Having spent years studying turtles in their native habitats, Archie Carr brought together a wealth of information in this celebrated volume. Organized in clear and concise fashion, written in an engaging and lively manner, and furnished with black-and-white photographs, drawings, and maps, Handbook of Turtles (first published in 1952) gives a comprehensive summary of 79 species and subspecies of North American turtles. In the foreword to 1995 paperback edition, J. Whitfield Gibbons, renowned ecologist and natural history author, brings the book into historical perspective and supplies information to bring it up to date.
In the introduction, Carr considers such topics as turtle physiology, reproduction, growth, adaptation, and behavior. The introduction also includes discussions of methods for collecting specimens, the evolutionary origins of turtles, and the mythology and folklore surrounding the turtle. The second part of the volume is organized according to keys that give identifying characteristics, life histories, and illustrations of each species. Under headings of geographical range, distinguishing features, description, habitat, habits, breeding, feeding, and economic importance, the volume provides detailed accounts of the various species and subspecies. Throughout Carr offers colorful recollections and anecdotes about his fieldwork and research.