Snakes of Europe/Preface
THERE is no work in the English language dealing with the Reptiles of Europe. I have therefore endeavoured to supply this desideratum, so far as the Snakes are concerned, by drawing up in a concise form an account of what is known of their characters, their distribution, and their life-histories. Professor Sordelli, of Milan, having kindly acceded to my request to reproduce some of the beautiful figures drawn by him for the work published in collaboration with the late Professor Jan under the title of "Iconographie Generale des Ophidiens". I have been able to supplement my descriptions with illus- trations which leave nothing to be desired from the point of view of accuracy. A few drawings have been made specially for this book by Mr. J. Green. I have further to acknowledge the permission given by the Trustees of the British Museum, the India Office, and the Zoological Society, to reproduce a few figures from previous publications of which I am the author.
In order to render this little book more useful, the account of the Snakes of Europe has been preceded by an Introduction summarizing what is known of Snakes generally.
I have purposely avoided overburdening a work of this kind, which aims at concision, with bibliographical references and synonymic lists. I am sure my readers will be thankful for being spared this display of erudition. Whenever I have had to compile, and to trespass on ground that is not my own, I have been careful to draw only from the writings of the most trustworthy authorities. The descriptions of the species are based on the collection in the British Museum, which has been considerably increased since the publication of the Catalogue of Snakes (1893-1896). I have also had access to Monsieur F. Lataste's rich private collection, now under my care, and Dr. R. Gestro has kindly entrusted to me for study the collection of Italian Snakes in the Genoa Museum. I am indebted to Dr. L. W. Sambon for the chapter on Parasites, which he has written at my request.
To all who have helped me I beg to tender my
The Snakes of Europe