Book: Guide to Venomous Snakes

Montanans know all too well the dread-inducing buzz of a rattlesnake’s tail—and how these slithering serpents can cast a dark shadow over an otherwise glorious summer day. But did you know that like other poisonous snakes, rattlers have “mimic” species which look and act like them yet are perfectly harmless? In the U.S. Guide to Venomous Snakes and Their Mimics (Skyhorse Publishing, $15), author Scott Shupe describes how the rattler-resembling bullsnake (aka gopher snake) mimics the prairie rattlesnake by curling up and shaking its tail—an evolutionary adaptation that keeps predators at bay. Similar phenomena exist around the country, and Shupe delineates the entire spectrum of poisonous species and those that pose as such. Full-color photos throughout inspire awe or fear, depending on your level of ophidiophobia; either way, you’ll be that much wiser in the woods.