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Old 12-09-2013, 11:31 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Hedgie Babysitting Rates??

Hey all,

As many of you know, I work for a pet store and have recently had several regulars who have asked me to babysit their hedgie(s) over the holidays.

I have no idea how much to charge for my services, and I do have the space to sit for a few hedgies, where they each have enough space across the room to "quarantine" them.

So, the real question is, how much does one charge to sit for a hedgehog? One couple will be gone from Dec. 13- Jan 18th!
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Old 12-09-2013, 11:38 PM   #2 (permalink)
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I'll be watching the thread for answers/opinions...I do pet sitting as well (though I've only ever pet-sat for one hedgie), and I'm absolutely terrible at figuring out how much to charge. I don't want to overcharge, so I usually end up undercharging instead & my dad yells at me.
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Old 12-09-2013, 11:42 PM   #3 (permalink)
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I know! I mean, I don't want to be pushy or anything, but it is 5 weeks of caring for another ball of quills! Especially if I am going to try to give her cuddle/explore time, it is going to be a large chunk of my evenings. The people are all so nice, and we end up talking all the time at the store, but that is another body, feeding/loving routine and wheel/cage/feet cleanings.

But, I would love to be able to make everyone happy in this situation and we all know how difficult it is to find someone knowledgeable to watch over an exotic pet.
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Old 12-09-2013, 11:47 PM   #4 (permalink)
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My current big job is a four-month (!!!) cat-sitting job for 5-6 cats. I'm not actually earning as much as I'd like (I asked for twice the amount of money as I did last time, and we comprised with halfway between), but because I have to drive to the house, as well as take the time to clean bowls, feed, scoop litter boxes, give a little bit of petting & loving, and clean up any messes (if I have time; as well as washing litter boxes when I have time), I'm getting about $18 a day, going out three days a week.

Since you're offering a) space in your own house (though it's not gas money, it's still a pretty nice thing) b) expert care and c) x amount of time out of your schedule for cuddles, care, etc., I wanna say $10-15 a day seems reasonable to me for at least 1 hour of time + room/board. Kennels usually charge even more than that, as far as I know, and very, very few of them would accept or know how to care for a hedgehog as you do.

...But then, it's easy for me to say since I'm not the one that'd be asking for $300 for a month of one hedgehog. Hopefully some others will weigh in on this on what seems reasonable!
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Old 12-09-2013, 11:52 PM   #5 (permalink)
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I sometimes work as a freelance contractor working in a few different industries. Undercharging is a mistake I've made too often at this point, so I at least like to have some idea of the costs (emotional, physical) associated with what I'm doing. So, while I have no idea what I'd charge for hedgehog-sitting, here's my initial thoughts on how you should figure it out.

What's a normal pet-sitting rate? Add on a surcharge for exotics: 15%

You'll be supplying special needs (lights & heating). My region has ridiculously low rates so I have no idea what is reasonable anywhere else, but I can give you the raw numbers. A light is roughly 60W x 12 hours = 60kW-hrs, while heating depends on what your ambient temperature is. I remember you're somewhere warm enough that the CHEs rarely flicker on? so that'd be maybe 100W x 3 hours = 300kW-hrs. Add 'em up, that's 360 kW-hrs, round up to 400 kW-hrs per day and multiply by local power rates for basic cost. Then add on a 15% markup. (At my local rates, that'd be something like $5/month.)

I assume that the hedgehog-parents would provide food, and that water is negligible cost in your part of the world. If you're having to pay for either of those, calculate it up (round to the nearest bag for food), add the 15% markup.

Next is the care and handling. Handling a hedgehog is a skilled trait, and someone with as much experience as you have will be able to cater to explorers, cuddlers, etc. Call it double whatever the local minimum wage is, x 0.5-1 hour a day. Given the terrifying low US minimum wage, call that $10? 15?

Add on cage-cleaning time. Call it 0.25 hours per day, plus a full-cage-clean & laundry at 1 hr/week. In reality, that's a minimum-wage job of an unskilled nature, so that's the rate I'd use to calculate it.

Finally, you're an on-call medical expert supervising them, being paranoid for them, and knowing when something is a normal "Eh, new home, it'll pass" vs emergency "We are making a midnight trip to the vet right now, even if I can't get ahold of the owners." That is a not-insubstantial responsibility that you're taking on, requiring knowledge, experience, and good judgement. Get an agreement that the normal-owner covers all vet expenses, and that you aren't responsible if something horrible happens to little hedgehog on your watch (formally, the concept is indemnity insurance), and I'd consider it a 20% markup (on the total of everything else discussed) to cover the responsibility. If they don't agree that you aren't responsible if something goes wrong, I'd consider it more like a 100% markup.

---

If you were a serious contractor, once you did all that, you'd multiply it by 150% (a 50% markup) or even 200% for everything you didn't anticipate. Instead, look at it and go, "Is this worthwhile for the stress it will add on my life? Will I resent that tiny ball of quills?" If it's enough to make you do a tiny dance and feel guilty, leave it be and use it as your quoted price.

Then take that quote price, and explain to the hedgehog-parents exactly how you got it. Go through the list. Most people don't understand how much things really cost (or really should cost), so will have a bit of sticker shock. Once you have them blinking, make a conciliatory gesture of, "But since we're friends..." or "Since I want to make sure your little guy is health while you're gone..." knock off a week's pay, or 10%, or some other nice, pretty round number so that they end up feeling like they're getting a deal, and will make you feel less like you're overcharging (which you wouldn't be anyway, but I still feel bad about the rates I charge for my profession!).
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Last edited by Annie&Tibbers; 12-09-2013 at 11:59 PM.
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Old 12-10-2013, 12:03 AM   #6 (permalink)
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lol Thanks Annie, way to terrify me!

Yeah, I'm in South Florida. It has been ~82 F recently, and we do have the heat kick on when the weather man says it is going to be below 75 F, though it rarely happens.

It seems so far like the consensus is from $10 to $15. I told her maybe $5 a day, but that I would have to think about it! lol I am so glad I asked, thanks for all the quick replies!! Like I said, they are going out of town Friday! So, not a lot of time to prepare.
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Old 12-10-2013, 12:07 AM   #7 (permalink)
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...have I mentioned my job is to think about disasters? Really, really inventive disasters, sometimes. I am not the most cheerful person to be around at parties. Unless you like doom. And then I'm maybe a bit terrifyingly cheerful about the inevitable end of the universe.

I'll add giving terrifying rate calculations to my list of skills.
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Old 12-10-2013, 12:20 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Well, as an English major, anything involving numbers (besides page numbers) is terrifying. I will have to ask the lady to meet up with me so we can talk about all these issues ahead of time. Better safe than sorry. Luckily, I have an emergency exotic vet just a few minutes from my house. Even more lucky, I have not had a need of their services yet. But it is another good thing to point out.
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Old 12-10-2013, 12:45 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Oh! The math is terrifying? I can do that!

Normal pet-sitting rate: seems to be $15-$30/day in the US.
Add on a surcharge for exotics: 15% (multiply by 1.15)
So that's $17.25/day to $34.50/day
Call this our reality-check to see if we get a similar number at the end of the other calculations.

-----
Heating & light: call it $5/month, and in reality, waive the cost of it, but mention it as an aspect of care.
Food & water: they provide and/or negligible, so $0.
Care & cuddles: $10-$15/day.
Cleaning: $2/day + $7/week.
Add it all up (including $1/day to take care of the $7/week major clean) gives a subtotal: $13-$18/day

Medical experience surcharge: 20% (multiply by 1.2): $15.60 to $21.60

Finally, the "I didn't think of that..." contractor markup of 50% (multiply by 1.5)
Total: $23.40 to $32.40

...which is pretty close to the cat&dog pet-sitting rate with a 10% to 50% markup (depending on if you're high-end or low-end).

-----
If it were my little quillball, and I wasn't asking a friend who already adores him to take on the privilege of cleaning up after him, paying $20/day to make sure he was in expert care that would look out for him, be responsible for worrying for him while I couldn't, and would have him social and happy when I came home, is a reasonable pricetag. At $5/day, you're going to end up resenting the extra work and the time taken away from your own herd. It'd make me sad to have my small creature living with someone who was impatient for me to get home and take him back.
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Last edited by Annie&Tibbers; 12-10-2013 at 12:49 AM.
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Old 12-10-2013, 12:56 AM   #10 (permalink)
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Moments after my editing-window timed out, I realized: nail trimming.

Not an issue for the short-duration stays, but of that crazy month-long visit, that's freaking hazard pay for stress if he or she is an uncooperative hedgehog! Maybe $5/week on top of the care & cuddling to keep nails trimmed? I refuse to re-calculate everything to accommodate that, though.
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