the IT city, the I.T. Baby


How to not take care of a guinea pig

I’m pigsitting for three cavies for the next week or so. They’re classroom pets in a too-small cage, of a teacher who’s out on medical leave and thought she could leave them and have them taken care of by people at her school but nope. I wrote a bit about this and the world’s smelliest day, but this has been stuck in my head for a couple of weeks now.

I got there for our pig-up – it was originally for four days. Walked into the empty classroom to pick them up and was assaulted by rodent urine smell. Sick rodent smell. It was thick.

Couple of guinea pig cavies babies pretending to be lumberjacks

That their cage was filthy you’ve got, but what happened was worse. Whoever decided to clean it last had the brilliant idea to line the cage with black plastic trash bags, and whoever was taking care of them didn’t notice that they had eaten through the trash bags at some point. Didn’t smell that their little guinea pig stomachs were revolting with liquid plastic filled poo coming out, and didn’t notice or take care of the 2-3 inches of poo in the corners of the cage.

The original idea behind the guinea pig take home is to teach kids responsibility for the critters. What happened due to medical leave and a sub who wasn’t taking care of them was to teach the children in the class to let animals be neglected. To ignore their stink. To look away from sickness.

That’s what the kids learned for it smelled like for at least a week I’m guessing.

Guinea pig being fruits

I got the pigs home, wife contacted the principal, I emailed the teacher who’s out and told her we’re going to take care of them until she’s back unless there were objections (there weren’t, pig safety and care was and is important and not overlooked with the normal teacher.)

We bathed the pigs to get the feces off of them. You float in pig poop for days even a self-cleaning animal needs help. They were solid yellow underneath and the first bath didn’t change that much and I didn’t want to give them another for a few days. Day 3 or 4 I think we gave them another just to attempt to de yellowbelly them.

Day two of not eating plastic and floating in their own urine the poops cleared up. Day eight they start popcorning when they see me or the kids. It’s been nice. Popcorning is when they hop for joy because they think you’re not going to kill them and will probably deliver treats.

Teach your kiddos to mention to you when a classroom pet is neglected. My 7yo knew they stunk but didn’t know to tell anyone that the sub, or whoever was supposed to be taking care of them, wasn’t taking care of them. Knowing when something needs help and to ask for help for others needs to be fundamental.

Also teach your kids to let you know when they’re neglected. The guinea pig cage was not my only concern when I left, just the most pressing one. The principal made a visit and some things happened based on this. I’m told maintenance went in on the weekend to clean up the class room, which had been similarly neglected. Less poop, more scissors on floors, place looking like a hurricane hit. My kiddo was in it and she didn’t know it was half past mess thirty. Like had her room looked like that she’d be cleaning her room for the next several days.

Yeah, something I had not thought of… teach your kids to identify neglect so they’re not neglected. Teach them to identify passive abuse. Because I feel every kid in that class room had been neglected just based on the chaos. I’m not sure if the principal felt the same but the next week the class was split into other class rooms until the teacher gets back. The sub doing other subbing at the school.

Paul King

Paul King lives in Nashville Tennessee with his wife, two daughters and cats. He writes for Pocketables, theITBaby, and is an IT consultant along with doing tech support for a film production company.