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Long-eared hedgehog (Hemiechinus auritus),Turkmenistan



My first popular book in English, Dragon Songs, was published in October 2013 and then in softcover in 2018. Finding Mammals was published in Peterson Field Guides series in April 2015. Wildlife Spectacles was published in October 2016. The Secret Social Lives of Reptiles, with Gordon Burghardt and Sean Doody, was published in 2021. Findng Mammals in Japan, originally written in 2018, is constantly updated and available in PDF format.

The first and only sunrise of the year on the North Pole.

Dragon Songs is a popular narration of a study of crocodilian communication that I conducted as a graduate student in 2006-2011. Crocodilians are a group that includes crocodiles, alligators, caimans and gharials; they communicate using songs, dances, body language and even infrasound vibrations.

The project involved field research on twenty species in 26 countries, and a lot of adventures, sometimes dangerous, sometimes funny. I had to travel by small plane, armored personnel carrier, inflatable kayak, on horseback and on foot to get to the remotest corners of Africa, Asia and the Americas. Along the way I met lots of interesting people, from guerrilla fighters, cocaine smugglers and tribal warlords to dedicated environmentalists, brilliant scientists and even my future wife.

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A review in Publisher's Wheekly (PW awarded this book a Golden Star)

Finding Mammals in North America is a popular introduction to the art of mammal watching. It describes numerous methods of finding and safely observing mammals in the wild; provides a guide to the best mammal-watching locations in the USA, Canada, Greenland and Bermuda, and gives detailed recommendations for finding each of the continent's 450 species.

- If you spend a lot of time in forests, deserts or city parks but have never seen a shrew, a cougar or a big-eared bat;
- If you'd like to know where to see a blue whale, a polar bear or a kit fox up-close;
- If you want a more challenging addition to your birding hobby;
- Or if you simply wish to have a lot more fun outdoors;
This book is for you.

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Wildlife Spectacles is about the most interesting natural events of North America: wildlife migrations, breeding gatherings, mating rituals, predator-prey interactions and other wonders. Each chapter provides in-depth explanation of the reasons these spectacles happen the way they do, and tips on seeing them in the wild. In the rich, fully illustrated pages you×€™ll discover the migration of gray whales along the Pacific coast, the dancing alligators of the Everglades, the synchronized blinking of fireflies in Tennessee, the swarms of feeding bats over the Mississippi River, the blue-glowing scorpions of the Southwest desert, hundreds of wintering tundra swans in New Jersey, and much more.

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Finding Mammals in Japan is the only English-language guide to all of Japan's mammals. It includes:

1. A brief manual on travel in Japan, specifically written for professional and amateur naturalists;

2. An overview of the country's environment;

3. A guide to the best mammal-watching locations, with GPS coordinates provided for each one; interesting birds and other wildlife are also mentioned;

4. A species list with identification tips, natural history summary, and best finding locations for each of Japan's 200 mammal species, including such obscure ones as black beaked whale, Ryukyu bentwing, and Tokunoshima spiny rat. Of course, "popular" species such as Amami rabbit, Asian black bear, leopard cat, Japanese dormouse, pygmy sperm whale, and Japanese serow are also covered.

As it is a niche product, I decided to sell it as PDF file, rather than seek a publisher. You can buy it by sending me a check or wire transfer for US$25, or by sending US$27 to me by PayPal (to dinets@gmail).


Covering diverse species from garter snakes to Komodo dragons, this book delves into the evolutionary origins and fascinating details of the mysterious social lives of reptiles. Reptiles have been too often dismissed as dull animals with tiny brains and simple, "asocial" lives. In reality, they engage in a remarkable diversity of complex social behavior. They can live in families; communicate with one another while still in the egg; and hunt, feed, migrate, court, mate, nest, and hatch in groups. In The Secret Social Lives of Reptiles, J. Sean Doody, Vladimir Dinets, and Gordon M. Burghardt×€•three of the world's leading experts on reptiles×€•bring together a wave of new research with a synthesis of classic studies to produce the only authoritative look at the social behaviors of turtles, lizards, snakes, crocodilians, and the enigmatic tuatara. Enhanced with dozens of images, it takes readers through a myriad of social interactions, tendencies, and intimacies ranging from fierce territorial battles to delicate paternal care and from promiscuous pairings to monogamous partnerships.

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Below are a few popular books I originally wrote in Russian, translated into English and made available for free downloading. I translated some of them soon after I had moved to the US, so they could use some editing.

Hitchhiking in the Evil Empire
(USSR/CIS, 1986-97)
No-star Hotels
(Europe, 1993)
On a Wild Ass' Trail
(China & Tibet, 1993)
America Latina
(Latin America, 1995)
Wind in the Grass
(Mongolia, 1996)
(North America, 1997-2003)
Ramadan in Pakistan
(Pakistan and Afghanistan, 2004)
Altitude (a movie script, 1998) Islands of the Moon
(Madagascar, 2005)

Other stuff:

The Unknown Crocodiles
(my article in The Coservation)
Beginner's micro-guide to rainforest travel (2002, updated) Natural selection and the history of religions