Rabbits are incredibly active creatures, and it may not be an entirely enriching environment for them to be in a cage in a noisy classroom full of active children. They are social creatures when they feel like it, but can also be overstimulated and become afraid of human touch.
Rabbits are not good classroom pets. They don’t want to be cooped up in a cage all day with lots of prying eyes and surrounded by poking fingers from small children. However, rabbits can teach children how to be gentle and take care of living creatures.
There are more negative side effects to having a rabbit cooped in a classroom than there are positive aspects. It is important to consider each specifically before adopting a pet rabbit into your classroom.
Rabbits Are NOT Low-Maintenance
A common misconception when purchasing a school pet is that rabbits, or any other smaller mammal, are low maintenance and don’t require attention or excessive needs of food. This is not true and can be harmful to the mental and physical well-being of the rabbit. Rabbits can’t be put in a cage and allowed to be watched through bars for a child to learn about properly caring for a pet.
Rabbits are active creatures and enjoy being able to roam free for most of the day. It doesn’t mind having alone time when necessary, but it needs to be allowed to have an excessive amount of exercise to expend its energy and to develop and strengthen its personality.
Children will be easily distracted by a rabbit running around the classroom, which is not a good teaching environment, nor is it a safe space for the rabbit to roam freely without fear of being stepped on by a child.
Rabbits also like to play as a way of bonding with their caretaker and get a healthy dose of exercise. Schedules are important for a rabbit, as that is its way of feeling safe. Because a classroom is filled with time learning about specific topics, there may not be enough time to give a rabbit the required attention to keep it happy and entertained.
Fact: There are some breeds of rabbits that are easier to care for than others. While their needs and personalities may vary, they will likely be affectionate animals that make great pets. Check out the article I wrote about The 6 Easiest Rabbit Breeds to Take Care Of here.
What Happens If The Rabbit Is Left at School?
So, you purchased a rabbit, what happens when the air-conditioning cuts out during the summer months, or the heat cuts out during the winter months? A rabbit cannot be left unattended at the school for several hours because there are too many risks to its health. A rabbit’s temperature is determined by the heat in its ears, but it can die without any supervision if not monitored vigilantly and taken care of.
If you are not willing to keep a constant eye on your furry friend and provide it with the care it needs to stay alive, it is not an ideal pet for your classroom. The rabbit cannot stay in the classroom all of the time for endless hours in a cage. It also cannot roam around alone on the linoleum floor, as the potential for slipping and harming itself increases, especially when it’s alone.
Rabbits enjoy being in the company of those who are watching it and wanting to engage in play. They are social creatures when they are comfortable, and hours alone in a school do not do well on a rabbit’s social capabilities nor its mental health.
Rabbits Don’t Like Cramped Spaces
A cage is an ideal place to put your rabbit when it is time for them to eat or have some quiet time for a short period of time. However, a cage is not a home. As stated previously, rabbits are free-roaming creatures and enjoy getting fresh air and running around freely.
The average cage size that a rabbit needs to be comfortable is four feet in length by two feet wide. Rabbits can be easily litter trained, but is it ideal to allow your rabbit to roam around the classroom? A rabbit can be a distraction either on the ground or in a cage. Rabbits make noises out of excitement or anger, which can be distracting to anyone trying to pay attention to a teacher’s lecture.
Curious as to which litter and/or litter box will best suit your rabbit? You’ll want your rabbit to feel safe and comfortable enough in his litter box so that he will always relieve himself there. How to Set up a Rabbit Litter Box in 10 Steps is an article I wrote that will guide you through the entire process of choosing and setting up the right materials.
Even by teaching students how to care for a rabbit, it isn’t good for a rabbit to be fearful of children’s hands because children enjoy picking it up. Rabbits prefer to keep all four of their paws on the ground, and it makes them extremely uncomfortable to be cuddled and squished.
If you can’t ensure that the rabbit will be safe outside of its cage and roaming free around the classroom, it is not an ideal pet to have with any age of children/youth.
It Can Be A Health Risk To Kids
There are reports of children having asthma attacks when a child is around a rabbit. Animal dandruff is a common allergic reaction for people around animals, which is not safe.
Anaphylaxis is another common reaction for children to have; this is when someone goes into shock around an animal, causing their heart rate to increase, a drop in blood pressure, and blocked airways.
The rabbit then becomes a liability for the teacher to ensure that they are safe, but also that the children won’t be harmed by the rabbit. If you are concerned about children having an allergic reaction to your pet rabbit, please read about The 27 Best Kinds of Rabbits for Allergies, which may be helpful in this situation.
However, it would be difficult to constantly reaffirm every year that the rabbit is safe to be in the classroom and so are the children. Waivers would have to be detailed and sent out to keep everyone safe.
Parents don’t want to be concerned about their children and have to send them with medication if animal fur is what causes them to have an asthma attack or an allergic reaction. If you don’t plan to house the rabbit at your home if this type of situation occurs, it is not the ideal pet to have in your classroom.
Animals Can Be Abused in and Out of the Classroom
PETA struggles to ensure the safety of all animals when it comes to classroom pets. Every year, dozens of cases open because of an animal being abused either inside the classroom or a pet taken home on the weekends or during the summer.
Rabbits and other small mammals have come into horrible circumstances in the classroom and school. Some have been stepped on, strangled, poked in the eyes with pencils, and so forth.
If parents haven’t had pets before, it isn’t ideal to send a child home with a pet that they don’t know how to care for. When parents don’t want the rabbit hopping around their home, that means they aren’t receiving proper exercise or mental enrichment when it comes to being outside of their cage.
A cage is not an ideal home for a rabbit to grow up in. In some instances, rabbits are severely injured at the home of a child. There aren’t any repercussions towards the children in many cases, as it can be ruled a simple accident.
Rabbits Like Schedules
Rabbits are particular creatures when it comes to having a schedule. They don’t like to deviate from designated play, meal, and snack times. It is important to a rabbit for it to have a schedule. In a classroom, it can be easy to have specific meal times and teach children how to carefully feed a small pet, but mealtimes are not the only important times for a rabbit.
Rabbits become easily frustrated and angered when their caretaker doesn’t stick to a strict regiment. Exercise times are their times to get out of the cage and be able to engage in playtime; if that is not stuck to, then a rabbit will shun physical affection and everyone around them.
If a child takes home a rabbit for a weekend or a week in the summer, they may not take a schedule as seriously as in a school setting that is precedented by the teacher. Schedules are to be strictly adhered to for a rabbit to maintain peak physical and mental health.
Too Much Attention Is Exhausting
Rabbits enjoy being the center of attention, but to be overstimulated means they will become afraid of affection and hide away from the children in the classroom.
Being constantly pet, poked, and looked at means they will prefer to hide than to be a teaching exercise for children. It can be a great way to teach children how important it is to have quiet time or to be quiet during a test, but that doesn’t exactly enhance learning in any way.
To reiterate, overstimulation can be unhelpful to the development of a rabbit’s social abilities and desire to be played with and fed treats.
Rabbits will become afraid of touch if they don’t ever receive quiet and alone time. Rabbits have personalities, and it is important to read their body language when it comes to owning and caring for a rabbit. It may be best to have a rabbit as a family pet rather than a classroom pet.
- Bye-Bye Bad Smells: 13 Best Litters for Rabbits – If you are still considering having a rabbit as a classroom pet, it is wise to have him litter trained. This article that I wrote will help keep odors to a minimum in your closed-in classroom space.
- Are Rabbits Good Pets for Kids? Pros and Cons – This is a great supporting article to read if you are considering getting a rabbit for your children – whether you are a teacher and they are your “children” inside the classroom or if we are talking about your biological children outside the classroom!
- Can You Carry Your Rabbit Like a Baby? – Since this rabbit will be around small children, they need to know how to hold and play with their pet rabbit propperly. This article will tell you the safest way for you, and small humans, to hold these fragile creatures.