The keeping of invertebrates in Australia has been becoming more and more popular, almost in tandem with the popularity of reptile keeping. Sadly, most available texts concentrate on one or two main invertebrate types—spiders and scorpions—and promptly ignore the rest. This book is the exception. Its format is a little quirky, starting with a brief introduction including why and where to obtain insects and then rushes straight into an extremely comprehensive species section before finishing with basic husbandry, feeding, enclosures and displays. The detail in each species chapter is so comprehensive that the last part of the book serves mainly to provide inspiration in keeping methods and tips and tricks. The species chapters—Care Guides—cover Ants, Beetles, Butterflies and Moths, Cockroaches, Crickets and Katydids, Grasshoppers, Mantids, Phasmids, True Bugs, Wasps, Primitive Spiders, Modern Spiders, Scorpions, Centipedes, Millipedes, Snails and Slugs. In all honesty, I had never considered half of the 100+ species covered as even being suitable for captivity but here you will find details on eeding, breeding, routine care (set out as daily, weekly, monthly and as required), sexing, lifespan, captive behaviour and housing. The basic needs are highlighted with little ‘buttons’ that allow information to be accessed quickly. Warning buttons are presented when any species poses a risk to children or inexperienced keepers. The images in the text are quite basic with usually one image per page but the clarity is such that the image shows all the elements of that species or whatever technique it was trying to portray. The images become more prevalent towards the husbandry end of the book. In the Husbandry section, the text is arranged in order of Housing, Food and Water, Health and Display followed with a comprehensive glossary. Beyond the individual species chapters, the housing and feeding sections are my favourite. Some of the ideas and tips provided are quite brilliant and would be worth remembering even for keepers of small reptiles such as geckos. The Health section is quite comprehensive and opened my eyes to diseases I never considered likely to be an issue in invertebrates. I have always liked invertebrates but have thought their housing to be somewhat boring. The step by step ideas outlined in the display section help even the most novice keeper transform a basic tank into a display habitat with minimal cost and effort. These are presented as specific case studies using a range of building materials. As a rank amateur, this book is a 200 page one-stop-shop that will put you in the position of being able to choose dozens of options on what to keep and then do it properly. As an experienced keeper, the authors have provided additional information from their own experiences that will make this book worthwhile to own and excellent value for money. I would also suggest that gecko, pygopod, small skink and small dragon keepers look at the husbandry and housing section for some excellent ideas.
Written By: Alan Henderson, Deanna Henderson and Jesse Sinclair