Just like any pet, guinea pigs are special in their own way and they have their own special needs. Guinea pigs are native to South America more specifically Peru, their ideal temperature comfort zone is 65 – 75 degrees Fahrenheit.
Anything below 59 degrees or above 77 degrees can cause a guinea pig to easily develop respiratory infections, according to The Institute of Medical and Veterinary Science Australia.
The best way to ensure your pigs’ comfort is first by adding a thermometer inside the hutch. This way you can keep an eye on the temperature being maintained.
Depending on how serious you are about your guinea pigs’ comfort there are wireless thermometers that you allow you to monitor the guinea pig’s habitat from your phone.
We are going to explore how to keep your cavy comfortable during the hottest and coldest times of the year.
Help your cavies beat the summer heat
Just as we mentioned above guinea pigs thrive best in 65 to 75 heat degrees. Guinea pigs are natural-born burrowers. In tropical climates, they live in tunneled habitats and seek out dark and cozy hideouts. They do this to avoid both predators and excessive heat.
Guinea pigs cannot sweat and because of that anything over 77 degrees becomes a danger to a guinea pig. They can overheat quickly. This is especially true considering outdoor wooden hutches and outdoor sheds can heat up very quickly.
If you think your guinea pig pet is hot there is an easy way to quickly check yourself. If you feel their ears they will feel abnormally hot. There are also some other key indicators of a guinea pig overheating.
- More sleepy than usual
The best way to know for sure is to have a thermometer specially designed for small mammals. A normal rectal temperature for a guinea pig is 100.4 – 101.3 F.
If they are becoming overheated it is important to cool them down quickly before heat stroke develops. Of course, prevention is key but if you find that your pigs are dealing with a hot day you can help them beat the heat with these tips.
Ways to keep your guinea pigs cool
- One of the easiest ways to keep your guinea pigs cool is by freezing a large bottle of water or an ice pack and wrapping it up securely in an old, clean towel and placing it in their enclosure. They will love you, even more, when they curl up next to the ice-cold bottle to cool off.
- Move their hutch out of the sun into a cooler location, a shady spot, inside your home or under an umbrella.
- Use a fan to keep air circulating and cool. However, keep the fan from blowing directly on the guinea pigs and make sure they have enough room to move away if they want to.
- A nice cold rung out towel is perfect to provide shade over their run. Simply place it on top and then run a fan onto the towel to help lower the temperature. Make sure that you do not cover the whole hutch because the guinea pigs still need airflow to keep cool. Also, make sure that the towel is not dripping wet so that it does not drench your furry little friends.
- Keep lots of fresh cool water available
- Give your guinea pigs chilled, leafy greens and other fresh veggies. You can get some greens and then place them in the freezer for a short period. Just enough so that they become a little frosty. Do not let them freeze thoroughly though or they will become wilted and unappealing. Cold fruit is a good option, but make sure you stick to a proper feeding guide so that you do not introduce too much sugar to them.
- Ceramic and porcelain tiles always feel cool to the touch no matter the temperature outside. Add a few to your guinea pigs habitat and they will be able to lie down on them when they feel overheated. Just make sure that they are not set in direct sunlight or they will have the opposite effect of being cool. This, my daughter, play with two of our guinea pigs on a Ceramic floor.
- Another way is by getting a cooling pad, like this one on Amazon. Like the tiles, you do not want to place it in direct sunlight.
- Long hair guinea pigs pets have it especially hard during the summer months. Not only do they have to deal with all the heat that guinea pigs have to deal with but they also have to deal with those beautiful long locks. It is this time of year that it is especially important to make them feel more comfortable by brushing them out regularly and removing knots.
- Use a damp, cool cloth to gently wipe them down and freshen them up. You can also use a spray bottle set on the fine mist setting. Keep in mind that not every guinea pig will be a fan of these methods so take care the first time you try it. This is also the perfect way to cool off your guinea pigs if they are overheating.
- Offer these pigs pre-made hideouts, burrows, and tunnels. Stay away from ones made of plastic as these can get too hot. For instance, the product called ‘Pigloos’ is plastic igloos for guinea pigs. However, they do not provide adequate air circulation. Check out some of these non-plastic options from Amazon.
- If you suspect that one of your guinea pigs is suffering from heatstroke DO NOT submerge them in cold water as the shock can be fatal. Instead, dampen their fur with cool, but not freezing water and get them to your veterinary attention right away.
This is a video from Little Adventures on youtube with some other tips and how to look like their guinea pigs on hot weather.
Keeping your guinea pigs warm
Due to changes in temperature and humidity in the winter, guinea pigs become more susceptible to respiratory problems, hypothermia, pneumonia as well as infections. I’ve owned a lot of piggies over the years and this is my great guide resource when you have questions.
Also, due to the damp conditions of the season, fungal skin problems become common. It is very important to keep them comfortable during this time of year.
If you are cold then your guinea pig pet is most definitely going to be cold too. When a guinea pig or even a rabbit gets cold you will notice them trembling or shaking. They will also start burrowing and hiding in their hay.
If your guinea pig is kept outside it is important to keep an eye on their behavior and temperature. A guinea pig hutch should be kept in an area where wind, rain, sleet, and snow cannot blow in.
If the weather gets really bad moving the hutch into an unused garage or heated shed is best. Overall though, the best option is to keep your guinea pig inside the house, in a conservatory, or an unused garage in the winter. If this is not an option here are some ideas to help keep them warm.
Ways to keep your guinea pig warm
- Insulate the hutch
- Cover the hutch, especially at night. There is a great product called “Hutch Huggers” and “Hutch Snuggles” with material designed from NASA. It helps regulate the temperature inside the hutch. You can also cover the front with an old blanket or sack and add extra bedding.
- Make sure that their water bottles do not freeze by checking them every so often. The little ball freezes easily. You can also get specially made bottle covers but regular checks will still be needed. There are heated water bottles, like this one on Amazon, that are a great option.
- Reduce drafts
- Use extra bedding
- A cold guinea pig pet needs more calories to keep warm, so make sure to give them lots of good quality hay to nibble on
- Use a warming pad, like this one on Amazon
- Make sure the roof is in good condition. Sloping roofs are better than flat ones.
- Just as your guinea pig uses more calories in the winter so do other animals like badgers and foxes. Make sure that their hutch is sturdy enough to protect them from outside predators.
- Keeping your indoor guinea pig warm
- If your guinea pigs have their habitat on the floor of your house take precautions to protect them from drafts you may normally not be aware of. Add towels to the windows and use under door draft stoppers.
- Keep your guinea pig away from exterior doors and windows. If possible, keep them in a central part of the house where it is likely to be the warmest.
- If your guinea pig is in a room with an exterior door, try not to open and close the door too much.
- Add blankets and towels to give your guinea pig something to snuggle up under. The smaller the blanket is the better. A small fleece blanket is the best option. You can also cut up old towels.
- Use 2 to 3 inches of shredded paper bedding or straw. Straw is a good choice because it is good at absorbing body heat and reacts well to moisture. This is important in case it becomes urinated on. Spread a thick layer throughout the cage. This will allow them to burrow under it and trap their body heat.
- Avoid shaved wood products like pine and cedar. They can contain chemicals. Also, avoid any type of soft cotton wool bedding because your guinea pig may eat the shredded bits which could be harmful.
- Just like small burrows, tunnels and hideouts can be helpful in the summer they can also be helpful in the winter. If you do not or cannot spend the money on a hutch you can create a snuggle spot out of an old shoebox with one end cut out. Put in some old fleece and pieces of old towels Your pig will happily snuggle up into this cozy corner.
- Another option is to create a fleece snuggle bed. Fold up a fleece blanket so one is side is folded over and three sides are open. Sew up two sides and leave one open, so that they can slip right in.
- There are also options that you can buy on Amazon for cozy corners like this one
- Warming mats will also help keep your guinea pig warm. If you do not want to spend the extra money on a warming pad you can pour warm water into a bottle, wrap it in a towel and set it inside their enclosure. Just make sure that the water is not boiling.
- Help protect them from cold flooring by adding 10 – 12 sheets of newspaper under their cage. You can add shredded paper or straw on top of it for added warmth.
My goal is to help you raise happy and healthy guinea pigs and we hope that these tips and tricks will do just that as the month’s change. Check back for more articles regarding that special guinea pigs in your life.