Tortoises, Lizards and Other Reptiles by David Le Roi

This small paperback was first published by Nicholas Vane in 1958. It was reprinted in 1974 by Kaye & Wards in their Pets of Today series; the cover was changed. My original copy disappeared some years ago but I recall its cover as green and black.


This was a small, cheap book with content typical of its time. It was well-written but with a number of elementary mistakes and some of the illustrations are very poor. For example, when scientific names were mentioned at all, they were often wrong (even allowing for the date) and the specific name started with a capital letter. The palmate newt appeared as ‘pelmate’ twice.

I have been able to find some information on David Le Roi. In the 1971 (6th edition) of The Author’s and Writer’s Who’s Who he is shown as David Le Roi MA, BSc, FIAL. He was born in San Francisco in 1905 and educated at Herriots (Edinburgh), Sydney Grammar School and Sydney University. He was married to Maude Alice Fox and they had one son. He was living in Thornton Heath in Surrey. In the 1991/92 (12th) edition of International Authors and Writers Who’s Who he is shown as a freelance journalist, writer and editor born in 1915 (typo for 1905?). He was editor of the New Universal Encyclopaedia (1945-49); executive editor of the Household Encyclopaedia (1950-51); assistant editor at Waverley Technical Publications (1962); executive editor, World of Wonder (1953-54); science and technical editor, Book of Knowledge  (1955-56); science editor Children’s Encyclopaedia (1957-59); science editor, chief feature writer and [when the entry to the directory was written] advisory science editor IPC Publications; editor at Marts Press (1977).

This is an advertisement for the book from Fishkeeping and Water Life which also appeared in The Aquarist (July 1958):


In 1991 he is shown as the author of 47 books ranging from technology, military and engineering subjects to pets and wildlife. His books on keeping animals were: Hamsters and Guinea Pigs (1955), The Aquarium (1955), Pigeons (1957), Tortoises, Lizards etc (1958), Cage Birds (1958), Cats (1963), Rabbits (1974), Mice and Gerbils (1976), Ponies and Donkeys (1976), Goats (1977). In 1971 he was shown as a contributor to a wide range of magazines from Eagle, the famous but boring Dan Dare comic (give me The Beano and Dandy every time) to Nursing Mirror and Farmers’ Weekly.

I have found a number of newspaper articles by David Le Roi from 1935 until 1939, nearly all from the north-east of Scotland. There is also reference to him in the Nottingham Evening Post of 27 August 1949 as ‘military historian, assistant editor and military adviser in the New Universal Encyclopaedia‘.  He died in 1987.

Because Le Roi refers to himself and his experiences throughout the book, I have no reason to believe that the author did not keep reptiles and amphibians, as might be inferred with a book from a professional writer.. It is also interesting that three figures on how to build a vivarium were taken from Household Encyclopaedia where he worked in 1950-51. Did he write something on keeping reptiles in that general publication?

The book can be downloaded below or from the Download page.

Tortoises, Lizards and Other Reptiles


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