Wondering why some snakes play dead, what they eat and why on earth they have forked tongues? Find the answers to these and many other slippery questions in a brand-new snake guide for youngsters. By Arnold Ras

There’s no doubt: snakes are some of the coolest and most impressive species found in the wild. They might not have arms or legs, but they sport a bunch of other fascinating characteristics that make them unique. With snake expert Johan Marais’s first-ever snake guide for children, Kids’ Snakes of Southern Africa, both young and old alike will find joy in the ways and wonders of snakes.

The colourful 80-page field guide is cleverly divided into 16 categories: spitting snakes, travelling snakes, secretive snakes, house snakes, green snakes, tree snakes and more. Each section is packed with great pictures and just enough easy-to-understand information detailing each species’ breeding stats, habitat, food, behaviour, interesting facts and the reptile’s worst enemies. What really impresses is how the author transforms potentially tricky information into captivating reading material accessible to young minds.

Kids’ Snakes of Southern Africa is an invaluable read to introduce young nature lovers to the importance of snakes, conservation and the protection of our natural world. As Johan writes: “Seeing the enthusiasm of my daughter, Melissa, who grew up among reptiles, it was clear that children are far easier to educate and that snakes fascinate them. This book is long overdue and my wish is that many children will enjoy its contents, learn about snakes and pass their knowledge on to others, especially their parents.”

Wild asked 11-year-old Nasheeta Robinson from Cape Town to share her thoughts:

“I enjoyed the different categories like ‘picky eaters’. Some of the words are a bit difficult for children my age – I had to Google some words. There were lots of new things that I learned about snakes. I now know which snakes are venomous and which not. I also read about a puff adder that gave birth to 156 babies.”

Would you recommend this book?

“Yes. Boys my age would probably enjoy it more – I think most girls are scared of reptiles. But I love snakes. They are my favourite type of animal. I enjoyed the book so much, I finished it in two days. The colour pictures are also very cool.”

Kids’ Snakes of Southern Africa. Johan Marais. Struik Nature. 2018. R130. Also available in Afrikaans: Kinders se Slange van Suider Afrika.
Pictures courtesy of Struik Nature