I’ve read a lot of field guides to review for this website. I’ve amassed a lot of knowledge but still consider myself to be a beginner. This has resulted in me reading a lot of species profiles. Some are very user friendly; many are not. The Guide to Introduced Pest Animals of Australia has some of the best species profiles I’ve seen. In this review, I’ll explore whether you should add this book to your collection.
Species Profiles: In depth.
The Guide to Introduced Pest Animals of Australia is a to 60 introduced pest animal species present in Australia. It features:
- 27 mammals
- 18 birds
- nine freshwater fish
- two amphibians
- four reptiles
Each species profile is spread over 2 pages. They contain information to help you identify each species in the field, including distinctive physical characteristics, size, weight, colouration, diet, breeding behaviour, habitat preferences, and information about footprints, dung, scats and audible animal calls. You also get a map, information about the type of damage they can cause and the potential control options.
Most profiles contain two images but some may have more. The mammal section also includes hoofprints. This is pretty comprehensive for a field guide. I’m an avid birder and the species profiles go into more detail than most field guides.
The types of species included are varied. You get well known species, such as rabbits and foxes. You also get species such as blackbuck antelope, where no known populations exist in the wild.
The species profiles are biased towards both mammals and birds. These make up 75% of the content. If your primary focus is just identifying local animals then a specific field guide would probably be more helpful. The niche focus (introduced pests) means that it is mostly relevant for those involved in pest control.
The guide covers all of Australia, which means that the information will be more useful to those living in certain parts of the country. Many of the deer species seem to be limited to certain areas of South-Eastern Australia. Those in central Australia and the northern regions of Western Australia probably wouldn’t get as much out of it. This could change as ranges expand or new populations are established.
There also isn’t enough information regarding control options or what to do if a pest species is found. There are useful resources listed at the end of the book. This will be a particular struggle for amateurs. You’d have to track down additional information, especially in regards to any specific ecosystems you are monitoring.
Do I recommend it?
This is a very useful book and I’m very impressed with with it. However, I wouldn’t recommend it for most beginner naturalists.
I would recommend it for those involved in, or studying, the environment, wildlife or land management. It would be most useful for community based volunteer groups that have a strong focus on nature, such as ‘friends of’ groups and field naturalists clubs. It would also be helpful for those who want to support environmental causes but have little knowledge of any feral species.