In Animal Snoops, Peter Christie offers a colourfully illustrated account of sneaky animal behaviour, with loads of examples of wild animals eavesdropping, deceiving, and, yes, snooping their way to the best meals and mates. For instance, did you know that a white stork will stand silently and listen for the mating call of a moor frog, then snatch up the amorous little amphibian with its long bill?
The book provides the reader with a number of such tales, including some “facts of life” takes on the birds and the bees (both metaphorical and literal). Male European robins, we learn, wait to hear the frantic cheeps of a neglected female, then swoop in when “the time is right for a secret encounter” – no love lost here. “Wild snoops are impressive secret agents on a constant mission of survival,” writes Christie.
Along with the wildlife photography on every page, the book is replete with whimsical illustrations by Cat MacInnes: a red-bottomed baboon listens in on mating pairs with a high-tech satellite; a squirrel wearing a trench coat digs a hole to hide his stash of seeds. Throughout the book, a stealthy green parrot named Marshmallow, whom we meet in the introduction, acts as our guide. As endearing as he is, the effect is cheapened when the same illustrations are repeated throughout the book.
This is Christie’s third book about animal behaviour, following Well-Schooled Fish and Feathered Bandits and Naturally Wild Musicians, and the tone throughout is playful and identifiable. Of one particular animal snooping scenario, he writes, “It’s like having conversations on Facebook that every one of your friends – and maybe some of your enemies – can read.”
For the truly curious, and for students writing school reports or doing projects, Christie has included an index and further reading suggestions, but even without these, Animal Snoops is both informative and visually appealing.