Menu Close

Secrets of Snakes


Winner, 2020 National Outdoor Book Award, Nature and the Environment.

“It is hard to imagine a nature book being more fun.”

Snakes inspire extreme reactions. Love or hate these limbless reptiles, almost everyone is fascinated by them. Although snakes are widespread and frequently encountered, they may be more misunderstood than any other group of animals. From giant rattlesnakes to mating dances, there are dozens of myths and misconceptions about snakes. In Secrets of Snakes: The Science beyond the Myths, wildlife biologist David Steen tackles the most frequently asked questions and clears up prevailing myths.

In a conversational style with a bit of humor, Steen presents the relevant biology and natural history of snakes, making the latest scientific research accessible to a general audience. When addressing myths about snakes, he explains how researchers use the scientific method to explain which parts of the myth are biologically plausible and which are not.

Steen also takes a close look at conventional wisdom and common advice about snakes. For example, people are told they can distinguish coralsnakes from non-venomous mimics by remembering the rhyme, “red on black, friend of Jack, red on yellow, kill a fellow,” but this tip is only relevant to coralsnakes and two mimics living in the southeastern United States, and it does not always work with other species or in other countries.

Enhanced by more than 100 stunning color photographs and three original drawings, Secrets of Snakes: The Science beyond the Myths encourages readers to learn about the snakes around them and introduces them to how scientists use the scientific method and critical thinking to understand the natural world.

What People Are Saying

“It’s one of those rare nature books that works even for those who don’t read nature books…wildly entertaining…It is hard to imagine a nature book being more fun.” – Cool Green Science

“Well-written, entertaining, and full of great information. There is something in the book for everyone from seasoned herpetologists to K-12 students.” – Biological Conservation

“He writes in an approachable, conversational manner that allows accessibility for a range of experiences, but with enough detail, including scientific names and where they came from, to make it truly useful for a broad audience…an excellent book and worth stocking in every library.”  – Herpetological Review

“I found much enjoyment reading this book…Steen has done a wonderfully creative job of writing an informative and interesting work…” – The Quarterly Review of Biology

“…enlightening without being overly academic, perfect for anyone who wants to learn about the fascinating world of snakes.”  – National Outdoor Book Awards

“Genuinely fun.”  – Species Podcast

“…a pleasure to read…kept me interested throughout the book with various stories from the field and anecdotes from research on the various topics.” – Canadian Field Naturalist

“Fun and informative.” – The Revelator

“This is the perfect book for anyone interested in learning more about snakes.” – Melissa Amarello, Executive Director of Advocates for Snake Preservation.

“This is a book that needs to be in every library on this continent.” – Jonathan Crowe

“Enjoyable and informative and just plain fun to read.” – John MacGregor, Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources.

“Light, conversational and frequently humorous…it will prove to be a valuable asset.” – Bulletin of the Chicago Herpetological Society

Secrets of Snakes is exactly what science communication should look like.” – The Bio Observer

“I highly recommend getting a copy.” – Mike Van Valen, Wild Snakes: Education and Discussion

From Amazon reviews:

  • “What a great book!! The author has a real talent for taking science & biology and making it easy and fun to understand.”
  • “This is such an accessible and engaging book.”
  • “This book is so wonderfully written that people from the level of snake-researchers to those that simply know that snakes are slithery reptiles will understand and learn several amazing things about snakes.”

Find more reviews on GoodReads.

Available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or wherever else you buy or borrow books. 

  • Paperback: 184 pages
  • Publisher: Texas A&M University Press; First edition (September 23, 2019)

Want a signed copy? Send $30 via PayPal (includes shipping and handling to US destinations). Please include your shipping address in the notes and let me know if there any special instructions (or it will just be my name and the date); send me a message if you have any questions or need to mail a check. Don’t have PayPal? Try me on Venmo (David-Steen-4).