It depends what you will be most comfortable with. I don't leave my rabbits often, but when I have, they've stayed at home. Rabbits that are used to a long-time regular schedule and location can be easily stressed by something new. Not all of our bunny sitters have been rabbit savvy, but they have always been animal lovers who have an interest in helping out.
I've found that the best thing to do is leave a very simple list of chores (just the necessities). No one is going to read a thick packet of instructions, and people who don't own rabbits simply won't care...and will likely be overwhelmed by it. I just have a simple one-page list of feeding/watering/cleaning instructions and I've always been greeted by happy bunnies upon my return.
We are all so connected now via cell phones and internet that if anything out of the ordinary pops up, you can be easily reached for questions or concerns. I definitely prefer leaving them at home, although I miss them and worry about them either way! Pretty sure I am more worried than they ever are.
How long are you going to be gone for? If it is a short time, like a weekend or so, then them staying home could be better. But if you will be gone longer, then boarding them where they can be more attention would be preferred.
It can also depend on how your rabbits handle stress. Some rabbits just don't do well away from home, so boarding them would not be the first choice. But a rabbit that is more outgoing would probably be fine in a new environment.
Lisa, you´re asking a tough one here. I know how you feel, I was not really happy about taking all their stuff to my friend´s house plus I knew that they wouldn´t have any out time. After what happened, would I have changed it if I went again....probably not, I still think they were happier at home.
It is great to find someone who understand bunnies to give them attention but you´d be housing them not just in a different environment but in a different cage set up so not sure. That was one of the big downers for me in that it was just too much stuff to move and I didn´t have a big enough xpen to build a run for them that I though would be big enough to get quality exercise.
So I guess what I´m saying is that you really know your buns the best and know how they deal with any changes and how you think it may affect them.
Both are valid solutions to cover the holidays but both have their pros and cons and I think you need to sit down and really think of the one that will least impact on their needs.
Don´t know if this has been helpful but that´s my slant on it.
Lisa if your like me you'll probably have your mom stop by your house a couple of time anyway if nothing else so but to pick up the mail and make it look like there is someone home. So I say have her do it. And if anything comes up she can always call you. But that way Archie won't get stress because we all know that Agnes would be fine going anywhere :spintongue.
I feel for you on this one. I vacation abroad once every two years or so and luckily for the pets but unfortunately for my marriage it's had to be seperate vacations. But I know eventually it will happen and I wonder what I'll end up having to do. Good luck.
I'd leave the buns home. It's so much stress on them to move around, and if it were my bunnies, I know they would hate being away from here. I've never had a really rabbit savvy person rabbit sit for us and we've never had a problem. As long as they're responsible, good with the buns, I know them well and they have contact numbers for me and the vet, I don't worry that much.
For me it would be having them stay home. I feel with good instruction and the vets number that that would be best because leaving home would cause them to get digestive upset! I've noticed neither one handles leaving home very well. I wouldn't really expect the sitter to problem solve any how. I leave them with the instruction, "When in doubt, call the vet!" I'd rather pay a fee for an unnecessary exam, than have a dead rabbit!
My last bunny was very, very mellow and laid back so I would take him to my friend's house and he was quite happy. He was a favorite of their neighbors and he got lots of attention and free play time. He seemed very happy to run and play on the screened porch and hang out with everyone.
My 2 new bunnies are a lot higher strung and don't really settle when they are somewhere new. They just hide and won't play. They are much happier with a little less frequent attention but living in familiar surroundings, in their own condo in their own home, rather than in a temp cage somewhere else. I have a friend who can stop by and check on them every day or every other day on her way home from work.
You know your buns better than anyone so I'd take their temperaments into considerations when making a choice and go from there. If you can have your family member come over so that you can go over the routine and give them a little education on the signs of illness, that may make you feel better about leaving them home for your family to take care of. Maybe write up something about things to look out for so they don't have to remember (ie, that they normally eat x amount of hay or pellets, or what their poop or potty habits are normally, and normal behaviors). I also make sure I have a dedicated shelf in the fridge for 'bunny safe' veggies - they can have anything on those shelves without worry.
Another thought: If you were to leave them at home, could you set up a pen for them? That would allow more out of cage time, but make it easier on your mom and sister. If they can drop by twice a day, they can let the buns out in the morning and put them back in the evening. As long as the pen is secure and they won't get into stuff, it should work. You can use tarps, exercise mats and/or blankets to cover the floor.
I have been thinking about this too, because we're going to Pittsburgh for 4 or 5 days the first week in April. Originally, I was going to board the dog, keep the cats in the house and then I didn't know what to do with Ellie. I was going to board her too, but I was nervous because I don't think that the boarding place is that rabbit savvy. But now, I've made the decision to have my mom come and stay at my house with all the animals, thats mostly because I'll have newish chicks and they need to stay cooped up and protected, not all willy-nilly in the yard.
But I was in the same place you are before the hen went broody.
I think if you'll only be gone for a few days, then they should stay at home. Have your mom and sister come and do the basics, like Julie said, leave a simple easy to follow list, lol. They may not get much out of the cage time, but at least they'll be at home. They'll also be really happy to see you when you get home! I think Ellie will feel the same way as your buns, like wth? She probably won't get a whole lot of out of the cage time either, because my mom won't let her out.
I'm sure they'll be fine.
Could you open their cage up and put an x-pen around it? So they could get in and out of their condo and have a few feet outside of the cage for a run. I might do that too, with Ellie. You just have to make sure that its secure and they won't get stuck in it or anything, do a test run for a few days before you leave or something like that?
Or they'll be fine in their condo.
I agree whole-heartedly with the suggestions to use an x-pen. I'd be afraid that all that forced togetherness in their cage might potentially be a problem or stress on their bond. (But I may be admittedly more paranoid about that)
I've been wrestling with the same thing anticipating a Spring vacation.
You know my buns are out all day, but I do use an x-pen if I am going to be gone for several hours during the day. I've been toying with keeping the x-pen set-up while I'm gone. My only concern was that they'd get un-used to being locked in their cage at night. But that wouldn't be as bad as them possibly getting irritated with each other from not having their usual free time.
I don't know how far away your mom and sister live, but I'd think they could bring some busy work and hang out with them for at least an hour or so of out time.
I'm making a similar decision for my spring break. I'm going to a symposium out of state for a few days and we're deciding between having another vet student friend come over and take care of our pets for those days or me leaving the small animals with my mom a few hours away.