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As an offshoot from this discussion I'm hoping Reese and anyone else with critter keeping experience will offer their input of do's and dont's, how-to's and benefits of keeping animals as part of their children's living life learning experiences.

I'm thinking chickens, considering rabbits. dh thinks the smell will be a concern.

Reese, what animals do you have or have you had?
 

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We have both, on our farm. Rabbits do get smelly. They're not great pets, IMO. They tend to be skitty and they're not very smart. They also chew up everything.

I think chickens are very cool. I watch our chickens like some people watch aquariums, I think. They do a lot of wandering chicken-type things. They also have the benefit of eggs, and they eat most leftovers. The poop is messy, though, and they need more room than a rabbit.

Dar
 

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So cool
Thanks Cynthia.

What can we learn and teach from/with animals? There is so much to be learned, lessons most wouldn't even think of learning or that can be had.

Animal care, respecting animals, what part of the food chain animal is or what is part of their food chain, how we use animals for our needs (chicken=we eat eggs and some eat meat, use feathers for fishing flies/lures), how they are related to the dinosaurs, their behaviors, cycle of reproduction, biology of, health care of, animal behavior in retrospect of the weather or natural occurances (earthquakes ect), breed of animal from around the world and how their features are related to region, myths, culture uses, observations on behaviors, and well the sheer pleasure of their company,ect.

You asked about smell, well that will depend on the type of animal, animals health and cleanliness.

As for animals I've had, here is the list growing up:

dogs
cats
fan tailed pigons
geese
chickens(food=eggs and meat)
pigs(food=meat)
dairy goats (food=milk and milk products)
cattle(food=meat steers)
rabbits (food=meat)
bees

now:

2dogs and 8hens

we live in a subdivision now, but plan on getting a farm so we can "do it right". I'm having to relearn since it's been a while, but it's been a very fun adventure.

With chickens, you'd have to find out the laws in your area and if you can have them, then go from there. Some here in the States even have "house chickens" and "house rabbits" :LOL I'd personally just make a little hen pen with a house that can hold 2 or 3 hens.

If I can help, I will.
 

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Jenny is 3 and has a frog. It's a dwarf african frog (tiny aquatic frog) that lives in our aquarium with the guppies. She named him "Spotty, because he got spots." It is her job to feed the fish, the frog, and the dog. No, I didn't give her the chore or force it upon her, she insists! If she catches me feeding the dog, she gets very angry with me LOL I wanted something she wouldn't be tempted to handle, and the aquatic frog was just right.

Besides the care and feeding of the critters, which I think has taught her a good many lessons already, she has witnessed the guppies giving birth, the frog eating guppy babies, the dog barking at whatever animal comes near our yard, the neighbor cat spraying on our front door, ..... everything is a learning experience and a chance for me to answer her millions of questions and maybe even share with her a little something that I've picked up during my own lifetime.
We have bunnies and racoons and possums wild in our yard. We also put out a birdfeeder, and it was fun to see the different kinds of birds that came when we used different kinds of seed.

To answer your OP, Cynthia, I couldn't have chickens or rabbits, but that's because I am terribly allergic to both (I have had them in the past). Rabbits don't stink as bad as hamsters, at least male hamsters or mice do, but they need more space, more exercise, more food. Rabbits are usually not the cuddly snuggly pets some people want them to be! We got a rescue bunny that was supposed to be a dwarf rabbit who outgrew the magician's hat. Definitely look into rescuing one if you do decide to get one, lots of people, around here anyway, get them at Easter time and then realize they don't really want one. Gerbils, coming from a desert environment, don't pee as much, and so don't smell as bad. But you need at least two of them or they will die of loneliness. I'd suggest two females, unless you want lots of babies or know someone with a hungry snake. As far as rodents go, rats make the best pets. Better pets than cats, in my opinion, because they are trainable and nearly as smart as dogs.

If you count the animals my grandparents had while I was living with them, I have had experience with the following animals:
cats
dogs
chickens
horses
goats
rabbit (just the one, I'm terribly allergic to rabbit fur)
hamsters
mice
gerbils
rats
cows
sheltopusik (a legless lizard)
fish of all sorts, but guppies are my favorite
frog (just the one, but I did catch a bullfrog when I was little and had to let him go when he kept us awake all night with his singing)
turtles
parrot (I'm also allergic to birds of all sorts)
parakeets (ditto)
there's probably more that I just can't think of right now. there were those baby skunks our barn cat adopted after their mother got killed, but they weren't pets.

can I count the ant farm and sea monkeys I had too?

we also learn loads from our membership to the aquarium and trips to the local zoo.

what I really want is to move to the country and have enough land to get some miniature donkeys. I don't know why, but I am obsessed with those cute little guys! Jenny really wants a pig. Don't know where she got that idea.
 

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My kids love having pets, even temporary ones, and they learn so much from them.
Here is the list that my children have care for or just observed for a while:
cats and kittens
guinnea pigs
goldfish
hermit crabs
hamsters
painted lady butterflies
worms
ants
rolly pollies
tadpoles

We are also seriously considering laying hens as roosters are not allowed within city limits. I do want to finish researching and find a family who can mentor us(there are 2 in our homeschool group). My DS has always wanted to hatch an egg, so I want to be prepared to provide that experience.

The butterflies were an incredible experience, esp for the kids. I plan to do it again this spring. The goldfish really piqued my DS' interest in aquariums and is saving money to buy a bigger aquarium for different types of fish. Ants have also been an interesting experience. We haven't had much luck with ant farms, but the several ant hills in our yard has been a great learning tool for the kids. We even witnessed an "ant war" between two different colonies. Of course our cats have been the most fun.
 

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I've got to put my 2 cents in for house rabbits. I have had house rabbits since I was 4 and they are my all time favorite pets. My beloved Leo was compassionate (would cuddle with me when I cried) and very smart (smarter than most cats I've had). I've had rabbits with lots of personality and boring bunnies as well (who aren't that much fun). Rabbits can be trained to use the litter box like a cat and I've never associated rabbits with a bad smell.

The biggest trouble with rabbits is how nibbly they are. They'll eat books, plants, cords, cloth, etc. I had one who wasn't a nibbler, but most are, especially when young. They are more work than cats (one reason I'm rabbit-less right now).

Rabbits who are kept in small cages and rarely let out get lethargic and depressed. I think most people who think rabbits are boring and dumb have interacted with such rabbits.

In my experience, the larger breeds are more intelligent. I'm sure there are tons of people who'd say otherwise...

AND, if you do get a rabbit, be sure to spay and neuter. Even if you just have one, an altered rabbit will be much better behaved and healthier.

The House Rabbit Society has a website and a good book on the ins and outs of having a House Rabbit.

All that said, my mother has 12 chickens and my 4 yo dd loves them. They let her pet them and hold them and she loves to collect their eggs (which are delicious). They eat leftovers and are very little work. I enjoy them a lot as well and hope to have our own flock someday.
 

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Definately some chickens. One of the reasons we are moving out of our condo is so I can get some chickens and goats,lol. Currently we have the pets listed below,and my son(2.5) loves to feed/clean them all with me.DD(5) loves to get pets,but isn't so great when it comes to the care of them.My son is better at that.We did have a wild mouse for a while. I loved watching it!

1 dog,3 cats,2 parakeets,1 toad,2 guinea pigs,and a goldfish.
 

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mattemma04 said:
Definately some chickens. One of the reasons we are moving out of our condo is so I can get some chickens and goats,lol. QUOTE]

:LOL yep, I'm feeling the need to expand my chickens
I want a roo and chicks and think the kids would bennifit in observing the natural process...oh and what a joy.

I'm also tossing about between multi-purpose sheep or goats
at this point i'm thinking kinder goats from all I've learned about them, but still tossing about the sheep thing.

Growing up we had Alpines, Nubians, and LaManchas (dairy goats) and well my fav. of those three are the LaManchas. I'm so confused, just when I think I have the ideal thing planned I come across another and well
One more year, one more year and we'll be able to start seriously planning, not just dreaming.

AND TO KEEP THIS ON TOPIC :LOL We spent a goodly time out with our hens yesterday. They're starting to get more social with us, even though they've always "talked" with us. I was squatting trying to study one of our "hens" (these are really still pullets which are young hens) since I'm thinking she may not be a she after all. Anyway, next thing I know I'm a roost for 2 of the girls. :LOL I look over my shoulder and one is looking back. I kurkkurk to her and she kurkkurk's back, then hops off. Then we're watching on dust bathe, which looks like an epileptic episode and scared the kids the first time they saw one of the girls do it. Our hens are black and white, and so we tell them appart by their pattern, like zebras we tell different chickens by the differnce in pattern on their feathers. Their wattles are getting nice rosey red, and it's said that once they get deep red then they'll be ready to start laying. Another indication is if they squat at your feet when you walk up (if they consider you a roo that is). I think this more social behavior of theirs shows they are getting closer to laying at least. Just our chicken observations for yesterday.

I've kept a close eye on my hens since when we got them unknowingly they were infested with bugs
. I was able to get rid of them organically, but I still worry. I'm not sorry for taking them on, actually greatful I was able to bring them back to health and give them a better life.

As for rabbits, we only had caged bunnies, but i never thought they smelled bad. DH also had an indoor pet rabbit we had to give away since ds/#1 was allergic to him
anyway. He was litter trained and was a very cuddly fun bunny too.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
The most spacious place for us to raise any animals out of doors would be on the rooftop. The smell concern there is due to our desert coolers being situated up on the roof where they intake air that is water cooled and then vented through the house. So if the smell will be very strong that will be a concern for us, although we are considering sectioning an area of the roof off in a way to help prevent the problem.

I like the idea of chickens best. But pigeons appeal to me too. Rabbits I too have heard are not the best of pets. But I did read a post awhile back about a floppy eared rabbit that made a wonderful pet. I think the person said much similar to a cat. and I have seen adorable floppy eared rabbits here.

No laws to worry about here Reese. So we're okay in that respect. Got any links for hen and rabbit houses to build?

Gerbils. Hmmm. I'll see if thre are any around and see what the kids think. It might be nice to have an indoor pet as well as an outdoor animal raissing project. What about a ferret??

We've had a turkey and it was incredible smelly! But it was so incredibly friendly and responsive to us after just a few days of being here. But I don't think I want something that big again. At least not living where we do now. :LOL

Where can I get a chrysalis and could it be shipped this far safely?

Momalea, thanks for all that info on rabbits! My kiddos will love you for your thumbs up on rabbits input

mattemma, I would LOVE to have a goat for the fresh goat's milk (for drinking and soapmaking)!! I wonder if a goat could be happy up on a roof?

Reese you are a treasure of info about chickens!!! I think I am totally convinced in the chicken department. Now it all depends on whether or not we can set something up on the roof for them that will provide them with a decent lifestyle. Do they need dirt to scratch and peck their food properly?

And gee, I'm seriously considering the bunny. Anyone have good or not so goodd to say about floppy eared bunnies?

And pigeons. Any advice there?
 

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Cynthia, house rabbits can be wonderful pets. They do best spayed or neutered- (smell less, are nicer and easier to litter box train). I don't know if vets in Saudi Arabia neuter rabbits, though. It is sometimes hard to find someone here that does a good job of it.

As far as floppy eared bunnies- they are more prone to ar infections than up-eared rabbits- but if you keep their ears clean they will do fine. A french lop is the biggest and often mellowest of lops. The smaller rabbits, like smaller dogs are often more highly strung.

A dutch rabbit is an ideal rabbit for house living- small/medium size, cute, smart, clean and sturdy.

A dwarf rabbit is not a good choice- they can be skittish and not good with kids.

We've had house rabbits for 15 years and enjoyed them tremendously. My kids love rabbits and miss them (my ds is allergic so we don't have any now).

The kids learned a lot from the bunnies and it gave them somthing to do to keep busy (feeding them greens, petting them, helping scoop the litter box).

Since rabbits are vegetarians, all the litter is composatable for the garden.
 

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:LOL it can be addictive really. I read of some that even have (gasp) HOUSE chickens :LOL I just can't imagen, but really some do. One of my favorite chicken site and they have a bunny section as well...is backyard chicken. They are a great resource of information, although most are not organic enough for me, but I make due with my own searching for that information.

anyway, they have a section that has coop designs, same could go for a rabbit cage too.

as for smell, again, it'll depend on cleanliness, and health of chickens. my poor dears smelled when they were sickly, but don't anymore. the litter and hen house i keep clean, use orange peel shavings in and around the hen house and pen as well as ground limestone. I clean up when needed, and when it's wet I add wood shavings to help absorb so the odors aren'ttoo much. When it rains is when I notice the most smell, other wise not too bad. The soiled litter can go into the composter for the garden as well...although rabbit droppings can go straight into the garden.

if anything make the hen house and pen down wind
from the vents. I'd say in your sit. a small scale like no more than 2-3 hens. a "chicken" tractor or the likes should be plenty for your needs as long as you give them some hay and food, they will "scratch" so providing them with stuff to scratch at (even if in a big shallow pan) will help. I'd lay something down like a sheet of lanolium or something under the hen pen so you don't have to worry about any damage to the roof and ease of cleaning.

http://www.backyardchickens.com/

http://www.pathtofreedom.com/pathpro...chickens.shtml

about rabbits http://www.barbibrownsbunnies.com/ho...your_bunny.htm

I can't wait until i can totally free range my chickens

an ex-bf had2 ferrets which had been descented (but still had a smell, and i bathed them once a week). They were littered train and had the run of the place. His poor hymalaian cat got dragged under the waterbed headboard many a time to be stashed away by one of the ferrets
:LOL They are absolutly adorable and amusing, but will nip with their sharp teeth if looking for attention or mad. if i could talk dh into it i'd happily take on a couple of ferrets.

As for doves, ours were free ranged, so they roosted up in the barn rafters and did their own thing
 

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That is so cool, Reese. You make me want chickens. I knew someone with a house chicken, too. She had somone babysit it whenever she went on vacation.

Another idea, Cynthia- are you in the desert? Maybe a desert tortoise that could live on the roof. Tortoises can be great pets if you have a good climate where they can be outdoors.
 

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As far as lops go (rabbits that is), one of my favorite rabbits of all time was a French lop. Very social, very sweet, very smart and very big. I've only had one minilop who was a dud as far as rabbits go-not much personality.

In general I've chosen straight eared rabbits because I find it easier to read them than lops. Since they make very little noise, you can "read" their mood/needs via ear language. This is much harder with lops who have little control over their ears. But, lops can be wonderful.

How about a couple of chickens and a rabbit? (Easy for me to say!)
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Can rabbits and chickens live together in the same large pen? And pigeons too?

I haven't seen any tortoises (other than the usual small aquarium type ones) at the pet shops here but I'll check when we go again.

dh has brought up the "what if we travel?" question. I'll have to figure that one out.
 

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That's the only real downside ot pets imo. If you are travelers or don't have anyone willing to pet sit at your whims :LOL then i strongly advise against any animals.

We're homebodies, don't do vacationing that is more than a day trip there and back ect. We like it like that and so don't have any issue about having animals.

As for putting them all together, not sure I would in a small space, but that's me.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Well, we found out today that we may have to move. So depressing! So I don't know how far we can go with the animal raising hopes right now.

Life sure throws you some curves at times doesn't it!
 

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this just tells me it just wasn't your time for animals. tuck this away and maybe you'll see the right oportunty arise when it's meant to be. best of luck with your move.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
We're still thinking to get a couple of rabbits.


Thanks for all the info. I was getting really excited about the chickens, especially after looking at those links. There are some gorgeous chickens out there!!

Thanks everyone!
 

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We just bought our firat house and have gone full bore into becoming pet owners with both a cat and a dog. I am hoping to add some chickens this spring

I was just thinking this morning that besides all of the other thigns we are learning by having animals, taking care of the dog is really good for my sons's fine motor skills. He can now open a can with a can opener, and has to mix the dry dog food with the canned. It's something that's still difficult for him, but he is determined to do it on his own.
 

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I'm pretty sure chickens would not be allowed here which is a bummer. My kids would love that! We only have one dog and two cats. We had hamsters bu they had issues. Our first set ended with one eating the other one. That was not fun to wake up to in the morning.
Then we just got one hamster to replace it and eventually he escaped and I never found him! I still expect to find him running around sometime! We did the butterfly thing and the kids LOVED it! We plan to do it again in the spring. www.insectlore.com is the best for that kind of stuff! I would love to get a bird but dh is kind of anti pet. We'll see how we adjust after the new baby. I had a guinea pig growing up and he was awesome! He was litter trained, basically, so ran free in the house. He was a good pet. I would also like to get an aquarium but again, dh is against it. I can't imagine being against fish but....

Anyway, loving this thread!
 
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