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Thread: Who to get to pig-sit and tips

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    Cavy Slave
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    Question Who to get to pig-sit and tips

    My entire family is going on vacation to the beach in a couple of weeks and I have 12 guinea pigs that I don't know what to do with. I can't bring them with me because of the space they take up and I don't know what else to do. I was going to call our vet's office and see if one of the secretaries could sit for us but the other day my friend had asked if she could pet-sit for us if we ever went out of town. Would this be a good idea? She's under 16 years old (not going to specify for safety reasons) but her mom will be with her, and I am under 16 as well and I am the only one who takes care of the pigs, so being that we are near the same age I don't want to underestimate her just because she is young (like I am). She has two dogs and has had a hamster before, so she has had a little bit of experience. She LOVES animals and she loves my piggies. She came over to my house the other day and seemed to be very careful in handling them, but I don't know if that will be the same if I am not here and I am really really nervous in leaving them at home without me. I also need help in knowing how to prepare for whoever it is that sits for us. What specific instructions should I give her/him and what should I leave behind or write down? I have only been on vacation twice since I got my first guinea pig (May 17, 2013) other than when I went to visit my grandparents for a few days and my mom stayed to care for them, and those two times I actually brought them with me because it was for a week, so I am extremely nervous with leaving them without any family members or anyone who knows them at all in the slightest. Oh and whoever ends up sitting for us only needs to sit for 3-4 days because the beach trip is for an entire week but my dad is coming home after the first weekend because he has to work. So my dad can change the cages if they need them by that time and all the sitter would have to do is feed them and make sure they have water for a couple of days, as well as letting them run around my room so they can get exercise. I'm probably more worried about said person being irresponsible and thinking that they know better than I do and doing thing their way or wanting to constantly hold and pet them and not do it properly, thus injuring them (or possibly their relationship with humans and with me). Hopefully this actually makes sense to you. Anyway please help me know whether I should get my friend to pet-sit or if I should get a vet secretary, what I should write down for whoever it is and how I should prepare, and it would be awesome if you had any tips for me too :P

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    Cavy Slave SquigglyPigs's Avatar
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    Re: Who to get to pig-sit and tips

    I feel like pig-sitting 12 guinea pigs for someone who has never had one would be a bit overwhelming. Lots of people don't realize all of the work that goes into owning guinea pigs and I would rather leave mine at a vet or rescue that is knowledgable about their needs. That being said, 3-4 days isn't a very long time so if you prepare your friend and write down some tips for her, it should be fine. Make sure your friend knows how to pick them up and handle them properly.
    If you do end up letting someone pig-sit, write down daily chores for them. Give them specifics. For instance, "they get 1 cup of romaine lettuce per pig every day". Just keep a log of what you do for them every day so that you don't miss anything. You could also write down contact information for both yourself and the vet in case something goes wrong with the pigs.
    Also be sure to write down if any pigs need special care or intructions. For instance, one of my pigs likes to jump out of my arms when I put her back into her cage. If someone wasn't used to this, she could be seriously injured.

    Ultimately, it's up to you and you know your friend better than we do. Since it's only for 3 or 4 days and they won't need cage cleaning, it should be okay for someone to just feed and water them as long as they are good with handling them and could recognize illness. Personally, I would rather pay some extra money for my local guinea pig rescue to watch over them to make sure they are taken care of properly. Another option is that you could check if there are any guinea pig rescues in your area that can pig-sit.That way, you will have a knowledgable person looking after them and your money will be going towards a great cause.
    Last edited by SquigglyPigs; 05-04-15 at 01:12 pm. Reason: spelling

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    Cavy Slave poop_patrol's Avatar
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    Re: Who to get to pig-sit and tips

    Keep it simple and the friend should be able to do it for 4 days. When I say keep it simple, I mean that you must make sure that the pig-sitter ONLY has to do the basics... that is provide fresh food and water every day. Therefore:

    -If you use fleece, remove it for the duration of your trip. Use disposable bedding and your pig-sitter shouldn't have to change it if you are gone only a few days. The pigs will survive a slightly dirty cage.

    -Pre-package each day's vegetables in plastic bags. Label them. Monday/Tuesday/etc.

    -Do the same for each day's pellets.

    -Most importantly (and really the only thing they NEED to do) ... have the sitter give fresh water every day and refill the hay rack.

    That's it. Eliminate floor time and handling time. Promise the sitter he/she can have all the lap time he/she wants when you get back. But you don't want someone dropping a pig or letting one get into trouble outside the cage while you are gone. If you can't trust the individual to follow this rule, then I wouldn't let them pig-sit.

    Having 4 days of uncleaned disposable litter (assuming you have an adequately sized cage) and lack of floor time will be less stressful than letting a stranger handle them or moving them to a shelter or rescue for those days for safe keeping.

    Good luck.

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    Cavy Slave labeadel's Avatar
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    Re: Who to get to pig-sit and tips

    yep, I was going to say the same thing as poop_patrol. Just have her do the basics and don't worry about all those little things while you're gone on vacation. They'll be fine.

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    Cavy Slave
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    Re: Who to get to pig-sit and tips

    Thanks so much for all of your help and sorry for the late response, I read those posts the day that you posted them but I haven't had time to reply. allisonj30, I would prefer to take them to a vet's office or local guinea pig animal shelter as those are very responsible and knowledgeable places that I know would take good care of my piggies but I have to admit that I don't fully trust that our vet is completely knowledgeable about guinea pigs. She has plenty of surgical knowledge and I wouldn't feel a twinge of insecurity if she were operating on my pigs but I'm not completely sure as to whether or not she even thinks that guinea pigs have to eat hay 24/7 rather than pellets because when we first met her it was actually when one of my babies had gotten sick and we had to find a vet that could treat small animals immediately, so I didn't have the time to ask her many questions. I would take them to a local guinea pig rescue but I'm not aware of any in my area. Also, thank you for pointing out that some piggies may have more special needs than others and that doesn't have to mean medically (i.e. some pigs like to jump out of your arms or out of their cages whereas others may prefer you to place them in their cage). OK, poop_patrol that's some really helpful advice but I have a question, what should I do if I don't have a hay rack in most of the cages? I WOULD say "Give them water once a day, give them the pre-packaged pellets and veggies once a day, and then fill their hay racks up once or twice a day, whenever it gets low." and then it would be very simple, just fill the hay racks to the top, but I don't have hay racks and I'm concerned that she will be confused as to how much to give them and when to refill. Later today she is coming over for me to go over everything but is there anything I need to write down and/or point out other than 1. No letting the pigs out of the cage AT ALL 2. Any odd behaviors or such that my pigs may have and 3. How much to feed and water them. Thank you once again for your help! If I can get through the weekend then maybe I will be able to enjoy the vacation!
    Last edited by Noahsgirl; 05-12-15 at 08:05 am. Reason: spelling issue

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    Cavy Slave poop_patrol's Avatar
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    Re: Who to get to pig-sit and tips

    It all depends on how often your friend can check on the pigs and how much the pigs consume in that time period. Only you know how much they eat and drink. Just make sure that they always have hay (even if just in a pile...though it might get messy) and water available. The more often she visits, the smaller the piles she will have to leave and the less chance for a mess.

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    Cavy Slave
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    Re: Who to get to pig-sit and tips

    Thank you so much for all of your help, the vacation is over now and it was great to think that my babies were taken care of! The only issue I had was when my dad thought it would be a good idea to take our dog and leave the bird and piggies to come back and help the night before we left meaning that they would be uncared for, for around 24 hours. This shocked me greatly but thankfully my mom convinced him to stay home. Aside from that it went great! My friend FaceTimed me Saturday evening and Sunday morning but she didn't any of the other times that she checked in on them. When I came home, the cages were definitely very messy being that my dad had no experience in changing them before and I had to show him how through Face-Time, but they weren't terrible. The only other thing would be that when I got back every inch of the piggies cages were covered in hay. Don't get me wrong, I always want to make sure that they have an adequate amount of hay 24/7 in their cages but when they are given too much, they tend to only eat the stuff on the top and trample the rest and then it gets smelly and messy and they refuse to eat the older stuff at the bottom which means it keeps piling up. All in all it worked out and there weren't any major issues! Thanks for the help! Happy Memorial Day!!

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    Cavy Star, Photo Contest Winner Agrimony's Avatar
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    Re: Who to get to pig-sit and tips

    Glad it went well! Better too much hay than not enough for sure! Also even though piggies require a lot of work they are able to fend for themselves for some time if you are gone, I have left mine up to three days without an issue as long as you prepare ahead of time. Sounds like you had it all under control though and hope you had a nice vacation!

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