The other 3rd grade teacher and I were thinking of getting pet rabbits for our classrooms next year. I have never had a class pet before. Has anyone had a rabbit that could give some advice? I would love to hear about what worked and what didn't work. I know they're a lot of work, but I was kind of thinking that the 3rd graders could do most of the care and then I would let them take the rabbit home over the holidays. What do you think? Thanks for your advice!!!
I had a rabbit several years ago in my classroom. (One of the other teachers had to get rid of it because one of her students had allergies - something to think about!)
There were pros and cons with the rabbit.
Pros: It was a great rabbit! It was potty trained and calm. When I let it out of its cage, it would just hop around and let the kids pet it.
1) It smelled big time! I would change its cage 2x a day - and it still smelled. Flies came off the playground to hang out in my classroom!
2) It chewed on everything. Rabbits are rodents, and they chew. My class got really good at shouting "Bella's chewing again" and shooing him away from whatever he was chewing on, but I had quite a few things with rabbit nibbles on them.
3) It was a distraction. It's hard to concentrate on what you're supposed to be learning if a cute, fuzzy rabbit is hopping by your desk. I thought that maybe I'd just let him out during SSR and free time, but SSR became PTRT (pet the rabbit time) instead.
If I had it to do again, I would not have had the rabbit. My biggest complaint was with the smell. I ended up giving it to a girl in my room, who had him for a couple of years before he died. It didn't seem fair to keep him locked up for so many hours a day to cut down on distraction. He was much happier in a home, not a school.
If I was to do a pet again (with all the allergy issues at my school I don't think anybody has a furry pet for the class), I'd do a guinea pig since you could hold it and read a book. I think I might get a fish next year though. The kids do enjoy class pets!
I have a pet rabbit at home and I honestly regret getting him. We got him from a rabbit breeder at our annual county fair. He was 3 months when we got him and we saw how big his parents were. Well he grew to be the size of my 14 pound male cat (I've never weighed the rabbit). Plus he's nasty (so we got him neutered, which didn't help) - he snorts at you and will sit up on his back legs and try to punch you with his front paws. They are a lot of work because they do smell. The cage has to be cleaned daily (at least). Ours is trained to only go bathroom in his cage. We let him have run of part of our basement - but he has managed to pull the drywall paper off and chew most of my boxes where I store my teaching items. He loves kids, so I was thinking of one day having him as my classroom pet (if I ever am lucky enough to get my own classroom). He will jump up on the couch and sit with my son when he is playing video games. My son had a rabbit in his class this year and it would mark all over the room and chew anything it could get it's teeth on. It was very tame and once it got neutered it stopped marking. The kids did enjoy having the rabbit around. The teacher did let the students last year take the rabbit home over weekends/breaks, but she did not this year. She would bring him to/from school in a small dog carrier.
Thanks for all of your advice. I guess the idea sounded fun at the time- but since I'm the type of teacher that likes everything in its place- then the rabbit probably isn't for me. And....too much work (like I don't have enough as it is)!
We had house rabbits for years when we lived in an apartment, and I loved having them... Ours were all litter trained, and used a litter box just like the cats did. We did keep them caged when we were at school because of the chewing, but they came out to play in the evening when we came home... and then were caged at night. If you use cat litter, it cuts down on the smell, or wood chips... but if you get them when they are small and handle them frequently, they are excellent pets!
And, yes, you can get dwarf rabbits, all of ours were dwarf rabbits, none weighed over about 6 pounds...
We had a pet guinea pig one year. One of the parents donated it.In addition to some of what the others have said about the rabbit, we had problems finding "homes" during weekend/vacation time, and I was lucky that none of the kids had fur allergies. Luckily, at the end of the year, a pet store took it from me. One of my colleagues has a pet hermit crab. The kids enjoy watching it grow, and it fits in with her beginning of the year beach theme. It is also small and not too hard to care for or get a person to take care of it during vacations. Some of our classes have aquariums, but fish aren't quite the same thing.
I had pet bunnies for years a while back and loved them! The kids were so good at taking care of them. I never had a problem with the odor. I litter box trained all of mine and used scented cat litter. It worked great! I had a cage with a large plastic tray around the bottom to prevent any peepee accidents. They sell these pet fences- a small octagon shape thing that the bunny can safely hop around without getting into trouble. Each week a different child was the zoo keeper and took care of bringing in treats from home (lettuce, carrots, store bought things). They were responsible for the water and food too. They brushed him and gave him his daily exercise. The children thrived on this kind of responsibility. Also, we had to have quiet voices so the bunnies' sensitive ears would not be hurt- that one worked great for noise control! ! Several of my bunnies were so tame the kids carried them around in baskets! I wish I could have a bunny in my room now! It was always such fun and a great expereince for the kids- many of whom never had or would have a chance to have a pet.
I have had a guinea pig for many years. Now I keep it in a big blanket box with holes punched in the sides. All the shavings are contained--no mess. The kids take care of it and take it home most weekends and some summers (This summer he is at my house). The kids love it and change the cage twice a week. Odor has not been a problem. I also have a collection of guinea pig books the kids read and a journal they write in when he visits. I feel the responsibility is worth the effort. There is a small expense in buying shavings, food, etc, but it is tax deductible, as are all school related expenses. So I hope everyone is keeping track of those little expenses and mileage that adds up!!
I have had several class pet hamsters and never regretted it at all! They're nocturnal so they don't distract the kids with their gnawing and activity. They will wake up to be pet and fed. The kids loved bringing veggies for them. They would roll in their exercise balls around the room during reading.
They were the subject of many creative writing assignments. Check out: http://www.geocities.com/lafayettegazette/askmrpeepers.htm Our pet became the advice columnist and my second graders wrote in his voice. Our most recent pet just died and I will definitely get another!
My neighboy in school has a pet rabbit and it seems to be a lot of work as it goes home every night and then back again. I think the only problem she ever had was a child with allergies to rabbits and the parents wanted her to get rid of the rabbit. Wasn't pleasant but it all worked out. I'd love to have one but I also have allergies to them.
I've had rabbits, guinea pigs, a hamster, but my favorite was the mice. They were gentle and easy to take care of. The kids would take them home over spring break, Christmas, or the summer so I didn't have too. One friend of mine did rats. They were even more docile. I never did it because I couldn't get past the fact that they were rats! : ) The one thing I didn't do was fish. Cleaning the tank was a pain for the teacher in the room next to me and at the end of the year, the tank had to be emptied and the fish had to go home. Good luck with your choice!
I work in a daycare that has had several pets in past and I am also owner of a dwarf rabbit and mother o9f a third grade child. I feel that bunnies of any kind in the classroom or anywhere there are groups of children are a bad idea. Bunnies can become upset and die from heart attacks very easily. They HATE being picked up and only like to be petted on the ground. They need lots of time each day outside the cage for exercise or they can become tempermental. Our bunny does not even live in a cage anymore, we let him run free around our home. When held bunnies also squirm to go free, if their legs are not supported well (such as is usually the case with children)when they do this they can snap their spine with one good kick to become free. This is quite common and you are then faced with the challenge of caring for a crippled bunny. Bunnies become agitated and nervous every time people walk past there cage and do bite and scratch when upset. Bunnies prefer having one family owners as oppossed to a classroom setting as that is how they form a trusting bond to their caregiver. It is also important to note that bunnies can live up to 13 years if taken care of well. That is a big timje committment. Many bunnies that start in classrooms or daycares eventually find themselves in animal shelters after a few years. One last point I would like to make is that of expense. It is costly to own a bunny. In addittion to their pellet food, treats, toys, shavin's, etc, they also require a variety of fresh vegetables daily. About 1 cup per day. This works out to about $50 per bunny, monthly just for the vegetables alone. Other supplies are also about $30 a month. It is not uncommon for us to spend $100 a month on our bunny and that does not even factor in vet bills. Bunnies can become sick easily, especially when in large group environments.
I hoped this information will help guide your decision.