As the colder months come closer, we want to be ready in every way for the challenges it brings.
One important aspect of preparing for winters is taking special care of your pet guinea pigs.
Guinea pigs can survive in a wide range of temperatures but when it goes below 64 °F (17.8 °C), you have to ensure a few steps to keep them warm as they’re prone to getting sick in the cold.
Keep reading to learn everything you can do to keep your cavy warm, happy, and safe from danger during the cold months.
What’s the Ideal Temperature Range for Your Guinea Pig?
Guinea pigs prefer to be in temperature range from 60 °F (16 °C) to 75 °F (24 °C).
Therefore, if you live in a place where you get extreme winters, you will have to look into some heat source and other methods to keep your furry friends warm and safe.
When temperatures fall below the ideal range, your guinea pig becomes prone to getting various diseases and in severe cases, may even get frostbite.
Thus, maintaining the right temperature is a must for them.
How to Keep Guinea Pigs Warm Indoors
This can seem like a challenge if you live in city where temperatures drop below freezing point on a regular basis during winters.
But you don’t have to worry as we will give you plenty of tips so you can create a cozy home for your guinea pigs.
Move Their Hutch Inside
Guinea pigs can’t withstand very cold temperatures so when it gets really chilly in winters, it’s best to bring them indoors to create a warm home for them.
Keeping them exposed to very low outside temperatures can put them at risk of catching pneumonia, hypothermia, and other serious illnesses that can even be fatal.
Moreover, if they are kept in cold and damp conditions, they can even develop fungal infections of the skin.
Keep Them in a Room with Blocked Cold Drafts
If you’re living in an old house, cold drafts can make your rooms extra cold and that’s why you need to take some measures to block the movement of drafts so your guinea pigs can stay comfortable and protected.
You can make use of under door draft stoppers that are specifically designed to block drafts. This is particularly important if you face a power outage during winters.
Additionally, you may also need to put towels in the windows to block air circulation even more.
Also, when you’ve placed your guinea pigs in a room, try not to open and close the door too much.
Opening and closing doors and windows frequently will result in cold air getting into the room making the temperature drop rapidly.
Therefore, you need to avoid this as much as possible as too much fluctuation in temperature will lead to adverse health outcomes for your guinea pigs.
Place Your Guinea Pigs in the Center of Your House
If possible, you should place their cages in a central part of your house, away from exterior doors and windows.
Being near an exterior door or window will automatically mean that the guinea pigs will be cooler than a more central location inside your house.
Non-insulated walls or walls with poor quality insulation that face the exterior of your house will lose heat much faster and create a cold environment inside.
Therefore, putting the cage in a central hall or room where the walls do not dissipate the cold and the drafts can’t make it to the interior is the best decision to ensure your pigs are healthy.
Another thing you can do is to add a heating lamp in the room so that the room stays comfortable and warm.
Add Blankets or Towels in their Hutch
Your guinea pig will love a blanket inside their cage as they not only help maintain their body heat but also give them something to snuggle up under.
While you can use any blanket, a small fleece blanket is a great option.
Alternatively, you can also cut up old towels and use them inside the cage.
Extra Bedding for Winter
Bedding is a critical component of your guinea pig’s enclosure that can make all the difference between a warm and cozy home and an uncomfortable one.
Having decent quality bedding that can absorb urine and keep the cage dry and comfortable is extremely important for your guinea pigs to stay safe from infections.
You should use only good quality paper bedding or fleece liners to make up the bottom layer and top it up with some timothy hay or shredded paper bedding.
Create a layer that’s 2 or 3 inches deep so that your guinea pigs can enjoy burrowing into it and trap their body heat inside.
Straw is also a good choice of material for creating the top layer as it traps body heat and reacts well to moisture, in case your pig pees on it.
Avoid using wood shavings such as pine or cedar as they may contain chemicals. They’re also not the best insulators.
Similarly, soft cotton wool bedding isn’t ideal as your guinea pig may eat the shredded pieces which can harm them.
In case you’re running out of a suitable material, you can always use shredded newspaper to create their bedding.
Guinea pigs can use shredded newspaper to build mini nests to keep their bodies warm.
No matter what material you choose for the bedding, make sure you keep it clean and dry.
Throw away any wet bedding and replace it with new material.
Consider Providing Them a Pet-Safe Heating Pad
You can further consider adding a pet-safe heating pad into their cage.
These heating pads are first microwaved to heat them up and then placed in the guinea pig’s cage.
They will mostly stay warm for up to 8 hours after which you will have to reheat them.
Your guinea pigs can safely snuggle up against them especially on those very chilly days when they would love some extra warmth.
These heating pads are easily available in most pet stores.
However, if you don’t want to purchase them, you can also use small hot water bottles as an easy alternative.
Pour some warm to hot water in the bottle and wrap it in a towel before placing it inside the cage. Make sure you don’t use very hot or boiling water to fill the bottle.
Give Them Fresh Hay, Vegetables, and Water Every Day
Just like you, your guinea pig also needs more calories during the cold months to maintain their body temperature.
Thus, providing them with fresh vegetables every day is a must.
Also, ensure that you change their water daily.
However, giving them water idea is a bad idea as your guinea pig will probably not drink it and end up becoming dehydrated instead.
What to Do If You Have to Keep Your Guinea Pigs Outside
Keeping your guinea pigs inside is not always an option.
If that’s the case, here’s what you should do to keep them warm.
Place Them in a Well-Insulated Hutch
If you can’t move your guinea pig inside, you must invest in a good quality hutch for them.
A well-insulated hutch is essential for survival during the cold winter months.
Otherwise, your guinea pigs are bound to fall sick. Insulated hutches create a microclimate inside the hutch that’s comfortable and safe for your cavy and ensures that they stay healthy all year round.
Consider Placing the Hutch in a Covered Place
If you live in very cold climates, just getting an insulated hutch won’t be enough. You will also have to consider moving it to a heated shed or garage.
This is necessary to protect the hutch and its inhabitants from rain and snow which can further dip the temperatures pretty low.
You can install an electric heater in the shed if needed.
Make sure to place a thermometer in the shed to monitor the temperature and take any preventive measures as necessary.
Raise the Height of the Hutch
Raising the height of the hutch helps in keeping the heat trapped inside the hutch and also prevents dampness.
You can do this by adding some legs in the hutch to raise it above the ground. This will break its contact from the ground and will facilitate air circulation to remove dampness.
Guinea pigs also lose a lot of their body heat when they are closer to the ground and cold can radiate in.
Therefore, raising the hutch will minimize this heat loss.
Keep a Check on Food and Water
Always keep the hutch stocked with good quality hay, fresh vegetables, and water.
If you’re going to keep them outside, their caloric requirements would be even higher.
Therefore, providing them with timothy hay and fresh veggies every day will be necessary to keep up with their nutrient intake so they are able to tolerate the harsh weather.
Cover Water Containers to Avoid Freezing
You will have to keep their water bottles covered to prevent the water from turning into ice.
With freezing temperatures, the tip of the water bottles may get frozen restricting the free flow of water.
This may result in your guinea pig getting dehydrated.
You can check for any blockage in the water outlet by tapping the tip of the water bottle every few hours.
Give Them a Place to Run and Exercise
Lack of exercise can lead to several health issues in guinea pigs especially when they are exposed to low temperatures as well.
Good level of activity and exercise also helps keeping their bodies warm.
To facilitate exercise, you will either have to bring them inside or create a well-insulated area outside where they can exercise daily for a couple of hours.
Last Few Words
Living with your guinea pigs in cold weather without proper arrangements can prove to be very risky for them.
Thus, you need to take proper care of them to ensure their health and safety.
Creating a suitable enclosure for them and equipping it with necessary supplies will help your guinea pigs pass through cold days comfortably.
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