When winter months come closer, we want to prepare in every possible manner for the challenges ahead. But what should we do with our guinea pigs? Knowing how to take care of your guinea pigs in those cold days is extremely important. This post should answer all your questions regarding how to keep guinea pigs warm in those winter days?
Guinea pigs enjoy a wide range of temperatures, and there is no need for you to worry in those winter days until and unless the temperature is above 16°C(60°F). However, if there is a fluctuation below that, then you might need to ensure a few steps to keep them warm.
So, now that you know guinea pigs can be susceptible to cold if the temperature drops below 16°C, you should change a few things so that your guinea pigs have an enjoyable winter.
The first and most important decision to make is whether you want to keep your guinea pigs inside or outside your house?
While it is recommended to keep your guinea pigs inside if the temperature in your regions goes below 16°C(60°F) but even if you have no option and need to keep them outside then we can make a few adjustments to make things work smoothly.
We need to keep our guinea pigs warm during winters, but how warm is the question which no one thinks about? So, let us begin by understanding that first.
How warm do guinea pigs need to be?
The ideal temperature for guinea pigs ranges from 16°C(60°F) to 24°C( 75°F ). If you live in a place where winters are extreme, then you might need to look into some heat source or some other alternative method to keep them warm in their enclosure.
If the temperature drops below 16°C(60°F), then your guinea pig might suffer from various diseases and may even freeze to death in some extreme cases. So, maintaining an ideal range of temperature in their enclosure is a must.
How to keep guinea pigs warm inside?
Keeping your guinea pigs warm inside can be challenging, especially if you live in an area where temperatures can fall below freezing point.
So, I have collected some of the best tips up my sleeves to share with you all so that you can take care of your guinea pigs in those cold days.
Avoid Opening/Closing doors Frequently
Opening and closing doors and windows frequently can lead to cold air getting into your home, which can cause the temperature inside your home to drop rapidly.
Try to minimize the use of doors and windows so that the temperature inside remains stable. Too much fluctuation in temperature is adverse for your guinea pig’s health.
It is also a wise move to do, especially during the occasion of power outrage when maintaining a stable environment can be a challenge.
Block any drafts or ventilation
If you live in a house where you have drafts in doors and windows that can let cold air pass through, then you should consider using a towel or under door draft stopper to prevent air circulation.
These drafts can make your room cool pretty quickly, so using something to block them in pretty important. Consider blocking all the drafts in the room, especially in the room you have placed your guinea pigs.
Heating the home
If you live in a place where the temperature drops quite drastically, then consider adding a heat source in your home.
It can either be an electric heater or a wood stove or any other alternative. Having a source of heat in your home is quite essential, especially in those cold days when the temperature drops below 10°C.
It can help to keep your home warm and maintain a steady temperature for your guinea pigs.
Consider moving your guinea pig
Moving your guinea pigs to the central part of your home is ideal, especially during winter.
The exterior walls can radiate cold inside your home; also, the drafts of doors and windows are one of the primary culprits in making the home cooler.
Moving them to the central hall or room where the walls cannot radiate the cold, and the drafts cannot make the room cold is a wise decision to make.
Also, if possible add a heating lamp in the room so that the room remains warm and comfortable.
Bedding to keep guinea pigs warm inside?
Bedding is a crucial part of the enclosure that can make or break things. Having a good quality bedding that can absorb the pee and keep the cage dry is critical in those cold days, as wet bedding can easily make your guinea pig ill.
Consider using good quality fleece liners or paper bedding for the bottom layer if you have a C&C or midwest cage. You can top it up with some hay or shredded paper bedding creating a 2-3 inch deep layer where guinea pigs can burrow into.
Hay and paper bedding are excellent in absorbing body heat and maintaining it, which is a must in those cold days. Guinea pigs love to burrow, and having some bedding materials where they can burrow and protect from the cold is essential for them.
Avoid wood shavings and cedar or pine bedding if you are using the same. These are not one of the best insulators and can also cause some respiratory diseases among your guinea pigs.
Consider giving them a heating pad
You can consider adding some heating pads into the cage. Heating pads usually need a microwave to heat up, which can then be placed in the cage.
It will remain hot for up to 8 hours and are a great source of heat for your guinea pigs. Guinea pigs love to snuggle against those in those cold days, and also they are entirely safe for them.
Provide them with lots of hiding places
Having small hiding places in the cage is a great way to protect our guinea pigs in the cold days. Guinea pigs love to snuggle into hiding spaces as it helps in maintaining their body heat.
You can either get a plastic made hiding spaces for your guinea pig or fleece made snuggle bed, which they can get into and remain protected from the cold.
Providing fresh hay, vegetable, and water daily
Guinea pigs need a lot more calories during those cold days to keep up with their body temperature. Providing hay and fresh vegetable daily is a must for them.
You must also make sure you change the water daily. However, avoid serving warm water as your guinea pig might not drink; it may end up getting dehydrated.
Also, use a cover to protect the water bottle from freezing if the mercury level drops below the freezing point.
How to keep guinea pigs warm outside?
Keeping your guinea pigs outside is a big challenge in itself, let alone in those snowy winter days. So, today, I wanted to share an essential checklist which you need to take care of if you’re going to house your guinea pigs outside in winters.
Get a well-insulated hutch
If you are considering keeping your guinea pigs outside all year round, then you need to invest in a good quality hutch for them.
Having a hutch which is well insulated and can last during those cold winters is a must. If the air passes through and the hutch has a damp and cold living environment, then your guinea pigs might fall sick easily. So, consider these things in mind while buying one for your guinea pigs.
Consider moving the hutch into a shed or garage
If you live in those places where the temperature during winter falls quite low, then you might need to consider moving your hutch in some shed or garage.
Although the shed might not create the environment like indoors but will protect them from rain and snow, which can dip the temperatures pretty low.
If you don’t have an option of a shed, then consider hugging the hutch to a corner of your house where it can be a little protected from strong wind and rain. Although not the ideal situation, but is a right step towards comforting them.
Adding some extra layer of insulation
Adding a waterproof cover to protect the hutch from rain and keeping it dry is crucial to keep your guinea pigs warm.
If the hutch gets wet from inside, your guinea pigs may suffer due to the drop of temperature, so adding a cover to keep the rain out is essential.
You can cover the hutch from the front side with some old blanket overnight so that the heat remains in and cold air remains out.
Also, you can either use Foil bubble wrap(these are those silver color bubble wrap) or Polystyrene sheets to cover the hutch from all sides.
This will add an additional level of insulation, which will keep the hutch warm in those cold days. Make sure you insulate the roof well, as heat rises and escapes from the ceiling the most. So, having a well-insulated roof is a must.
Raising the hutch height
Raising the height of the hutch will help in keeping the heat trapped in and prevent dampness. You can raise the hutch above the ground by adding some legs in it.
Damp rises through the wood if the bottom remains wet for a prolonged period. Thus raising the hut can help in breaking the contact from the ground and will also allow air circulation, which will prevent damp.
A lot of body heat also gets lost through the ground as cold can radiate in, so raising the hutch will also solve this issue.
Bedding to keep guinea pigs warm outside?
Having a good quality bedding is crucial to keep guinea pigs warm. If you plan to keep your guinea pigs outside, you need to ensure the litter remains dry and also maintains body heat.
Adding at least 2-3 inches of bedding in the hutch will absorb the urine your guinea pigs do and also will help in retaining the body heat.
Using good quality paper bedding, along with lots of hay, will be great to keep your guinea pig warm.
Keeping the hutch dry
Always ensure that the hutch remains dry and free from dampness as it will help retain the heat inside.
Keeping the hutch dry by protecting it from rain and changing the bedding frequently will help in keeping the guinea pigs warm and protected throughout winter.
Check on water and food daily
Providing your guinea pigs with good quality hay and fresh vegetables daily is a must, especially in those cold winter days.
Guinea pigs need a lot more food in winter than in summer as their bodies burn more calories in cold weather.
Providing high-quality timothy hay alongside fresh veggies daily will keep up with their nutrients needs and thus keep them healthy.
Cover water bottles to avoid freezing
Covering your guinea pigs water bottle with a cover is a must to prevent the water from freezing. As the mercury level drops, the water bottle tip may get frozen, restricting the flow of water.
Checking the tip by tapping it every few hours is a must if the weather is freezing outside. Many people consider adding a bowl, but it is hazardous to do so because if the bowl tips over and soak the entire bedding, then your guinea pig might get cold pretty quickly.
Consider adding some heating pads
Adding some heating pads can be a great comfort during those cold nights. Consider heating a few pads and placing it inside the hutch so that your guinea pigs can snuggle and pass through the night pretty comfortably.
Having a heat source in such cold weather is a great way to keep your guinea pigs warm.
Provide a run or place to exercise
Guinea pigs need to exercise even in cold weather. You will either need to bring them in or have a well-insulated run outside where they can exercise for a few hours daily.
Lack of exercise can lead to various health issues in guinea pigs. Exercise also helps them in keeping their bodies warm, which is excellent for those cold winter days.
Also Read: How Much Exercise Do Guinea Pigs Need A Day?
Protection from predators
During the winter months, foxes, coyotes, and other predators get hungrier as there is a lack of food in the area, which makes them bolder.
Make sure you have a sturdy hutch to survive the attacks of a predator. Also, taking additional measures for the safety of the hutch is essential during that phase.
Consider adding a thermometer
Adding a smart thermometer that can send the temperature reading of the surrounding directly to your phone is a great way to monitor your guinea pig’s environment.
If you can add such a thermometer, then you can ensure that the temperature in the hutch is within the permissible limits, and also you can take specific steps if it falls below the threshold.
If you cannot get a smart thermometer, consider adding a normal thermometer and keep checking it from time to time to ensure that the temperature inside the hutch remains stable.
How cold is too cold for guinea pigs outside?
Anything below 15°C(59°F) is too cold for guinea pigs outside. If you live in an area where the mercury dips below that point, then consider moving your guinea pigs inside.
Living your guinea pig out in such cold weather without a proper enclosure can be risky for them. Make sure you have made all the possible arrangements for them if you plan to live your guinea pigs outside.
Guinea pigs are sensitive to weather and temperature, so we need to take proper care of them to ensure they live a healthy life. Having a suitable enclosure with all the essential supplies and following some primary care we discussed earlier could help your guinea pigs pass through those cold days pretty comfortably.
A quick tip: Get a companion(or more) for your guinea pig so that they can cuddle among themselves and retain their body heat. This is also a great way to keep themselves warm in those winter months.