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Richard Conniff

Swimming with Piranhas at Feeding Time

If you're interested in natural history and the lives of animal then you'll find plenty of books about the 'poster species', but Swimming with Piranhas at Feeding Time: My Life Doing Dumb Stuff with Animals is somewhat different. In it Richard Conniff tells of his involvement with some of the less well covered wildlife around our planet.

Indeed Conniff feels he has to apologise in the chapter on cheetahs; they're much too iconic. He seems more at home with wild dogs - he lets one sniff the back of his neck, despite their reputation for visciousness. The book consists of 23 short chapters on all manner of animals - quite a lot of insects, a few primates, but also jellyfish, hummingbirds and the (mythical?) migoi of Bhutan. There's a chapter on tracking leopards with !Kung San bushmen, who can reconstruct the details of leopard behaviour from just a few footprints. And then there are the piranhas: yes Conniff really did swim with them, and found that their reputation as killers is hugely exaggerated (just as well really).

The book is amusing, but it also carries a serious message - conservation isn't just about big campaigns or a few well known species, there's a lot of important work that is done that you don't often get to hear about. It's an easy to read book, but has plenty of interesting material on the lives of animals and those who study them, and I would say it deserves a wide readership.

Amazon.com info
Paperback 304 pages  
ISBN: 0393304574
Salesrank: 2366711
Published: 2010 W. W. Norton & Company
Amazon price $7.15
Marketplace:New from $3.56:Used from $2.00
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Amazon.co.uk info
Hardcover 304 pages  
ISBN: 0393068935
Salesrank: 2808954
Weight:0.8 lbs
Published: 2009 W. W. Norton & Company
Marketplace:New from £19.47:Used from £1.73
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Amazon.ca info
Paperback 304 pages  
ISBN: 0393304574
Salesrank: 484430
Weight:0.6 lbs
Published: 2010 WW Norton
Amazon price CDN$ 12.04
Marketplace:New from CDN$ 11.78:Used from CDN$ 0.01
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Product Description

“Hilariously informative. . . . This book will remind you why you always wanted to be a naturalist.”―Outside

In this thrilling foray into the animal kingdom, Richard Conniff takes readers on an adventure-packed journey as he courts the most dangerous animals and lives to tell the tale. He lets African wild dogs sniff his neck to test the idea that they are vicious man-eaters, sticks his hand in a fire ant mound and does multiple takes for a pretty camerawoman on a television shoot, and flings chicken carcasses into piranha-infested waters to clock how quickly they disappear―before diving in himself. This collection offers a rare chance to go along on these death-defying treks and see life through the eyes of a bona-fide field naturalist.