You’ve got the perfect guinea pig housing set up, but what do you do when the temperature drops? And what do you do when your guinea pigs need to keep cool in the summer?
Guinea pigs are vulnerable to all extremes of weather and very cold or very hot temperatures are dangerous for them. During the warmer months of the year, your guineas will be happy housed outdoors in a large, good quality hutch with attached run. In winter, it may be best to move them indoors. In this section, we’ll cover:
Winter-proofing outdoor housing ● Tips for moving guinea pigs indoors ● Adapting to the heat of summer
Did you know?
Winter-proofing your guinea pigs’ outdoor housing
Pile extra hay in sleeping areas (such as carboard boxes with entrance holes cut out) for your piggies to snuggle up in and change bedding materials regularly to keep things fresh and dry. Consider adding dedicated hay areas which can be insulated and adapted in winter weathers. You could even provide them with a Pigloo each. These are made from a durable cotton outer, a layer of wadding and a hardwearing fleece inner and are a great place for your piggies to snuggle and snooze.
Are sheds good homes for guinea pigs?
Wooden Wendy Houses or garden sheds make an ideal home for your guinea pigs, especially if you have a group. Sheds can easily be converted with mesh doors and a step over barrier to stop them escaping. A shed offers more floor space for your guinea pigs and will enable you to socialise with your piggies throughout the year, whatever the weather.
Guinea pigs still need regular exercise during the winter. If there’s never ending wind and rain, allocate a room indoors (not too warm) where they can have some playtime every day. Your guinea pigs will enjoy foraging for treats in piles of hay and tunnels and boxes to hide in.
Feeding only the best quality food will go a long way to helping your guinea pigs stay in the best of health throughout the changing seasons. Plenty of high-quality feeding hay, grass-based nuggets containing vitamin C and fresh greens will help your guinea pigs maintain healthy skin, coat, eyes, teeth and digestion.
Adapting your guinea pigs to the heat of summer
Where is the sun?
For outdoor guinea pigs, look at where the sun’s rays are positioned throughout the day and reposition outdoor accommodation, so your pets are sheltered from direct sunlight. A blanket placed on top of one end of your pets’ run will provide a shady, cool place.
Where are the windows?
With indoor guinea pigs, move them well away from windows and draw the curtains. Using an electric fan in the room where indoor pets live can help keep the air circulating – make sure the fan is not near enough for any wires to be reachable and never direct it straight at your guinea pigs’ cage.
Fresh clean water
Guinea pig hygiene
Try a flannel
For hot guinea pigs, try gently stroking their fur with a cool, damp flannel. As the water evaporates, it will provide a cooling effect.
Invest in some specially designed small pet or guinea pig cooling products. There’s an innovative product called Ice Pod that’s suitable for guinea pigs. Simply pop the Ice Pod into your freezer, then, once it’s nice and cold, place it in your guinea pigs’ accommodation for them to lie on or near to.
Create shady areas
Try draping well-rung out cold wet towels over hutches to cool them down. Avoid plastic guinea-pig igloos as these can become very hot in the summer and replace them with an alternative hidey-hole such as a cardboard box with an entrance and ventilation holes cut into it.
Guinea pig hygiene
Grooming is key
Brush long-haired guinea pigs daily as matted fur traps heat. Medium- haired breeds will need brushing a few times a week to remove the dead hairs. Short-haired breeds will just need a weekly going over. If it looks like a prolonged heatwave has set in, some pets may benefit from a summer trim.
A healthy weight
Keeping your pet at a healthy weight is a great way to help them during hot weather – being heavier than they should makes it harder for them to stay cool.
TIP! Always be quiet and gentle around guinea pigs. When approaching them, crouch down and talk softly and let your pets come to you. Offer your hand to sniff then gently place your hand across their shoulder, with the thumb tucked between the front legs on one side. You should then be able to slowly lift your guineas and support their weight by putting your other hand under the bottom. Hold your pets on your lap or, if you’re standing, close to your chest.