Classroom’s rabbit needs special care
Question: My daughter's teacher has a pet rabbit in the classroom, and my daughter thinks the rabbit might be sick. How can I ensure bunny is being cared for without offending the teacher?
Answer: Teach your child to identify potential signs of illness. Refusal of fresh food or special treats, sores, swollen eyes, soft stools and lethargy are signs of poor health.
Rabbits have many needs, among them sterilization, ample space and time to romp and run, grooming (including nail trimming and regular brushing), a balanced diet with chew toys to keep their teeth filed, and companionship.
Animals in classrooms need teachers to care for them as their own personal pet -- especially during weekends, holidays and during breaks.
If you are worried, visit your child's classroom, offer to take the rabbit to a veterinarian for a checkup or offer to adopt the animal as your own. If you are uncomfortable approaching the teacher, contact the principal or call the Humane Society; we will send an investigator.
The fact that your daughter has expressed her concerns shows that she is conscientious and compassionate. Consider encouraging her to select animal welfare issues for school reports and science projects.
Q: What else can be done to make the rabbit's cage time more enjoyable?
A: A rabbit's cage is its nest, and it should be a special place where it feels safe and secure. If it must live in a wire cage, it needs stable, comfortable flooring.
If a rabbit only moves enough to satisfy daily requirements such as eating or using the bathroom, it will not burn necessary calories or build healthy and strong muscles. It needs safe activities to keep its body and mind fit. Rabbits need things to hop on, crawl under, dig into and chew on.
Stimulating toys include paper bags and cardboard boxes for crawling into, scratching and chewing; cardboard forms for burrowing; a phone book for shredding; and toys with ramps and lookouts to climb and view their surroundings.
The Hawaiian Humane Society welcomes questions by e-mail, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Indicate "Pet Ohana" in the subject line. Or, write "Pet Ohana," Hawaiian Humane Society, 2700 Waialae Ave., Honolulu 96826.