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Biology and Medicine of Rabbits and Rodents

Thu, 09/30/2010 - 6:58pm
Sandra L Jex, DVM

CoverHarkness and Wagner’s Biology and Medicine of Rabbits and Rodents, Fifth Edition was published by Wiley-Blackwell in 2010. The authors include John E. Harkness, Patricia V. Turner, Susan Vande Woude, and Colette L.Wheler in collaboration with the American College of Laboratory Animal Medicine (ACLAM). Social interest and medical advances in laboratory medicine in addition to the novelty of small rodents as pets have necessitated adding topics to address current values and public interest. The updated version of the text is written for veterinarians both in small animal practices and the laboratory setting, animal care personnel, and the interested rabbit and rodent enthusiast.

The book contains six chapters which detail husbandry, biology, clinical procedures, clinical signs, differential diagnoses, specific conditions, and many case reports. An overall general husbandry and disease prevention introduction begins the study of rabbits and more commonly seen small rodents in the laboratory and small animal practice. Subsequent chapters specify information regarding each species independently.Not only rabbit but guinea pig, chinchilla, hamster, gerbil,mouse, and rat species are discussed in separate headings where indicated. Gray tabs on the page edges act as useful quick section reference, denoting each chapter. References including websites are found throughout each chapter and an extensive index follows the text, allowing the reader to quickly locate specific data.

“Chapter 2: Biology and Husbandry”discusses various topics such as a description of the rabbit or rodent, particular unique physiologic features, the rabbit or rodent as a pet, basic health requirements of each species, public health concerns, and the animal’s use in research.

“Chapter 3: Clinical Procedures” is a tremendously useful section which highlights key techniques such as sample collection, ophthalmology, dentistry, drug administration, formulary tables, common surgical procedures, and euthanasia. Practical discussions are enhanced with many black and white photographs and tables of physiologic reference values, drug dosages, and useful hints associated with each species. For instance, step-by-step photo sequences illustrate the proper technique to catheterize a rabbit or castrate a guinea pig.

“Chapter 4: Clinical Signs and Differential Diagnoses” discusses some of the most frequently observed signs and symptoms seen in rabbits and rodents, categorized by species. Tables of commonly presenting clinical signs and differential diagnoses help to narrow the search for accurate testing and diagnosis along with photographs depicting some of the more routinely seen symptoms including necropsy findings.

Several public health concerns are addressed in Chapter 4 as well as in “Chapter 5: Specific Diseases and Conditions” which covers frequently encountered medical issues in the laboratory and private practice. Pet rabbits and rodents often live longer than laboratory animals, and with age come additional medical problems not encountered in the laboratory. Fur and food production animals suffer additional stresses brought on by intensive raising practices which may create its own unique health issues.

The Case Reports section allows the reader to test their knowledge learned in the preceding sections with case presentation, followed by questions designed to highlight key points discussed in the text. The ability to ask the right questions allows the clinician to chose the correct diagnostic tests and identify cause of illness, again, which can vary with the animal’s environment.

Biology and Medicine of Rabbits and Rodents, Fifth Edition is an invaluable tabletop resource for veterinarians, veterinary students, animal care technicians, and rabbit and rodent hobbyists. The format is well designed, easy to read, and provides clear and concise information with reference to the most frequently encountered procedures, health issues, and medical treatment in small mammals.

Sandra L. Jex is a veterinarian and consultant.

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