According to a survey in Switzerland in 1994, 69% of people keeping pets were aware that rabbits need the company of other animals, but only 42% kept their own rabbits in groups. Similar results regarding guinea pigs and birds showed a lack of knowledge relating to the biological needs of various species, as well as a lack of care for pets.

Rabbits, especially dwarf rabbits, are favourite pets, but many are kept in inappropriate conditions all their life, due to a lack of knowledge regarding their real needs. Unfortunately, the knowledge of rabbits’ real needs is still very restricted and, as the author says, “Education is essential.”

Ruth Morgenegg, with her vast experience, passionately presents the basic needs of rabbits, with clear illustrations and writing. The correct keeping of rabbits, inside or outside, involves social contact with members of the same species, exercise, gnawing, digging, hiding places, a good overview within the run, variety and resting time. This book has many practical hints, questions from pet owners and photographs to assist the reader.

The Swiss Animal Welfare legislation regulates the keeping of dwarf rabbits, but this only consists of minimum requirements and does not set out optimum living conditions for the animals.

With meat production or laboratory animals, restrictive or experimental conditions are enforced. This is not the case when keeping rabbits as pets. With animals which have been entrusted to us for many years, it is vitally important to do more than minimum requirements demand.

The author reminds people who are keeping, or would like to keep, rabbits that they have a responsibility. Ruth Morgenegg would like to make them aware of the rabbit as a living being and its essential needs. I hope this book appeals to a broad readership and helps many animals to their basic rights and, with that, to better living conditions.

Andreas Steiger - Professor for Animal Husbandry and Animal Protection of the Veterinary Medical Faculty of Bern University.