Unusual Pets by Clinton Keeling

Unusual Pets by Clinton Harry Keeling (1932-2007) was published in 1958 in the Foyles Handbooks series. A reprint with a different cover was published in 1969 and I suspect it only went out of print in the mid-1970s. At the time of writing Clin and his then wife Jill owned and ran Pan’s Garden, a very small zoological garden (Clin loathed the word ‘zoo’) in the village of Ashover, Derbyshire. I will cover the general and my personal knowledge of him in later articles.

Once commonly available from sellers of old books, Unusual Pets is less often seen in the numbers that were once around. I think that is because the binding of this series disintegrated so quickly that covers and pages became detached.

The Downloads page now contains the reptile and amphibian chapters from his book.

Cover of the original 1958 book

Cover of the Original Edition

The 1969 Reprint

The 1969 Reprint


Herpetology in General Books on Keeping Animals

So far I have covered the books on keeping amphibians and reptiles that were published in the first two-thirds or so of the 20th Century. More general books also covered this topic. I noted in a post on David Le Roi that he incorporated in his book three diagrams on how to build a vivarium from Household Encyclopaedia, a publication on which he worked in 1950-51. Information on how to keep reptiles and amphibians was included in the book by Margaret Shaw and James Fisher that was fatuously titled Animals as Friends and How to Keep Them. It was first published (by J.M. Dent & Sons, London) in 1939, revised in 1952 and again in 1953; the reprint I have is dated 1957. Shaw and Fisher worked together at the London Zoo in the 1930s and were frequent contributors to Zoo (later retitled Zoo & Animal) magazine, on which there will be more information later. Much of the information was gathered from the keepers at the zoo and, as an aside, show diagrams of cages that were used in the old Rodent House, that were actually ideal for keeping such mammals.

This is a photograph of Margaret Shaw I found in Animal and Zoo Magazine (December 1938 issue):


I have found no other information on Margaret Shaw.

The other book to which I should draw attention is the general one by Maxwell Knight, Pets Usual and Unusual, first published by Routledge and Kegan Paul, London) in 1953. I have already described his book devoted to reptiles, amphibians and aquaria.

The chapters on herpetology from both of these books can be found in on the Downloads page.

Keeping Reptiles and Amphibians in the 1930s: Bazaar Exchange & Mart

Where there any articles about keeping reptiles and amphibians in any other British magazines other than The Aquarist and Pondkeeper and Water Life in the 1930s? There was the occasional article in Zoo & Animal Magazine of the late 1930s (more on this topic in later posts) with which Water Life merged shortly after the outbreak of the war. A possibility is that there were articles in Bazaar Exchange & Mart, then a magazine for collectors carrying classified advertisements for livestock and pretty well anything else as well. The only clue that it may have contained articles on keeping animals or at least answering queries on keeping animals is that Jack Hems was described as Query (Aquaria) Expert to Exchange & Mart (Bazaar was dropped from the title) before the Second World War. The only copy of Bazaar Exchange & Mart I have, from 1935, has articles on collecting things from Chinese art and porcelain to match box labels but contains only advertisements for livestock, including this one for Gamages, the London department store.


In the later decades of the 20th Century, Exchange & Mart was the hardcopy eBay/Gumtree of its day, with classified advertisements for anything and everything. For a period, reptiles and amphibians were advertised there extensively, sometimes by some pretty unwholesome characters who all too often fall within the category of ‘animal dealer’. It ceased publication a few years ago but lives on as an online site for selling used cars.