Some of these rules are specific for classrooms, some are given to everyone. Rules one and six are the most important ones for classrooms. We ask that if you cannot adhere to these rules that you please be honest with us about it and either adopt a different type of pet or refrain from adopting from us. We are very strict about these policies simply because the good of the animal is our first priority.
1. The pigs must be taken home over the weekend. Pigs sometimes spill their water bottles and if they do that on Friday night, they will be dead on Monday morning. In addition, pigs (unlike hamsters) need to be fed daily, as they will not save food for themselves for the next day. Their hay in particular will be gone by Saturday night. Veggies are also a daily necessity, as is socialization. Guinea pig intelligence is much closer to that of dogs than hamsters, and it is scary for them to not have contact for two straight days. So they absolutely cannot be left at school over the weekend. If you cannot do this, we ask that you please be honest with us and either consider another type of animal or refrain from adopting from us. We'd be happy to help you choose an animal that is more suitable to your situation.
You really have two options here. You can either take the whole cage home (the cages are not heavy--just awkward, so this would not be overly difficult) every weekend or you could get two cages, one for home and one for school, and just bring the pigs home in a small cat carrier (this is significantly more expensive in terms of supplies, but moderately easier).
2. All interaction with students must be supervised, and the students must be taught how to properly hold the pig. This one seems pretty obvious, but it's important because pigs have delicate backs. Their rear ends have to be supported when they're held or they risk painful or broken backs.
3. Pigs cannot be put in balls, despite the fact that pet stores sell balls labeled for pigs. The play balls that people use for hamsters and such curve in the opposite direction of their backs. It's painful for them and can easily result in accidental broken backs if someone kicks it or the pig rams something too hard. Pigs use playpens, not balls. You can get those at the pet store too or you can make them yourself (we can tell you how).
4. Pigs must have time out of their cages every day, both during the school year on the weekends, and in the summer as well. They are social creatures. They get distressed and depressed without social contact from their people. With a pair of pigs, this is somewhat less likely, but they will forget their people skills if they're not handled daily, which can result in biting and such. In addition, it can be distressing to leave pigs alone longer than they're used to--they live by their routine, more so than any other animal I've ever encountered.
5. As with all other adopters, you must provide a cage of the proper minimum size and the appropriate type of food. See the Guinea Pig Care page for information on cage size and food.
6. Final rule. You have to take the pigs home in the summer. They cannot be given to students over the holiday. We require this because pigs have very specific dietary and social needs, and we can only adopt one out if we can guarantee that it will be provided for appropriately year round for the rest of its life. Plus, they do know who their people are. The pigs in my basement, for example, all know my voice and come running when they hear me. If someone else goes down there with me, they all hide. They know me, they know their names, they know their feeding schedules, and it's traumatic for them to lose their people over and over again.