books appears to be grade and middle school children, although some may have wider appeal.

Fig. 1a.

Fig. 1b.
Fig. 1c.

Fig. 1a. Cover of The Reptiles by Archie Carr. California State Series edition, 1967.

Fig. 1b. Inside cover of The Reptiles identifying the book as an official California state textbook.

Fig. 1c. Title page of The Reptiles indicating publication by the California Department of Education.


            I have been able to locate three titles of herpetological interest published in the California State Series:


Carr, A. 1967. The Reptiles. Originally published in 1963 in the Life Nature Series, Time-Life Incorporated, New York. Fig. 1a.


Meeks, E.K. 1967. Snakes. Originally published in 1962 by the Follett Publishing Company, Chicago, as part of their Beginning Science Book series. Fig. 2.


Schoenknecht, C.A. 1967. Frogs and Toads. Originally published in 1960 by the Follett Publishing Company, Chicago, as part of their Beginning Science Book series. Fig. 3a, b.


Fig. 3a.

Fig. 2.

Fig. 3b.


Fig. 2. Cover of Snakes by Esther K. Meeks. California State Series edition, 1967.

Fig. 3a. Cover of Frogs and Toads by Charles A. Schoenknecht. California State Series edition, 1967.

Fig. 3b. Title page of Frogs and Toads indicating publication by the California Department of Education.


            It appears the California State Series included all titles from the Time-Life Nature series (these frequently are listed on eBay), but not the later American Wilderness series. Other titles from the Follett Publishing Company, an educational publishing company currently based in Westchester, Illinois, were also reprinted, for example, Esther K. Meeks’ book Mammals. I have been unable to find any production information on the number of individual copies published or the reason the CDE resorted to publishing copies rather than purchasing them from the original publisher. Since these books were copyrighted by their original publishers, CDE must have manufactured them under contract with the publishing firm. According to Jessie Medina of the CDE (personal communication, 25 October 2022), the CDE partnered with outside entities in the past, such as UCLA, in publishing materials, but has not done so in the last 30 years and none has covered biology or similar topics. There may have been contracts in place in the 1960s, but since it was over 50 years ago, it is likely there are no records available as they would have exceeded the records retention schedule for those types of documents.

            Although these books may not be of interest to academic herpetologists, the inclusion of the Carr book adds a heretofore unrecognized edition to the extensive reprinting of Carr’s popular The Reptiles (Dodd 2022).

Acknowledgements.   I thank Jesse Medina for information on book publishing by the California Department of Education.




Dodd, C.K., Jr. 2022. The international editions of Archie Carr’s books. Bibliotheca Herpetologica



Hendrick, I.G. 1964. The early history of California state-printed textbooks. Southern California   Quarterly 46:223–238.


Submitted by: C. Kenneth Dodd, Jr.

Wednesday, October 19, 2022

Herpetology in Jonathan Carver’s “Travels” (1778, 1779), with an Early Account of a Dicephalic Snake

Carver, J. 1778. Travels through the Interior Parts of North America, in the Years 1766, 1767, and 1768. To which is added, Some Account of the Author, and a copious Index. First Edition. J. Walter, London. 543 pp.

Title page of Carver’s Travels, First edition. 1778.


Carver, J. 1779. Three years travels through the interior parts of North-America, for more than five thousand miles: containing an account of the Great Lakes, and all the lakes, islands, and rivers, cataracts, mountains, minerals, soil, and vegetable productions of the north-west regions of that vast continent : with a description of the birds, beasts, reptiles, insects, and fishes peculiar to the country, together with a concise history of the genius, manners, and customs of the Indians inhabiting the lands that lie adjacent to the heads and to the westward of the great river Mississippi, and an appendix, describing the uncultivated parts of America that are the most proper for forming settlements. Second Edition. J. Crukshank, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. 282 pp.

Title page of Carver’s Travels, Second edition. 1779.

            Jonathan Carver (1710–1780) was one of the first Europeans to extensively explore regions of the Upper Midwest (Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa) and write about his observations and discoveries. Ostensibly undertaken to discover a Northwest Passage through the continent, he traveled through the northern Mississippi Valley from 1766 to 1768 until his funds and supplies were exhausted. When he returned to New England from his years-long travels, he found that he was not acknowledged or rewarded for his discoveries, so he went to England in 1769 to seek recompense from the British Crown. Abandoning his wife and children in America, he never returned. While In England, he published his Travels, an account of his adventures and observations on Native communities, which was extremely popular and well-received. However, he never recovered from his debts, and eventually died in poverty after remarrying, but without divorcing his first wife.

            Jonathan Carver was a native of New England, a selectman in Montague, Massachusetts, and a veteran of the French and Indian War, eventually becoming a captain of militia. Under the auspices of Robert Rogers and James Tute, he joined an expedition in 1763 to look for the elusive Northwest Passage. His expedition left Boston in 1766, traveling to Fort Michilimackinac (now Mackinaw City, Michigan), then throughout the Upper Midwest through the winter of 1767–1768. During his travels, he kept extensive journals, which eventually became his famous Travels. Carver’s book was published in numerous languages, and there are apparently >40 editions currently available (the book is still in print). Titles, page numbers, and formats vary somewhat, but the text is the same. There is considerable debate as to whether Carver wrote everything in his Travels or had editorial assistance, and of the extent to which he “borrowed” observations (examined in detail by Kloss, 2018). His legacy further was marred by subsequent attempts by his heirs to lay fraudulent claim to substantial tracts of western land. Today, however, Carver is recognized as one of the most important early explorers of the western frontier, one whose travels generated strong interest in the New World and its indigenous peoples. Parker (1976) provides much more information on Carver, his journals, and subsequent controversies.

            Herpetology in Carver’s Travels is presented on pages 478–490 in the first edition and on pages 247–255 in the second edition. The wording in both editions is identical. Most of the accounts refer to snakes (Of Serpents): the Rattle Snake, the Wall or House Adder, the Long Black Snake, the Striped or Garter Snake, The Water Snake, the Hissing Snake, the Green Snake, the Thorn-Tail Snake, the Speckled Snake, the Ring Snake, and the Two-Headed Snake. No where in the text, except for the accounts of the Rattle Snake and snakes on islands in western Lake Erie, does Carver imply he actually saw these snakes. No locality data are given except for those on the aforementioned islands, which are not mentioned by precise name.

            As might be expected, the longest account refers to the rattlesnake, of which he states there are two kinds, a black species and a yellow species. They are said to be exactly the same except for color, and are now recognized as different color phases of the Timber Rattlesnake (Crotalus horridus). Carver provides a reasonably accurate description of this species and, unlike contemporaries, deems them “very beautiful,” with colors “extremely pleasing.” He repeats some errors of his time (e.g., that the number of rattles reflects the snake’s age; that venom varies in potency seasonally (e.g., Lawson, 1714); that rattlesnakes are charmed by music), but refutes others (e.g., that rattlesnakes are overly aggressive; that all bites are fatal; note that other authors had mentioned similar observations). He gives a description of the fang, fang sheath, and venom gland, and describes how a rattlesnake bites and the immediate symptoms of a bite. He noted that rattlesnakes do not lay eggs, but he thought the young sought the protection of the mother’s mouth as a place of security. Native Peoples used a variety of herbs (Rattlesnake Plantain, bark from the White Ash) to treat the bites. Europeans mixed rattlesnake galls with chalk for medicinal purposes and exported the concoction to Europe, and the flesh could be dried or made into a broth. In the narrative on the customs of Native Americans, Carver noted that in the Naudowessie (Dakota) language, rattlesnakes were called Omlishcaw (p. 256 in the first edition, p. 130 in the second edition). Carver also provides details of a “tall tale” told to him concerning a rattlesnake faithfully returning to its owner (pp. 43–45 in the first edition, pp. 22–23 in the second edition).

Carver’s observations on snakes on islands in the western part of Lake Erie. Second edition, page 84.

            In Carver’s account, rattlesnakes were considered so numerous on islands in western Lake Erie that it was considered dangerous to land (p. 167–168 in first edition, p. 84 in second edition; Fig. 3). As Langlois (1964) later recounted: “the Jesuit explorer, Bonnecampe, visited the region on October 5, 1749, [and] that he referred to them as "Les lies aux Serpentes" (The islands of snakes). A French soldier (J.C.B.), enroute from Presqu'ile, near the eastern end of Lake Erie, to Detroit, spent the night of July 21, 1754, on one of these islands, and recorded in his journal (1941) that his party killed 130 rattlesnakes before they dared to sleep.” Carver’s account is reprinted verbatim in the 1806 edition of Brooke’s General Gazetteer, First American Edition.

            After the rattlesnake account, there is no further mention or description of the Wall or House Adder, so it is impossible to determine to which snake Carver refers. All further accounts are very short, and some of the species are easily identified to genus, although not necessarily to species: Striped or Garter Snake (Thamnophis sp.), the Water Snake (Nerodia sp.), the Green Snake (Opheodrys vernalis), and the Ring Snake (Diadophis punctatus). The description of the Long Black Snake seems to be a composite of several species, but definitely the Blue Racer (Coluber constrictor) in part. The Speckled Snake, likewise, seems to describe a composite of several species. Carver states that it is an “aqueous reptile,” so perhaps it refers to Pantherophis gloydi, a species found around marshes and on offshore islands in western Lake Erie. Carver describes the Thorn-Tail Snake as similar to those found elsewhere in North America, possessing a thorn-like dart on the end of its tail, with which “it is said to inflict a mortal wound.” No such species occurs in the area traveled by Carver, but similar traits have been attributed to Mud Snakes (Farancia abacura) in the southern United States.  Water Snakes (now Lake Erie Watersnakes, Nerodia sipedon insularum) were considered extremely numerous on islands in western Lake Erie (Fig. 3), and Carver noted behavior in the Hissing Snake that suggests he was reporting on Eastern Hognose Snakes (Heterodon platirhinos), although this species currently is rare in the islands (Langlois, 1964). Many of the myths associated with this species are repeated in the Hissing Snake paragraph (Fig. 3).

            The most significant herpetological report in Carver’s Travels is the notation of a two-headed snake from the Lake Champlain region. However, this snake had been previously mentioned by Bancroft (1769), complete with an illustration (Fig. 4). The snake was found in 1762 by Lieut. Moses Park and gifted to Lord Amherst1. There was no description of the snake in Carver’s account. The Reverend Manasseh Cutler was shown an illustration of this snake on a visit to Benjamin Franklin in 1787. A comparison of the Lake Champlain snake with a dicephalic snake found near Philadelphia suggested that Franklin’s Philadelphia snake was an Eastern Kingsnake (Lampropeltis getula), and was similar to the illustration of the Lake Champlain snake2. This and the accompanying illustration in Bancroft suggest the latter was an Eastern Milksnake (L. triangulum) (Wallach, 2007). It is likely that the illustration shown to Reverend Cutler by Dr. Franklin came from Bancroft’s book. Thus, Carver’s notation of the snake was not original, but the popularity of his book likely stimulated interest in such oddities from the New World.

Two-headed snake from Lake Champlain. From Bancroft (1769). Illustration by Lieut. Moses Park.

            The final herpetology notes are short. They cover the Tortoise or Land Turtle, clearly a reference to Terrapene carolina, although it is said to be venomous, and Lizards &. Lizards are divided into the Swift Lizard, a reference to Plestiodon fasciatus with its dark dorsum, bright stripes, and bright blue tail, and the Slow Lizard. Swift Lizards were said to be poisonous, but not dangerous, preferring to run away quickly. Slow Lizards, also likely P. fasciatus, were said to be identical with Fast Lizards except that they were brown dorsally. Slow Lizards readily broke off their tails (i.e., tail autotomy). The herpetology section ends with a paragraph on Tree Toads (Gray Treefrog complex, Dryophytes versicolor/ chrysoscelis), a frog with “claws” (toepads) that resembled tree bark, and “infest the woods in such numbers, that their responsive notes at these times [morning and evening] make the air resound.”

            Although an early account of the herpetology of the Great Lakes Region and, possibly, westward, are Carver’s observations of significant interest to modern researchers? Perhaps not. There is little doubt that Carver traveled extensively during his Travels, but considerable controversy exists among historians as to the originality of his observations and writings. According to Bourne (1906), “Scholars are in general agreement that much of the work in this volume is an abridgement or adaptation of historical writings of Charlevoix, Adair, and La Hontan. Entire chapters read as near verbatim text from one or more of these other authors.” Bourne (1906) amply documents extensive plagiarism in Carver’s Travels, although this practice was not uncommon at that time. For example, among Carver’s natural history accounts, much information on mammals is derived from Pierre Françoise Xavier de Charlevoix’s (1682–1761) Histoire et Description Generale de la Nouvelle France (1744), although that is not the case for his herpetological observations. I can find no outright instances of herpetological plagiarism, but descriptions in the Rattle Snake account (fang like a cat’s claw, green venom) are similar to the those from Kalm (1758), perhaps suggesting that Carver and his collaborators (see Kloss, 2018) were familiar with earlier accounts of rattlesnakes. The inclusion of the Lake Champlain two-headed snake, published originally by Bancroft (1769), tends to support the assumption that at least some of Carver’s observations were “borrowed” from other sources.

            Carver’s personal journal suggests important differences between his text and the published book, although many of the incidents described in the book appear to be true based on discoveries of his journals and letters (Kloss, 2018). Likewise, previous suggestions that Carver was barely literate seem inaccurate. Unfortunately, his herpetological accounts contain poorly described snakes, no locality data, and a substantial admixture of folklore that would have been commonly circulated at the time. As noted above, the most important contribution of Carver’s Travels to herpetology was the first widely disseminated report of a dicephalic snake in North America, and he did not find that!

Acknowledgments. – I thank Van Wallach for information on Carver’s dicephalic snake.


1. Jeffrey Amherst, 1st Baron Amherst (1717–1797), was a British Army officer and Commander-in-Chief of the Forces in the British Army. He advocated genocide against Native Americans, putting smallpox in blankets to distribute to First Nations peoples. Because of this, he is held in contempt by many Canadians and Americans today.

2. Benjamin Franklin’s interest in snakes extended beyond natural history, i.e., as an emblem for American independence. See Cook (1996).


Bancroft, E. 1769. An essay on the natural history of Guiana, in South America. T. Becket and P. A. De Hondt, London. 402 pp. [Lake Champlain snake account on p. 215; the illustration is a frontispiece to the book]

Bourne, E.G. 1906. The Travels of Jonathan Carver. American Historical Review 11(2):287-302.

Charlevoix, P. 1744. Histoire et Description Generale de la Nouvelle France, avec le Journal Historique d’un Voyage fait par ordre du Roi dans l’Amérique Septentrionnale. Tome Premier. Chez Rolin Fils, Paris. 543 pp. [Available at:]

Cook, K.S. 1996. Benjamin Franklin and the snake that would not die. British Library Journal 22:88–111.

Cutler, W. P., and J. P. Cutler. 1888. Life, journals and correspondence of Rev. Manasseh Cutler, LL.D. by his grandchildren. Vol. 1. Robert Clarke & Co., Cincinnati, Ohio. 524 pp. [Franklin’s two-headed snake account on pp. 268–269] [Available at:]

Kalm, P. 1758. An account of the Rattle-snake, and the cure of its bite, as used in North America. In A. von Haller (ed.), Medical, Chirurgical, and Anatomical Cases and Experiments, pp. 282–293. A. Linde, P. Davey and B. Law, and J. Staples, London. 293 pp.

Kloss, J. 2018. Jonathan Carver's "Travels Through The Interior Parts of North-America" (1778) - What's   Available Online? (Accessed 13 October 2022)

Langlois, T.H. 1964. Amphibians and reptiles of the Erie islands. Ohio Journal of Science 64:11–25.

Lawson, J. 1714. New Voyage to Carolina; Containing the Exact Description and Natural History of That   Country: Together with the Present State Thereof. And a Journal of a Thousand Miles, Travel'd Thro' Several Nations of Indians. Giving a Particular Account of Their Customs, Manners, &c., London. [Reprinted 1936, Garrett and Massie Publishers, Richmond, Virginia, 259 pp]

Parker, J. 1976. The Journals of Jonathan Carver and Related Documents, 1766-1770. Minnesota Historical Society, Minneapolis. 244 pp.

Wallach, V. 2007. Axial bifurcation and duplication in snakes. Part I. A synopsis of authentic and anecdotal cases. Bulletin of the Maryland Herpetological Society 43:57–95.

For Further Information on Jonathan Carver’s Travels:

The Project Gutenberg eBook of Travels through the Interior Parts of North America, in the Years 1766, 1767 and 1768, by Jonathan Carver. Produced by Sonya Schermann and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team. Release Date: August 21, 2015 [eBook #49753]. Available at

Gould, Heidi. Carver, Jonathan (1710-1780). MNopedia. (Accessed 11 October 2022)

Gregory, J.G. 1896. Jonathan Carver. His travels in the Northwest in 1766–8. Parkman Club Publishers (Milwaukee, Wisconsin) No. 5:73–101. [Available through the Hathi Trust;]


Submitted by: C. Kenneth Dodd, Jr.

Sunday, September 18, 2022

Bibliotheca Herpetologica 16(9)

Honegger, R. E. and D. G. Blackburn 2022. The Arrival of the Dragons of our Forefathers, or Some Remarks on Early [non-English] European Encounters with Exotic Reptiles. Bibliotheca Herpetologica 16(9):94–117. Published Sept. 18, 2022.

Reptiles always fascinated humankind: they stood for fear, superstition, and danger. With the publication of the first animal encyclopedia (1551–1587) by Conrad Gessner (1516–1565), the “Amphibians” (as they were called at that time) gained much attention in Europe. Giant reptiles, especially giant snakes and crocodiles, were of great interest – the former as descendants of the Dragons (sensu Gessner), and the latter as dangerous exotic man-eaters.

With the process of European colonization of tropical regions and the beginning of scheduled ship traffic, an increasing number of live, strange, unknown reptiles and other animals started to arrive at the ports of London, Amsterdam and later Hamburg. These animals were exhibited by wandering showmen, presented at markets and fairs, displayed in traveling menageries, lodged in royal courts, and eventually, housed in zoological parks. Accordingly, for hundreds of years, the European populace had opportunities to observe living reptiles from foreign lands. This situation represents an aspect of the public face of herpetological history that tends to be overlooked in academic studies, given that relevant written sources and printed materials are scarce, obscure, and difficult to access.

This account draws upon such sources to trace historical aspects of the early introduction of living reptiles from around the world into continental Europe. Features that are considered herein include the public display of such reptiles, their transport from abroad, and their maintenance in captivity. In addition to works in the primary and secondary literature, we offer documentary evidence in the form of the rare “broadsheets”, posters, newspaper articles, and advertisements that described public displays of reptiles in the 16th through 19th centuries

Saturday, September 3, 2022

Save the Date: ISHBH Business Meeting September 29

Dear ISHB Members,

The International Society for the History and Bibliography of Herpe­tology

Zoom Business Meeting on Thursday, 29 September 2022 at 12h00 Eastern Time (USA/Canada) = 18h00 Central European Time


Meeting Agenda ISHBH 2022 Zoom Business Meeting

 1. Opening of the meeting and welcome

2. Review and approval of the minutes of the Board Meeting of ISHBH (attached), with opportunity for questions from the membership

3. Review and approval of 2021 financial statement and proposed 2022-23 budget (attached)

4. Election of the Executive Committee for 2022-2024 (until the next Business meeting). Members may nominate themselves or others for a board position. If nominating another person please obtain their agreement to stand in advance.

5. Old business

6. New business
7. Closing of the meeting


Please note paid members for 2021 and/or 2022 and Life Members will receive a link to join the meeting via email about 27 September. This assumes that we have your correct email.

If you wish to attend the meeting on the 29th and don't receive the link email please send us an email  that says "Meeting Link Please" in the subject bar to 

Best wishes,

Aaron M. Bauer


Thursday, September 1, 2022

Wahlgreniana Volume 2

Now accepting orders - Publication date October 1, 2022

    The Bibliography of the Anurans of the United States and Canada Part 1: 1698–2012. Part 2: 2013–2021 was compiled largely as background material for Dodd’s The Frogs of the United States and Canada (First edition published 2013 by Johns Hopkins University Press; 2nd edition forthcoming from the same publisher), with the objective of developing a comprehensive reference to publications on the natural history of North American anurans. It focuses on life history, ecology, systematics, behavior, physiological ecology, diseases, parasites, and conservation biology, and includes important references on distribution and other topics useful to understanding frogs in their natural environment. Strictly physiological, developmental, and genetics citations have been excluded, as are routine new distribution records, especially when life history information was not included. Master’s theses and doctoral dissertations were included opportunistically as they were encountered. The two parts correspond to the cut-off dates for the two editions of The Frogs of the United States and Canada.
    This extraordinary compilation of the Anuran literature extends back to Gabriel Thomas’ (1698) mention of the bullfrog—the earliest reference to a specific species the author encountered—through 2021. Anyone working on the anurans of the United States and Canada will undoubtedly find numerous references to publications they didn’t know existed. This is exactly what bibliographies are meant for and this bibliography succeeds commendably.
    Available in two formats: A hardcover book and an eBook. The eBook allows for searches of the entire bibliography. To minimize problems utilizing the eBook, it is being distributed solely by existing eBook sellers (not by ISHBH).

Specifications:Hardcover (ISBN: 979-8-218-06245-3), x + 282 pages. Price: $35.00 retail; $21.00 for ISHBH members (plus $7.00 postage and handling). Ordering: Copies may be ordered at, or from most Online and physical bookstores world-wide.
eBook also available (ISBN: 979-8-218-06246-0). Retail price $9.99. The eBook version may be ordered from most eBook distributors Online.

Tuesday, August 30, 2022

A 1664 Account of Canadian Herpetofauna, including Perhaps the Earliest Mention of the American Bullfrog in North America

Histoire véritable et naturelle des mœurs & reproductions du pays de la Nouvelle France, vulgairement dite le Canada. Composé par Pierre Boucher, escuyer sieur de Gros-Bois, & gouverneur des Trois-rivières, audit lieu de la Nouvelle-France. A Paris, Chez Florentin Lambert, ruë Saint-Jacques, vis à vis Saint Yves, à l'image Saint Paul. 1664. 168 pp.


Figure 1. Title page of Boucher’s treatise on Nouvelle France, 1664.
Original copy online at the Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec ( Accessed 29 August 2022.


        There are very few accounts of the natural history of 17th Century North America that mention animals beyond those considered commercially valuable. Perhaps the earliest Canadian account is that of Pierre Boucher published in Paris in 1664. Pierre Boucher de Boucherville (born Pierre Boucher; 1 August 1622–19 April 1717) was a French settler, soldier, officer, naturalist, official, governor, and ennobled aristocrat in Nouvelle France. He emigrated from France in 1634 at the age of 18, and spent four years with the Huron missions at Georgian Bay where he learned native languages. Through the years, he rose from an enlisted soldier to captain, fought against and negotiated treaties with the Iroquois, and became governor-general at Trois Rivières in 1648. In 1661, he was sent to France to represent the colonies. Because of his outstanding service to the nation, Pierre Boucher was the first Canadian settler to be ennobled by King Louis XIV. Boucher was reappointed governor in 1662 and remained so until 1667. In 1664, he published his observations on Canada, focusing on the First Nations peoples and cultures, and on the flora and fauna of this vast new territory. He died in 1717 at Boucherville on the south shore of the St. Lawrence River in what is now a suburb of Montreal.

Herpetofauna in Boucher’s book is covered in three pages (pp. 65–67). Three snakes are mentioned based on color pattern. Rousseau and Legendre (1966) stated that Boucher only identified one species, the couleuvre à formettes. This is certainly Crotalus horridus, since Boucher noted that the Iroquois considered the species dangerous and had an herb they used to treat the bite. However, Boucher also mentioned a green and yellow species (likely Opheodrys vernalis) and a shiny black and white species (likely a composite of Thamnophis sauritus and T. sirtalis).

There is a brief mention of Lezards, a term in the 1660s used for both lizards and salamanders, but no details are provided. A full paragraph is devoted to the description of an aquatic frog, most assuredly Lithobates catesbeianus. Boucher stated that “elles meuglent le soir comme un boeuf” (they call at night like a bull) and that numbers calling together sound like a heard of wild cattle. He further noted that the call could be heard at a grand league, although people did not believe him when he told them that. A French league in the 1600s was about 3.9 km (Chandon, 1980).  Toads were noted as larger than those occurring in France; this observation almost certainly refers to Anaxyrus americanus. Beyond that, Boucher noted that there were many other species of anurans that resembled those he was familiar with in France, but he provided no details.

Although the accounts are brief and no distribution or natural history information is presented, Boucher’s account is one of the earliest mentions of an identifiable species of frog in North America, and suggests that C. horridus was well-known to First Nations peoples in areas where it has now been extirpated. However, his reference to “dans le pays des Iroquois” (in the land of the Iroquois) may refer to areas including upstate New York and Vermont where the species still occurs.


Chandon, R. 1980. The linear league in North America. Annales of the Association of American Geographers 70:129–153.

Rousseau, J., and V. Legendre. 1966. Poissons, Batraciens, Crustacēs, Insectes et Mollusques. Pp. 303–335 In Les Animaux du Canada en 1664. Le Faune Indigēne. Service de la Faune du Québec Bulletin No. 8.

Submitted by: C. Kenneth Dodd, Jr.

Saturday, July 2, 2022

Bibliotheca Herpetologica 16(8)

Bauer, A. M. 2022. Additions to the Herpetological Bibliography of Johann Gottlob Schneider and some Bibliographic Details of Der Naturfreund oder Beiträge zur Schlesischen Naturgeschichte. Bibliotheca Herpetologica 16(8):90–93. Published July 2, 2022.

Bauer and Lavilla (2022) recently published a translation of Historiae Amphibiorum, the greatest herpetological work of the German philologist and natural historian Johann Gottlob Schneider (1750–1822). In the associated introductory text, they provided a bibliography of Schneider’s published works comprising 127 books and articles. This bibliography had been compiled from a diversity of sources, both philological and biological. Almost immediately upon publication, however, I was made aware of several herpetological contributions by Schneider that had been omitted—all published in a single volume of a serial publication, Der Naturfreund oder Beiträge zur Schlesischen Naturgeschichte. These papers include no taxonomic novelties and largely repeat Schneider’s earlier treatments of the species he discussed, nonetheless, for the sake of completeness, they should be appended to Schneider’s bibliography.