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Rabbit Handbook: Purchase, Care, and Breeding, Understanding Rabbit Behavior, Second Edition
by Karen S. Gendron and Michele Earle-Bridges
(Barron's Educational Series, 2000)
144 pages
ISBN: 076411246

Unequivocally, The Rabbit Handbook: Purchasing, Feeding, Health Care, Housing, Understanding Rabbit Behavior is one of the best books around on caring for a pet rabbit. It covers a good range of topics on selecting, caring for, breeding, and showing rabbits. At 144 pages, it offers more depth and a wider range of information than many similar rabbit titles. The author, Karen Gendron, is a veterinarian in New England who specializes in small animals like rabbits. She also hosts a weekly call-in radio show about pets, "The Vet Line," on WESX in Salem, MA.

While geared more for pet owners, The Rabbit Handbook does offer a nice overview of topics of interest to beginning breeders and exhibitors. These topics include breeding procedures, an introduction to rabbit coat genetics, caring for a pregnant rabbits and a litter of kits, and exhibiting rabbits at an American Rabbit Breeders Association (ARBA) show.

The book starts out with a brief overview of the biology of a rabbit, which would be helpful for a school report on rabbits. This section of the book also covers the history of rabbits in the world, including the traditional link between rabbits and Easter and the use of rabbits in dog racing.

Basic issues found in most rabbit books, such as how to choose the perfect rabbit as your pet and how to handle one, are included. The book also looks at housing for rabbits (both indoor and outdoor), rabbit-proofing your home, litter-training, and grooming your bunny. The author gives many good tips, such as providing guidance on how to travel with your rabbit, acclimate your bunny to other pets, and deal with grief after a pet rabbit dies (including phone numbers for pet loss support hotlines).

The section on nutrition is excellent, covering not only Dr. Gendron's recommendations for a healthy diet for rabbits, but also reviewing other theories on how to feed a domestic rabbit. Unlike some books, Dr. Gendron's book acknowledges that different people have different ideas on the perfect rabbit diet, many of which can result in a healthy rabbit.

The section on health is also very good. It provides an overview of major illnesses, disorders, and injuries a rabbit can suffer with information on symptoms, causes, and how the problem is usually treated by a vet. This section also shows how to medicate your rabbit, including how to give them pills and eye drops (but not how to give them injections), and how to pull together a first aid kit. Like most books aimed at pet rabbit owners, this one advises rabbit owners to take their pets to a vet rather than try to diagnose and treat their rabbits themselves.

The book concludes with a very nice glossary.

One of the pleasures of a book on rabbits are the photos of cute bunnies, and this book doesn't disappoint. It has some very nice four-color photos of rabbits, although not as many other rabbit books. The emphasis in The Rabbit Handbook is on the text, rather than the illustrations. This is what makes the book superior to many other books on rabbits: the depth and range of information is better, making it a reference you can turn to again and again, rather than just an introduction to having a rabbit.

Dr. Gendron also has coverage of topics that aren't found in most other rabbit books, such as rabbit overpopulation and underpopulation in the wild. While most of us are familiar with the overpopulation of rabbits in such countries as Australia and New Zealand, the author asserts that some parts of the world, such as the New England area in the United States, suffers from an underpopulation - that wild rabbits and hares are losing their habitats due to development of land. You'll also find in this book such fascinating tidbits as the legend of the jackalopes and the names of rabbits the world over.

With a suggested retail price of under $11, The Rabbit Handbook by Karen Gendron is a terrific reference for a pet rabbit owner to have on hand.



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