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Edited by Anna Meredith and Cathy Johnson Delaney BSAVA Manual of Exotic Pets Published by the BSAVA , 2010 , 5th edition , paperback , 300 pages , Price £75.00 , ISBN-13: 978-1905319169

The BSAVA Manual of Exotic Pets, on its 5th edition now, is rightly subtitled “A Foundation Manual” on the cover, evolving as it has over the years from a set of loose leaf notes into the widest ranging in scope of all the current single edition Manuals.

A multi-author approach has allowed for a range of respected authors from both sides of the Atlantic to contribute on their particular specialist topics. The transatlantic co-editorship has worked well in combining these into a single volume with a largely consistent approach.

Twenty-three chapters cover a wide range of mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, fish and invertebrates. UK and North American legislation are covered at the end.

This edition amalgamates the rodent species into three chapters (essentially the small common rodents, larger common rodents, and chipmunks and prairie dogs), rather than having their own individual chapters, as in the 4th edition. This does not minimise the information available on individual species as much as would be thought, as the chapters are tightly written and avoid the necessary duplication inherent in multiple chapters, but inevitably this leads to a slight reduction in the coverage of the commonly seen species. These species are, however, abundantly detailed in the BSAVA Manual of Rodents and Ferrets. Likewise, the Rabbit chapter in this text is perhaps less lavish than would be liked, given their status as the third most commonly encountered mammalian pet. The BSAVA Manual of Rabbit Medicine and Surgery, now in its 2nd edition, is there to concentrate on this species. Arguably, it is perhaps time for rabbits to be solely covered in their own manual, not really being considered as “exotic” any more, but the chapter here is a useful summary of the conditions affecting this species, containing seven pages of differential diagnosis and common conditions list in note form.

Less commonly encountered species are given more room here than in previous chapters, with African pygmy hedgehogs given their own chapter, for example.

A similar approach has been taken with the other vertebrates. More specialised chapters, by species group, replace general chapters. This allows expansion of detail on each order, and the addition of other chapters focused on animals likely to be encountered, if rarely, by the practicing veterinarian, for example, the ratites and crocodilians. The interested reader is frequently referred to the more detailed BSAVA texts where appropriate.

A few minor criticisms exist. There is a small amount of repetition within some chapters covering multiple species. However, the ease with which this allows for rapid access to information is bound to be appreciated by the reader presented with an unfamiliar species. Some photographic illustrations, especially those of habitats, might be better replaced by clearer and more informative diagrammatic representations. Some radiographic images would benefit from more annotation, especially given the relative unfamiliarity of these species’ anatomical features. The addition to this edition of an increased input from North American authors has lent this book both a more international perspective, as well as hugely valuable contributions from those seeing large caseloads of species that have yet to really become a major part of the UK client base. This can only help to future proof this text, not easy in a rapidly moving field (the coverage of certain recently identified and emerging diseases in reptiles, birds and invertebrates is particularly noteworthy). I would like to have seen an even more global inclusiveness, as this does lead to a slight Anglo-American feel, ironic given the global distribution of many of these species.

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It is a difficult balancing act to cover the range of species inherent in the descriptive term “Exotic”, whilst continuing to cover the more commonly seen species. This book has to try to be all things to all people, and generally succeeds excellently, referencing other texts where appropriate, and neatly summarising the vast and ever increasing information available to the practitioner. It is perhaps a cliché to say that this book should be on every practice shelf, but it doesn’t stop it being true. Better texts exist for each individual group or species, but none covers so many, as economically as this single volume. If you don’t have a copy of the Manual of Exotic Pets in any form, now is the time to get one. If you have it already, it’s worth the upgrade.

Richard Saunders

Richard Saunders qualified from Liverpool University in 1994, having also obtained an intercalated degree in Zoology there. He worked in general small animal practice before obtaining his CertZooMed in 2001, and working in a variety of rabbit and exotic first and second opinion practices, as well as 100% wildlife work. He is the current Bristol Zoo/Rabbit Welfare Association and Fund Clinical Training Scholar, and his special interests include rabbits, marine mammals and raptors.