MG Book Review: Something Rotten: A Fresh Look at Roadkill by Heather L. Mongomery

Roadkill is disgusting. Even though I can’t imagine picking up a tire-tread-marked carcass, scientists do it all the time because it contains valuable information.

Heather L. Montgomery’s obsession with roadkill began with a squashed rattlesnake. She wanted to know how rattlesnakes’ fangs retract. She decided that a dead rattlesnake was a lot safer to study than a live one. That got her thinking about what other things scientists could learn from roadkill. She discovered that researchers use roadkill to learn more about animals’ diseases, DNA, mating habits, migration, and diet.

There’s lots of gross stuff in this book for those that are fascinated with gross. In one chapter, Montgomery describes her first attempt at taxidermy in gory detail. You might want to read this chapter before lunch.

Scientists also use roadkill data to help reduce the amount of roadkill. Wildlife/vehicle collisions kill over one million animals a day in the United States. One chapter is devoted to methods that various wildlife communities are doing to make our roadways safer for animals. Montgomery’s love of science is only surpassed by her love of animals. Her sadness at learning that so many are killed each year is expressed tenderly.

This book could almost be titled: Diary of a Roadkill Warrior. This is basically Montgomery’s personal journey of discovery to satisfy her insatiable curiosity about roadkill. And we get to ride along with her and her wonderful sense of humor to some disgusting places. Fun non-fiction for everyone even if you have a weak stomach.

Recommended for readers 12 and up.

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