Fieldguide to the Amphibians and Reptiles of Aruba, Curaçao and Bonaire
While translating the Dutch version of "de Amfibieen en Reptielen van Aruba, Curaçao en Bonaire" into English, I was forced to go through the entire text one more time, line by line. Thus it was inevitable that I ended up editing the text somewhat and adding to it as well. Since an English manuscript was now available, several people who had not been consulted previously could now give their comments, which have been incorporated in the English version. Thus the English translation is not a literal transcription of the Dutch version, although the differences between both versions are relatively minor. The islands of Aruba, Curaçao and Bonaire form part of a larger archipelago of islands along the Venezuelan coast. This archipelago includes all the islands from Los Monjes in the West to La Blanquilla in the East. The herpetofauna of the islands of Aruba, Curaçao and Bonaire should be viewed from this somewhat larger perspective. For this reason there are many references to the Venezuelan islands. Faunistic zones often transcend national borders. In this respect I have followed wagenaar hummelinck who in 1940 published the first general treatise of the herperofauna of this archipelago. My field guide is in large part based on this early work of wagenaar hummelinck (†).
This field guide is certainly not intended as a taxonomic work. Most guide books use slightly different classifications, sometimes all these differences can be quite exasperating. The latest classification is not necessarily the best, and some of the newer ideas have not gained general acceptance. In this English version the sub-species Leptodeira annulata bakeri and Crotalus durissus unicolor from the Dutch edition have been upgraded to full species status, in accordance with the prevailing taxonomic trends. I have simply tried to follow what seemed "the roads most traveled" and in many cases have indicated that other classifications also exist. In doing this I have certainly developed my own preferences, often siding with the "lumpers'', sometimes with the "splitters". I fully realize however that I do not have the expertise to make these kinds of taxonomic judgments, which are better left to others. It is however important to convey to the general public the idea that taxonomy has a subjective element and that taxonomy is not a static structure, but something that can change on the basis of new evidence or new interpretations. The field guide is also intended as a review summarizing available information on the herpetofauna of these islands. Local information on customs, beliefs and origins of local names has been included. The list of literature, cites many general works but is also intended to serve as a bibliography of the herpetofauna of the islands of Aruba, Curaçao and Bonaire. The sea turtles have not been included. In 1995 I published "De Schildpadden van Curaçao en Bonaire" (The turtles of Curaçao and Bonaire). This book was primarily intended for local use, one of its primary aims was to generate support for sea turtle protection. Since many books on sea turtles in the region already exist, there is no special need to translate this book into English.
Author's note, November 2017: This guide is somewhat outdated; some scientific names have changed, new invasive species have established themselves, at least on Curaçao, and of course new literature has appeared. Actually, a new edition is needed.