I’m sure that many of us have some great stories to share from our childhood from times when we were out and about in nature, trying to find a particular species we found interesting. I still manage to form stories like this all of the time in my adult life, thanks to both my job and my passion. A book I read some time ago now which reminds me of the times I spent on my hands and knees in the undergrowth looking for amphibians or reptiles is Richard Kerridge’s Cold Blood. We both have a very similar origin story except the years between us are very different and where Richard would capture animals to keep them, I’d just photograph them and admire their beauty. Cold Blood is a heart-warming memoir of a life spent in hot pursuit of British herpetofauna, one that I am personally jealous of. Cold Blood is different to most of the books I tend to read but it is more typical of the surge of nature writings that have been coming more popular and available in recent years.
Cold Blood does more than just connect the reader with Richard’s memories of chasing reptiles and amphibians. It romanticises them in a way that all naturalists will be familiar with in their own interest animals. Unfortunately amphibians and reptiles are not as bold, numerous or charismatic as a number of our bird species but the way this book is written, you’d never know. Each chapter is dedicated to a single species with sub-stories about friends and family that were brought along for the ride in Richard’s quest to find all the species he could. I did very similar things growing up, roping in my younger brother and even my nan sometimes to aid me in my quest to find more elusive species. I’m sure that many British herpetologists or naturalists with a fondness of newts or snakes will have had some very similar experiences to those of Richard Kerridge. Who knows? In a few decades maybe I’ll be recounting my days chasing the global herpetofauna in a book not much different from Cold Blood.