I am very proud to present Koru’s newest class members: Nibbles and Tucker.
They are sisters and best friends. They were born in April so are now almost five months old and they have been together all their lives. They are albino, which means they have white fur and red eyes. This put a lot of people off buying them, which was lucky for us, because we think they are beautiful!
Firstly, I must say a huge thank you to both Natalie’s and Mia’s families for making the addition of our class pets possible this term. I think I had been at Capital all of a day or two before I asked about animals but, due to a few things, I wasn’t able to introduce them until now...over a year and half later. The Harper family purchased us both the hutch and the run and the Patel family bought the guinea pigs themselves. These are early leaving gifts to our class, as both these girls will be graduating at the end of this term. However, it is lovely that they still have five weeks to spend with the guinea pigs and they are both proving to be excellent carers.
As many of you know, animals are a great passion of mine and I have had pets all my life –many, many pets. I was given my first guinea pig at the age of two and was solely responsible for its care by the age of four. By age five, I had four guinea pigs and a rabbit, and by age seven, I had twelve guinea pigs and four rabbits. This number continued to increase exponentially, as you can imagine, and during the course of my childhood, I (personally) owned 97 pets including hamsters, rats, budgies and tortoises. My family always had cats and dogs too. So, needless to say I am well versed in small animal care. And I’m eager to pass on these precious skills to all the children I work with.
Nibbles and Tucker have been with us for a few weeks so far and they are settling in nicely. I have talked to the children about thinking about how the guinea pigs must feel - suddenly being around 19 noisy giants! of course the children love them and want to hold and stroke them all the time. They show great enthusiasm and no one has been frightened by them, which is great. However, we know that we have to give them 'breaks' during handling sessions, not least so that they can go to the toilet...preferably not on the children!
Tucker, unsurprisingly, likes to eat...a lot. She seems to eat almost continuously, even while being handled. Hence why she was given the name Tucker of the chosen two. And Nibbles, shockingly, seems to enjoy nibbling things...coats are her present favourite. We have, so far, prevented any holes being chewed but she is difficult to distract once she’s had a little nibble of a coat. Even a juicy apple or crunchy carrot doesn’t seem to do the trick when she’s got her heart set on a nice sleeve! Her nibbling seems good-natured though – she’s very gentle. So, although almost identical, Tucker is the larger of the two. Of course, we can only see this when they are sitting next to each other, but that’s most of the time. And it means we have at least one way of telling them apart - it wouldn’t do to be calling them the wrong name.
We are currently learning all about what foods we can give to guinea pigs. The bulk of their diet should be made up of hay and fresh grass, which they must have constant access to. In terms of vegetables and fruit, leafy greens - like kale and broccoli - are the best option and foods high in vitamin C - such as capsicum and orange. I have put a very comprehensive list up on the school board in Koru class if anyone is curious and would like to bring them in any treats. Most vegetables are OK and fruit is good in small quantities as it’s high in sugar.
Over the coming weeks we’ll be introducing some guinea pig-related language material to Koru in particular. We have noticed a huge amount of verbal discussion amongst our children and will be supporting that through various oral language, reading and writing activities.
From now on, we will always be grateful for any donations of newspaper and also bedding material such as sawdust and hay. And our gorgeous girls will adore you if you ever feel like bringing them some delicious fresh treats. And please feel free to pop by Koru class and visit them.