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Distributed for Reaktion Books


A snake smells with its tongue, hears with its flesh, and breathes under the sand with one lung; it can copulate for days with one snake or with fifty at once; it has infrared radar; and it can induce spontaneous bleeding if threatened. With all these qualities, it is easy to see how snakes have such varied associations in cultures around the world: while celebrated in tattoos and tales, and for medicinal benefits, snakes are also so universally feared that they constantly endure intense persecution and rarely enjoy protected rights. Drake Stutesman explores here in Snake the fascinating natural history of the maligned serpentine.

Stutesman examines a wide range of sources to investigate the complex and widespread symbolism the snake has inspired, including the serpent’s temptation of Eve in the Bible, Kaa in The Jungle Book, the Chinese zodiac, Indian snake charmers, and the Hollywood film Anaconda. She looks at the role snakes have played in human culture and science, from snake cuisine and the use of venom in medicine to the intriguing history of snake symbolism in art, architecture, cinema, and even clothing. Richly illustrated and written in an engaging style, Snake is an invaluable resource for snake enthusiasts and scholars, as well as for all who love, admire, or fear this fascinating and enduring animal.

  Click here for a special, limited-time offer for the entire Animal series.

216 pages | 50 color plates, 52 halftones | 5.29 x 7.5 | © 2005


Biological Sciences: Natural History

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"Reaktion’s series of  ’Animal’ books . . . is forming a large and fascinating library of arcane knowledge about various species’ physiology and, more, about the cultural significance they’ve accrued since humans first joined them on this planet, 15,000 odd years ago. Skipping from the Sumerians to The Simpsons, Stutesman demonstrates what we’ve also most venerated and feared about snakes."

The Independent on Sunday

"A lively and lovely series. . . . This delightful series gives us animals as both alien and familiar. . . . An exhilarating, often astonishing and sometimes moving series of monographs."

Martin Levin | Globe and Mail

"A cornucopia of facts both trivial and important. . . . It is genuinely interesting."

Bruce Elder | Sydney Morning Herald

"The illustrations are superb. . . . Books like this prompt you to collect your favourite facts as you read."

Tim Dee | Times Literary Supplement

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