Book Review: A Field Guide to the Larger Mammals of South America

Richard Webb and Jeff Blincow’s new Field Guide to the Larger Mammals of South America is a very welcome addition – and long overdue – addition to my bookshelf. Hard to believe that this is the first detailed guide to cover the continent’s 420 larger mammals (defined as “guinea pigs or bigger”). But it is not so hard to believe that it was Richard Webb and Jeff Blincow who managed to produce it. Richard was one of the first people to get in touch with me after I set up in 2005 and sent me a bunch of reports featuring species I thought were all but mythical back then, including Snow Leopard. He also pioneered mammalwatching trips to the Pantanal and Chile among other places. So he’s already made a major contribution to this passion of ours, and I’m delighted to see that Richard – along with Jeff – are not done yet making their mammalwatching mark. And thank you to both of them for mentioning in the foreword.

I’m also happy to see that they had lots of help from of the mammalwatching community who provided many of the 550 photos (with a special shout out to Rob Jansen who provided a fifth of them!).


The book itself is a solid field guide, with a page or so for most species featuring photographs and or over 100 new illustrations. Each species has an up-to-date range map and information to help ID what you are looking at including a habitat description and similar species. It should be tremendously helpful. It will also prove expensive as it has already reminded me of how much I still want to see.

Given the pace at which neotropical mammal taxonomy is evolving I can only imagine how much of a never ending task writing this must have felt at times: Sisyphus pushing his boulder up the same hill every day has nothing on producing an updated mammal field guide that includes neotropical primates! So, much as I would love to have seen something covering all the bats and rats too, I can well understand why the authors drew a line at guinea pigs (though I hear that Springer are working on a 15 volume set of books covering all of South America’s mammals … probably not very portable for your next Amazon adventure but exciting to hear).

You can order the book direct from Princeton University Press worldwide (currently on pre-order in the USA but already out in Europe … I don’t know about the rest of the world, sorry). It should also be available in many good book stores.


Post author

Jon Hall


  • charleswhood

    Amazon USA shows this being released 25 June 2024 in their markets; as of today, 07 June 2024, NHBS claims it is in stock in the UK. I asked for it in early May in multiple stores in London and none had it on hand — as always, mammal books remain understocked compared to bird books. Store managers can argue that they’re reflecting demand, but people can’t buy what they don’t know about; more people would buy mammal books if more stores would stock mammal books. And for site readers, even if you’re not going to South America in the near future, buying books like this anyway encourages publishers to want to release more books like it, which means when you do go to area x, at least there will be at least one book available. / Charles Hood

  • Griz

    I received my copy last week, so it is shipping.

  • JanEbr

    Pretty surprising to me that there are so many “large” mammals in South America – I guess a lot of that is all of the range-restricted primates? While this is a very nice book, I would really use the very opposite – a field guide to the small rodents! Because here in Europe, we have detailed materials to get tiny ID characteristics even for obscure species, but in South America, it’s often impossible to get even a genus for sure.

  • ChadJ

    This book might poison me with a lethal amount of fomo, but who am I kidding, of course I’m going to get it.

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