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Reader's Stories




Rabbits: A Complete Pet Owner's Manual
by Monika Wegler
(Barron's, 1999)
64 pages
ISBN: 0764109375

This attractive, small book has another subtitle: "Everything About Purchase, Care, Nutrition, Grooming, Behavior, and Training." While Rabbits doesn't literally cover "everything" about these topics, it does address them all. What the book lacks in depth of coverage it makes up for in range of topics of interest to a pet owner.

You'll get guidance on how to pick out the right rabbit for your household; how to select and set up housing (including a diagram of an outdoor hutch you can build); advice on what type of equipment (feeders, crocks, bowls, etc.) to provide for your bunny; what to feed your rabbit; and how to handle your pet properly. A brief section on litter-training will introduce you to the topic, although it really doesn't cover how to handle problems you might encounter during the process.

The book is filled with handy checklists, such as a list of typical accidents a rabbit can have and suggestions on how to prevent them; a pictorial of rabbit behavior with an interpretation guide; tips for traveling with a rabbit; and a meal plan for the typical pet rabbit. These checklists are really useful and interesting and help make up for the rather brief coverage of most parts of the book.

The section on health in particular is not extensive--it includes warning signs of when to take your pet to a vet, with very brief descriptions of a handful of common ailments. This section of Rabbits is one of the weakest parts of the book.

The same can be said of the section on breeding--the topic is covered in two pages. I chalk this up to the fact that the author wisely advises against breeding pet rabbits; however she does provides a little information on caring for a pregnant doe and baby rabbits to help readers who don't want to listen to her sage advice. A couple of very sweet pictures of baby bunnies are in the breeding section, however. While not strictly useful, these pictures are adorable!

Originally written in German by Monika Wegler, the book has been translated into English by a veterinarian, Helgard Niewich. The translation is excellent, making Rabbits easy to read and understand. One thing that really wasn't translated for readers in North America, however, is the classification of rabbit breeds. This book covers some European standards for classifying rabbit breeds. If you want information on how rabbit breeds are classified in North America, you're better off getting the ARBA Standard of Perfection, available at the ARBA web site.

All of the full-color photos in the book were taken by the author, and she's very talented in this area. These are some of the best candid shots of rabbits that I've seen, especially the ones of rabbits in motion. One shot of a rabbit grooming itself catches the tongue extended, making it look like the rabbit is petulantly sticking his tongue out at the reader. Another photo shows a rabbit in mid-gallop, all four feet suspended in air. Another rabbit caught in mid-yawn looks like he's laughing.

With a suggested retail price of under $7 for over 60 pages, Rabbits is a good introduction to having a rabbit as a pet. You'll find it easy, fast reading because of the number of checklists in the book. However, you probably won't find this book as useful if you have some experience with rabbits--a book such as Rabbit Handbook or House Rabbit Handbook will better suit your needs for a reference. And if you have any interest in breeding and showing rabbits, try Your Rabbit for a great introduction on how to do it right.





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