Just because you love to capitalize on your vacation time and visit distant lands on a regular basis doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be able to own a pet. However, not all animals are suited for solitude. Here are a few self-sufficient critters that will fare just fine while you’re away ― although please note that pet-sitters who can feed your pet and clean up after it are recommended for all trips that exceed one day .
There are plenty of folks who are sensitive or allergic to cat dander, as well as plain ol’ feline haters. But as far as cuddly house pets are concerned, cats are far more independent and self-sufficient than their canine counterparts. While dogs should be walked at least once daily, cats require little to no human-induced exercise and are capable of relieving themselves without owner assistance.
Pet-sitter Instructions: According to the nest, a cat’s daily water consumption should match its caloric intake. Self-dispensing feeders and water dishes will keep your cat(s) happy while you’re away, but a pet-sitter should still visit the house at least once daily to feed the cats and provide water, clean the litter box, and check for any medical issues. This is generally less expensive than a kennel or an animal boarding facility.
Siamese Fighting Fish
Also known as betta fish, these aquarium dwellers offer more for spectators than other gilled pets. They will actually notice people who walk by their bowls, and regular feeding can train them to ‘beg’ on cue. Unlike other fish, bettas don’t require roommates. In fact, the fish earned its name from an old-time gambling practice that would pit two males to the death. One Siamese fighting fish per tank will do just fine.
Pet-sitter instructions: According to Betta Bits, the fish’s diet should primarily consist of pellets that are supplemented with brine shrimp; they require daily feedings. Also make sure the aquarium temperature consistently hovers somewhere between 76 and 82 degrees Fahrenheit, and that the water is replaced weekly.
African Dwarf Frogs
Compared to other amphibians, the African dwarf frog is considered relatively self-sufficient―and for this reason, they have been popular pets for more than 50 years. They’re also graceful and endlessly watchable.
Pet-sitter Instructions: It’s a common misconception that African dwarf frogs only eat once a week, or that they can remain healthy in the same water for up to three months. According to Petco, the frogs should be fed once daily; their typical diet consists of bloodworms, brine shrimp, and sinking pellets. Their water filter and aquarium temperature should be monitored daily, as well; tell the pet-sitter to gauge the water quality once a week, and to change between 10 and 25 percent of the water if your trip will exceed two weeks.
These resourceful little crustaceans will provide plenty of entertainment, thanks to their ability to move from shell to shell. They are also durable; some species can live up to 30 years if they are cared for and well-fed. And don’t be fooled by the name; most experts say that hermit crabs crave interaction, and there should be at least two in your tank (with plenty of shells to go around).
Pet-sitter Instructions: Hermit-Crabs.com notes the hermit crab’s aquarium should maintain a constant temperature of at least 75 degrees Fahrenheit and a humidity level of at least 70 percent. They are not picky eaters, but hermit crabs require food that contains calcium, carotene, and antioxidants at least once a day.
Pets, or livestock? Either way, backyard chickens are a great source of fertilizer (not to mention the best eggs you’ve ever tasted). They’re also fairly self-sufficient, and require little maintenance once the coop is established and boundaries have been set. Whether you’re home or away, it’s also important to ensure your backyard is secure ― and nasty critters like raccoons and opossums won’t be able to invade your property and harm your fowl.
Pet-sitter instructions: Chickens should be fed in their coop once or twice daily, and their in-house meals can be supplemented with handfuls of ‘chicken scratch’ throughout the day. If they are laying, check the coop (or each hen’s normal ‘spot’) for fresh eggs and remove them; hens that do not lay can become ‘egg-bound’, which is a potentially fatal condition.
By Brad Nehring