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Condition: Used: Good
Comment: The item shows wear from consistent use, but it remains in good condition and works perfectly. All pages and cover are intact (including the dust cover, if applicable). Spine may show signs of wear. Pages may include limited notes and highlighting. May include "From the library of" labels.
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Swimming with Piranhas at Feeding Time: My Life Doing Dumb Stuff with Animals Paperback – June 28, 2010

4.6 out of 5 stars 13 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Travel writer and field naturalist Conniff (Rats) shares such outrageous vignettes from his career as feasting on warthog sausage with an occasional side of beetle larvae, having insects copulate on his forehead and communing with packs of African wild dogs. His acute descriptions and self-deprecating humor keep such sections riveting, but the chapters profiling other experts' research and involvement with various species read a bit laboriously. Particularly tedious is his investigation into Madagascar's lemurs with Patricia Wright, a housewife-turned-primatologist, who names the lemurs and spends nights in the forests observing them. Conniff's perspective is nowhere to be found in this chapter, only a historical and contemporary account of Wright's experiences and her effort to preserve the lemur colonies. Readers will likely crave more chapters spotlighting Conniff's personal experiences of the animals and his keen wit and insights. (May)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

Nature writer Conniff has traveled all over the world to climb mountains, follow African wild dogs, watch hummingbirds in an Arizona backyard, and, yes—swim with piranhas. While following the African wild dogs, which have a reputation as predators unafraid to attack humans, Conniff gets out of his Land Rover and sits near three dogs. Two yearlings approach, but an adult walks right up to the author—and sniffs him. A visit to an entomologist reveals the self-named Justin O. Schmidt Pain Index, a guide to just how painful insect stings really are (as sampled by Mr. Schmidt, who’s been stung by at least 150 different species). New Orleans gets battered not only by hurricanes but by a much more insidious enemy, termites, and Conniff learns that there are two different kinds of houses—those that have termites and those that will have termites. And, finally, that swimming with the piranhas part: with red swim trunks in a public aquarium tank and amid chummed beef liver in the Amazon, Conniff survived this watery visit. Delightfully addictive, read this one for natural-history fun. --Nancy Bent --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company (June 28, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0393304574
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393304572
  • Product Dimensions: 5.6 x 0.8 x 8.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,874,007 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Swimming with Piranhas at Feeding Time: My Life Doing Dumb Stuff with Animals blends science, humor and observation to explore the behaviors and oddities of all kinds of animals, from lemurs that eat cyanide to your local friendly piranha whose ferocity has been mistyped. Little-known truths about exotic species are imparted in a fine field survey following biologists' animal studies and favorite experiences - all seasoned by the author's often-humorous, personal observations. Any general collection catering to lay readers of science facts and animal oddities will find this an accessible, popular lend.
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Format: Hardcover
OK, So I only took Biology 101 in college 35 years ago, because I wasn't into that kind of thing, but needed it for a requirement. This book is a page-turner--I could hardly put it down. Richard Conniff writes with a definite attitude and strange sense of humor--this was right up my alley. He should be lecturing at some college or high school on a regular basis--there would be standing room only--including those not even officially enrolled in the class.
His real life accounting of his adventures out in the world of nature is truly fascinating. Ever wonder about how all of the animal species/genuses are named? This will help you understand why it's sometimes 'a revenge business' amongst the nerdy folks who discover them and then are awarded 'naming rights'. Perhaps we need these people naming all of our sports arenas--would definitely be more entertaining than The 'Sprint' or 'Staples' Center. How about the sex habits of ants? Yep, it's in there, along with lots of other cool yet factual explanations about what's happening out there in the world of nature that we aren't normally aware of.
Buy this book!
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Format: Paperback
Richard Conniff reminds us in a firsthand way that we live in a much broader animal ecology than we think we do. We are seriously outnumbered, and in some cases, out-strategized, especially by insects — ants, bees, mosquitos, you name it. With ants in particular, it seems like we are living in their world, not vice versa.

The book is a collection of essays. It is oriented mainly around the theme of the broader ecology we are part of but rarely pay sufficient attention to. It’s not about scientific understanding so much as just understanding at a layman’s level what’s going on in the worlds and minds of the animals that live around and among us.

Some animals’ reputations are overblown. Piranhas turn out not to be the voracious leg-nibblers we thought they were. Cheetahs can be, and sometimes are, domesticated. Spiders are certainly great web-spinners, but their kill rate isn’t very good.

On the other hand, hummingbirds may look delicate and fairy-like, but, as Conniff says, they may be among the meanest of warm-blooded animals on earth — “fighter pilots in small bodies”.

Conniff is very easy on the brain. He’s easy to read, he’s engaging, he’s self-effacing, . . . He seems like a guy you’d love to know. And, unlike some of the animal whisperers we see on television, he’s not all about himself. Many of the stars in this book are like Justin Schmidt, who has turned his experiences being stung by venomous insects into an authoritative “Justin Schmidt Pain Index, a connoisseur’s guide to just how bad the ouch is on a scale of one (‘a tiny spark’) to four (‘absolutely debilitating’)."

This is an entertaining book — the kind you learn from, but you learn painlessly.
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Format: Hardcover
Richard Conniff got a lot of public attention recently when he wrote a column called "The Consolation of Animals" for the NYT. It discussed how much of his career has sent him to remote parts of the globe to study strange forms of life -- but due to the state of the world, he's been traveling a little less. So he started studying the creatures and biology around his house. The ecosystem he described struck a chord with a lot of readers -- not least for the pitch perfect descriptions and writing. It was an excellent piece, but people might have forgotten that no one does gonzo natural world adventures better than Conniff. And THIS BOOK is all about the FUN stuff. And there is much fun stuff to be had. Check it out for the story behind those National Geographic articles where the author is blithely waltzing through the rainforest. It definitely proves even top science writers can have a touch of the Wildboyz.

[...]
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Coniff is a good writer, very eloquent and it shows in the language - effective in conveying the mood, and humorous. However there were more misses than hits for me in this collection of essays about various animal groups from microbes to mammals. Also, I often found the insights into his day to day work experience, his notes from the field if you will, more interesting than the main articles themselves.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I was't quite sure what this book would be like, and I put off reading it for a while (waiting until 'I felt like it'), but once I started, I couldn't stop! Even though it's a real page-turner, it's written in such a way that it's perfect as a 'palate cleanser' between other books. Each chapter is less than 10 pages long, is entirely self-contained and relates to a single subject. The author's style is very easygoing, amusing, and somewhat self-deprecatory. These are not stories about *animals*, but *stories* about animals and the people who study them. Every chapter is full of fascinating trivia and ancedotes. The scientists are all real 'characters', and their love/admiration for the animal they study shines through clearly. I bookmarked several chapters to share with different friends, depending on their interests.

A definite 'must read' for just about anyone, of any age. No blood, no gore, no sad endings - just the tales of some quirky people who have dedicated their lives to studying other creatures, great and small, likeable and not, endangered or plentiful, wild or captive. As another reviewer said - buy this book!
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