Field guide review: Larger mammals of South America

A field guide to the larger mammals of South America – Princeton University Press 2024

This field guide review was written by Chris Lotz on 15 June 2024.

mammals of South America

This is the most comprehensive field guide available to the mammals of South America. It excludes all bats, rats and mice, but does include everything from guinea pig size upwards, such as squirrels, agoutis, skunks, armadillos, monkeys and so forth. Even with all the very small species excluded, the book still weighs about a kilogram (two pounds) so I’d think twice about packing it and carrying it around on a wildlife watching trip.  

It’s primarily a photographic field guide, including some rarely photographed mammals, with only a few species illustrated by excellent paintings, when no photos are available. In the case of the many titi monkeys and marmosets, very useful comparative plates of paintings nicely complement the photos.

Each mammal species gets a full page in this book dedicated to it, including one or two photos, a distribution map and text with headings “Description”, “Similar species”, “Habitat” and “Distribution”. The “Distribution” sections largely duplicate the maps, but do sometimes add facts such as whether the species’ range extends into Central America.

Apart from the species accounts, this book also contains informative descriptions of each South American mammal family such as capuchins, squirrel monkeys, dogs and foxes, cats, eared seals, etc.

All in all, I certainly recommend this book for those who want to study for their wildlife trip to South America, and to have a book with them in the field to identify what they see during their trip. It will also make a great coffee table book for people who want to learn, from the comfort of an armchair at home, about the weird and wonderful mammalian denizens of South America – from bald red-faced monkeys to smaller and more poorly known cats, to the various opossums, armadillos and porcupines.

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