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BINKYBUNNY FORUMS > BEHAVIOR > We just got a bunny for our classroom!
Last Post by BB at 10/31/2006 7:58 PM (10 Replies)
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User is Offline skunklionshow
City of Brotherly "Shove"
1247 posts Send Private Message
10/19/2006 10:54 AM

Our classroom just rec'd a bunny donation.  We are in the process of establishing a pet therapy and humane education program. 

Jessica is a dwarf bunny.  The kids are doing a great job w/ feeding and cleaning her cage.  We also let her explore during desk time assignments.

She appears to be very aggressive, so I'm a little leary of her right now.  She tends to attack her blanky and foodbowl when it is touched.  We've been attempting to let her get used to us in the hope that she'll chill out a bit.

Few questions:

1.  Can anyone recommend any good books re: bunny care for the kids (grades 3-8)?

2.  Anyone know of low cost spay programs for bunnies?

3.  Any bunny forums for kids?

Thanks

"The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated." Ghandi


User is Offline BB
San Francisco Area
Forum Leader
8672 posts Send Private Message
10/19/2006 10:22 PM

Welcome Skunklionshow!! 

To be honest, I am not a big fan of rabbits in classrooms.  One of the reasons I say this is I volunteer at a rabbit rescue, and so many times classroom rabbits come in traumatized, especially small breeds because they are higher strung and can be stressed out easily.  I don't recommend small dwarf breeds for small children.  Usually it's the big 'ol bunnies that do better as they can be a bit more calm.

Now with that said, I also know that some teachers have the rabbit as their pet, and bring the rabbit in during the day, but take their bunny home with them.   Rabbits can be littertrained, and need at least three hours of exercise, and so many times they can't get enough in a classroom. 

I know there are two sides the the coin, so I am sure there are some who would be willing to debate this issue..  

For now, what I can tell you about the aggression is that may settle down once the bunny is spayed, but if the aggression is due to stress, and IF the bunny is stressed due to noise, or the activities of children then that may not improve.  It really depends on the bunny. 

Here is a good article by the House Rabbit Society about how to find a good vet:

http://www.rabbit.org/faq/sections/vet.html

Here are some articles regarding classrooom rabbits.

http://www.3bunnies.org/classroom.htm

http://www.rabbitnetwork.org/articl...room.shtml

http://www.rabbit.org/faq/sections/...html  (since you're not breeding and you are looking to spay your bunny, the first part may not really pertain to you, but the 2nd part regarding questions, may at least help you prepare.

I know you may have a different opinion about the rabbit in a classroom, and that's okay. If you decide to keep the rabbit in the classroom, then I'd rather do what I can to help make the rabbits life the best it can be.

I recommend that you read the "House Rabbit Handbook"  It's a great resource for adults, and you can pass down what you know to the children.   As far as  books go, I do not know a good book for children off hand, but maybe you can make a cheat sheet pamphlet for the children once you've read "The House Rabbit Handbook"

Keep us updated!

 

 


User is Offline Gina Won
110 posts Send Private Message
10/20/2006 12:02 AM
In my opinion and along the lines of what BinkyBunny said, bunnies do not do well in classrooms. The noise level of classrooms can be very distressing for any rabbit and particularly so on a dwarf bunny who may already be high strung. Luckily, since Jessica is not yet spayed, there is the possibility that her temperament may mellow a bit after the surgery. Also, is of the utmost importance that you (assuming you are the teacher) closely supervise any interaction the children may have with the rabbit as their skeletal structures are very fragile and can be severely injured VERY easily.

Also, since your school is in the progress of establishing a "humane education program," I would definitely set up at talk made by your local House Rabbit Society chapter. They harbor a wealth of practical and socially pertinent information regarding rabbits especially. Like what BinkyBunny mentioned, the most humane way to care for the classroom rabbit would be to physically bring her home with you after school hours for proper care. She needs at least 3-4 hours to exercise outside of the confines of a small cage. Also, rabbits are not solo animals and may become emotionally understimulated without a reliable companion (in this case, a consistant, loving caregiver). Twenty children in a classroom during the hours of 8 and 3 may not qualify as a true bonding experience for the rabbit.

It sounds like Jessica is "cage protective". This may indicate that she needs her personal space to help her feel secure. It is important to explain to the children that touching her things (ie blanket, foodbowl) or sticking their hands in her cage (even to pet her) may frighten her and make her feel like her personal sanctity is being violated. Analogies to help the children understand, such as "How would you like it if some stranger came into your room and touched all of your favorite things?" may aid the learning process.

Additionally, proper nutrition for the bunny, just like for children, is vital to her quality of life. Teach the youngsters that treats such as apples or carrots are a "sometimes" food, and that hay and greens are the best things for her. Even pellets, though they do offer nutrients, are not as healthy as hay and greens. A possible analogy could be that "pellets are like smoothies, they have nutrients but are not as healthy as eating the actual fresh fruit itself."

The best way to educate children about such important and useful topics as pet therapy and humane treatment of animals is through example. This goes without saying, that the teacher must do his/her homework prior to adopting the animal in order to properly educate the students... learning about the rabbit diet, their behavior, their body language, and appropriate care are all extremely important lessons. Such as, "Do not just blindly buy whatever pellet mix you see at the pet store. You have to figure out if it's part of a balanced diet for your bunny's body and situation. Just like not everything in the grocery store is healthy just because it says it's 'for kids.'" If they see that YOU truly respect the animal and see it for what it is, a living, breathing little life and not a toy, then the children have the potential to greatly benefit from you and this program. 

User is Offline skunklionshow
City of Brotherly "Shove"
1247 posts Send Private Message
10/20/2006 10:43 AM

First off...thank you for the info and opinions posted.  As a 25 yr veteran of humane education, animal advocacy, and animal rescuer, I respect all of the opinions of insight provided.  I agree that this was not the ideal situation for the bunny....however....after fostering several "pocket pets" in our classroom, this bunny literally fell in our laps and required a home immediately.

As much as this "chafes" my personal views, I believe that Jessica really will make a difference w/ my kids.  Just a bit on our program. ...

We are a mental health program that obtains our students from inner city, low income, w/ academic and behavioral health issues.  Our classrooms contain no more than 13 students at one time, w/ a total of 3 adults in the classroom at all times.  We have a teacher, Master level Clinician, and Behavioral Health worker in the classroom and several "office" supervisory staff.  Currently, my classroom consists of 6 kids.  I am the teacher w/ several graduate degrees in mental health and education.  Our kids are in the classroom for approx 6 hours a day and staff for 8 hours a day.  The majority of the class day is spent in therapy (group and individual), expressive arts therapy (group), and social skills groups.  Our priority is behavioral health and not academics.  It is a VERY specialized population.  Our program is also year round and does not close for extended holiday or seasonal breaks.

Yesterday afternoon, We relocated Jessica's cage to the floor and she freely hopped around exploring during our afternoon free-time/ reward-time and group therapy activities.  I believe that I have been doing very great w/ explaining the bunny touching, bunny quiet time, allowing her to explore, etc.  I am VERY aware that bunnies are at an extremely high risk for breaking their own necks via mishandling.  Today she spent a great deal of the day exploring her classroom w/ the kids being very accommodating and gentle.

No one really touches her unless she approaches them.  She has also forced the kids to keep the classroom neat as a pin.  One of the biggest things she is teaching them is patience.  This is oft a very hard concept for individs w/ mental health issues.  

Please continue providing us the info and input.  We will be exploring Binky Bunny and Rabbit House websites next week in the computer lab.  I am not asking to change anyone's opinions or personal views, I just ask for your assistance in coninuing for my kids to learn how to be good kids!  It sounds really corny, but in the world of Emotional Support and Mental Health...it is really the best way to put it.

Thank you all,  Ms. Kelly 

"The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated." Ghandi


User is Offline wendyzski
Chicago, IL
1316 posts Send Private Message
10/20/2006 11:15 AM
I'm glad you posted with more info about your program.  We all hear the words "classroom bunny" and have horrible visions of buns in tuny aquariums being poked by loud and obnoxious kids.

It sounds like you are doing what a lot of us do - trying to make the best of a less-than-idea situation for Jessica.  It sounds like you are doing the best that you can under the circumstances - getting her out-of-cage time and teaching your students to care for her properly.  I hope that this continues to be a good situation for all of you, and I'm glad you are seeking out as much info as you can.

I look forward to hearing more about Jessica's adventures with all her new friends.

User is Offline Gina Won
110 posts Send Private Message
10/21/2006 11:56 PM
Unrelated to bunnies, I am thrilled to hear about your school's education program =) Coming from a family of both public school teachers and doctors in the mental health field, it makes me so glad to hear about the set up you have over there. Children with behavioral and emotional difficulties need programs like yours in the community, and it makes all the difference for them. Hooray. =) As pertaining to bunny business it is awesome that you have such consideration and understanding of the broader situation, both for your students and for your new bun in context. I'm glad that you have such a small group of students as well, as it sounds like they and Jessica both can have the chance to foster healthy and positive relationships with one another (and their teachers, of course). I bet they will both learn a lot from each other and from you =) From my experiences volunteering in public elementary school settings, most of the classrooms were devestatingly overcrowded and the amount of supervision was barely enough to cover the children, let alone the children and a small animal, so I'm sure you can imagine the source of "classroom bunny" anxiety. Thanks for sharing your situation and background with us, please update on how your bunny and children progress!

User is Offline Theresa Moan
Nashua, NH
254 posts Send Private Message
10/22/2006 3:45 AM
Hi Skunklionshow,
I'm glad you seem to be rabbit savy. Where does Jessica go on the weekends? Do you bring her home with you?

User is Offline Gravehearted
Campbell, CA
2442 posts Send Private Message
10/22/2006 4:00 PM
Your post initially made me wary - but I am glad to hear that it sound like Jessica's well being is a top priority and that she'll help educate people about bunnies.  It sounds like your program also has many adults around to help ensure she's safe.

I would also encourage you to give her a hidey space (even a box with a few holes to get in and out is a good idea.   Spaying also may help cut down on her territorial instincts.  The programs for low-cost spay are few andfar between, but there are some. Your profile doesn't indicate where you live, since most programs are regional

HRS of San Diego created a good coloring book to teach kids about taking care of house rabbits:
www.rabbit.org/chapters/san-diego/adoption/colorbook.pdf
~ bunny mom to to HRH Hareiette, Viktor the crazy Krum and Pandora, prima binky ballerina ~ Save a life, Adopt!

User is Offline skunklionshow
City of Brotherly "Shove"
1247 posts Send Private Message
10/23/2006 10:57 AM

Thanks for more input...I'm hoping to have the kids explore Binky Bunny and various House Rabbit sites w/in the next few weeks.  I also appreciate all the support for my kids.

Jessica stays in the classroom on the weekends....I know not the most ideal, but I'm afraid my 4 cats would not appreciate her presence in my home.  For extended weekends (3 days) she will go home w/ a staff member, we are in the process of selecting a primary for this job.  In the meantime, I attempt to visit over regular weekends, usually on Sats.

We are located in Philly.  I have submitted requests to the SE-PA rabbit house re: low cost spaying/neutering.  She's hopping along...we will keep you all posted.

"The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated." Ghandi


User is Offline Lucy
Chicago, IL
379 posts Send Private Message
10/25/2006 3:14 PM
ok I don't know if this is a bad idea or not- and everyone put in imput- but could jessica go home with one of the kids every weekend?

when I was in third grade my class had hermit crabs as pets.. Ramona, Shelly, and there was a third, but I can't remember the name. Well, every weekend it was one of the students turn to take them home. Everyone took extra good care of them. I remember when I took them home I was all excited and fed them, and played with them, and let them run around the living room (with supervision, because it's very easy to not see a hermit crab and step on him).

So, would this be a good idea? so that way jessica had space to run around and fresh food? Or is it too much pressure on the families taking the bunny in, or on the rabbit?

Could you send notification of proper rabbit care to the parents, and ask if they would be able to take her in once every 8 weeks or so? If there aren't a lot of parents who can do it, alternate one weekend of jessica in the classroom and one weekend of jessica at a home? Once again, I don't know if it's too much stress on the bunny or not. I know the first night I got Fujoe he was thumping- but oh so curious. . . hoping around and such. It was awesome.

I don't know.. it might help the kids with responsibility also... and help them share something with their parents.

I really respect you for doing this. In high school my polevaulting coach was the head teacher for the mentaly dissabled class. I would go into the class sometimes, I just couldn't believe the patience it took. My younger sister is in best buddies, and really loves it. — On easter they had a field trip to the zoo, and got to pet baby bunnies! yay!

good luck with jessica- we are all here to support you, to make sure jessica has the best life she can helping others!

User is Offline BB
San Francisco Area
Forum Leader
8672 posts Send Private Message
10/31/2006 7:58 PM

From the rabbit experts around here, the consensus is that it is best to have one person be the care taker, because rabbits feel more calm with consistency and a regular routine which includes one place. 

Each home would need to be prepared - and rabbit proofed, but ultimately, even if they do that, having the stablity of one place is best.  So if there was one family (if not the teacher) then this would be better then a rabbit being by himself in a lonely empty classroom for a weekend.   Especially since rabbits do crave companionship.

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