Tag Archives: winter

Do guinea pigs go into hibernation in winter

Do guinea pigs go into hibernation in winter?

Guinea pigs enjoy a certain temperature that they encounter.

They really like living in temperatures between 65-75 degrees Fahrenheit.

This is the ideal temperature range for piggies who are originally from warm South Amercian Andean countries such as Argentina and Chile.

They are used to living in warm to cool climates high up the Andean mountains where the weather is variable depending on how high up they go.

So if you have a guinea pig that is exposed temperatures below 65 degrees Fahrenheit then this becomes not so comfortable for them.

Guinea pigs the great survivors of the Andes mountains.

They have to find ways of dealing with it to enable them to survive.

In fact, if the temperatures reach around freezing then a guinea pig can seize up under these circumstances.

They can appear that they have maybe dead if they haven’t covered themselves in hay.

This is especially the case if it gets very cold below 60 degrees Fahrenheit.

If it gets the type of temperature where you wouldn’t need to wear a coat then this is usually a good guide as to whether the weather is too cold for a guinea pig.

So it is important to keep them warm and one way to do this is to give them plenty of hay and bedding to try and keep them warm.

Hay will also enable them to chew and keep their teeth ground down over the winter time.

Do guinea pigs go into hibernation in winter?

So if they have plentiful hay, they can snuggle themselves in it and it appears like they are going into some sort of hibernation.

This is not the case though.

Guinea pigs do not actually go into hibernation like other animals do.

What happens in these circumstances is that their bodies shut down to conserve energy and retain heat.

They may look lifeless but they are still alive.

It can be quite daunting to see a guinea pig like this though.

This happens more so with guinea pigs that are kept on their own.

Keeping guinea pigs together is important in extreme temperatures.

Guinea pigs that are kept together are more likely to snuggle together and keep each other warm from their bodies.

This is very effective for them and is potentially life-saving if they live outside of a human house.

They provide much needed social stimulation for each other and as social creatures, they provide much-needed company.

You can get some other ideas for keeping your guinea pig warm during cold seasons in this post.

What if your guinea pig is not themselves during cold temperatures?

If you see that your guinea pig is not themselves over a prolonged period then it would be worth contacting your local veterinary surgeon to get them checked out.

It is always worth doing this if you have any concerns about them.

If it gets very cold then it is easy for a guinea pig to contract hypothermia and so always keep a close watch on your guinea pig to make sure that they are okay.

A good test is to how they respond to their favorite treat bring put out for them.

If you don’t get the usual reaction then something will probably be wrong and it is time to get them checked out.

preparing my guinea pig for winter

Getting Ready for Guinea Pig Winter Care

So its getting to the end of summer and although its still warm here in the uk my thoughts are turning to the fall and a harsh winter again like we had last year.

It got very very cold here in England and not a good place to have a cavy. I really don’t want to kill it off and want it to get through winter the best way I can make it for them.

This being the first winter of cavy ownership, im investigating the best ways to prepare my guinea pig for a winter in the uk.

From research and talking to experts there are three possible solutions to this.
1. Bringing the cavy inside
2. Keeping it in a shed or outhouse
3. Keeping it outside in an insulated hutch

There seems to be a lot of opinion on what is the best option and so I have broken down the 3 methods of Guinea pig winter care, so they can be considered better.

1. Bringing the cavy inside

  • If you can bring them inside this is the best thing to ensure that they are ok.
  •  Get them a run or guinea proof a room so they can get some exercise every day rather than being kept in their cage.
  •  They can then spend more time with you and your family and feel part of the household.
  •  It will also be beneficial in keeping them warm and away from the elements
  •  If you can’t bring the hutch inside, then you can buy indoor cages that can be kept on a table or sideboard, they do vary in size though and obviously the bigger the cage the better for the guinea pig. But they will give your guinea pig some protection from the cold.

2. Keeping it in a shed or outhouse

  •  If you really can’t bring them inside then a shed or another outbuilding is the next best thing and will give them good protection from the elements.
  • Make sure that they have access to natural light and that they have a pleasant environment to breathe. This means keeping away from dangerous fumes.
  •  They need warm, dry draghtproof accommodation. A bed with cosy shredded paper or straw.
  • They come from south American andes where summer days are warm and nights drop below freezing
  •  Damp is the big killer for guinea pigs
  • Their sleeping quarters need to be dry
  •  Don’t leave them and abandon them over the winter time. They need lots of attention, cuddles and snuggles over this time.
  • Affection is highly apprecitated by piggies.

3. Keeping your guinea pig outside in an insulated hutch

  • Covering up the hutch may kill them as it creates humidity and could end up with difficulty breathing
  •  Insulating a hutch can be done in the following ways.
  •  using a piece of carpet or blanket or cardboard covered by a piece of waterproof tarpaulin can be sufficient.
  •  You can also buy hutch covers from pet stores to cover your hutch. They are great for protecting against the elements but are not so good at heat insulation. So you would need something to insulate underneath.
  •  Make sure you bring them inside on a daily basis if you can so they can get some time with you and your family. Experts say 2 hours a day is what we should be aiming for, but any amount of time you can give them will be appreciated.

Other considerations for Guinea Pig winter care 

  • Its important to keep close to your guinea pig during winter time, so lots of cuddles and snuggles are great for it to feel wanted loved.
  • It will really appreciate being part of the family which is why bringing it inside the home is the much preferred option.
  • Another thing that I will investigate is bedding. You can get igloos or pet shelters from pet stores that your guinea pig can bed down in. this is much the preferred option to sticking a load of hay down and expecting the guinea pig to keep warm in it.
  • When you lay hay down it attracts mites and disease and the guinea pig will often just trample it down. It is better to put hay into a rack of a wire container to stop them from lying in it. This means that they can have good access to the timothy hay when they want it. They can also be washed easily.
  • Get a good stock of food in, including vitamin c pellets, timothy hay, and ensuring they have a good supply of water to keep them well hydrated.

If you are looking for further reading on the subject then the good people of Cavy heaven have produced a good pdf on the subject which is well worth a look.

Over to you
How have you found keeping piggies over winter time? Is there anything that I’ve missed that could be useful?

Would be great to hear from you in the comments.

Guinea Pigs and Cold Weather

With August drawing to a close, I’m starting to think about the coming fall and winter time drawing in.

This brings new challenges as the owner of a guinea pig.

One of my concerns is how guinea pigs feel the cold.

Its good to be aware of this so I know when to bring my guinea pig inside as the hutch is currently sitting out in the garden.

Do guinea pigs feel the cold?

guinea pigs and cold weatherDue to its compact, body guinea pigs can tolerate the cold more than we think they can.

It can certainly tolerate the cold more than the heat.

It has a normal body temperature of 38-40 degrees Celsius and so has a very similar air temperature to humans which is between 18-24 degrees Celsius. This means that they feel the cold in a similar way to what we as humans do.

top image flickr mike scott

above image: flickr darren johnson

One thing they do not like is if they are exposed to drafts or wind and do not respond well to any kind of conditions like this.

So as guinea pig’s owners, its important we keep track of the conditions our guinea pig’s are living in. Especially if they are kept outside.

Here’s an interesting quote I found on the subject at this site

“Sutherland and Festing (1987) recommend the following conditions: Temperature 18-22C, 8-20 air changes/h, relative humidity 45-70%, 12-16h light/day cycle. Group- housed guinea pigs provided with bedding withstand colder conditions, but neonates have reduced survival at temperatures below 17C. Temperatures over 30C are not tolerated well, particularly by pregnant sows.” (The Institute of Medical and Veterinary Science Australia).

Guinea pigs and cold weather don’t go well together.

Because they have a similar feel of the climate to us, a good guide to how they are feeling with the climate is how you are feeling. If you are too cold to be outside, then your guinea pig is probably too cold.

If you are fine being outside without a jacket, then its a good sign that your guinea pig is fine being outside as well.

When should I bring my guinea pig inside the home?

At the moment we are in the heart of summer time here in the United Kingdom.

The weather is pretty good and I haven’t worn a coat in 4 months.

I feel pretty comfortable about leaving my guinea pig outside as I like being outside and we are averaging temperatures above 23 degrees Celsius.

When it starts to get colder, I will start to think about moving my guinea pig inside and into the warm.

Some owners feel that outbuildings are sufficient for a guinea pig in winter with some extra insulation being put on the hutch to help keep out the cold. Others disagree, and recommend bringing the guinea pigs inside the home.

I guess it depends on how severe your winter’s are and how insulated your outhouses are. Some owners always keep their guinea pig in outbuildings and have got on fine with this situation.

One thing that does need to be considered is when they are outside, that they really shouldn’t be in temperatures below 10 degrees Celsius even if they have bedding and other warm paper or cloth around them.

If the temperature falls below that marker, then its time to bring them inside, either inside your home or an outbuilding.

This is why its good to keep an eye on the weather temperature to make sure a guinea pig isn’t suffering in silence!

guinea pigs water

A Guide to Ensuring Your Guinea Pig Never Goes Thirsty

Having a thirsty guinea pig is never a good thing!

If you want your guinea pig to be healthy and lively then a good supply of water is vital to ensure that they live a long life and you don’t end up killing it off earlier than their natural life intended.

Although guinea pigs get water from the foods they eat in their diet, they still need to be provided with water to ensure they get what they need to quench their thirst and to ensure that they don’t starve.

The usual way to ensure that your guinea pig gets the water they need is to use a water bottle which can be bought from any pet store and attach it to the cage.

Glass water bottles vs plastic water bottles

There are different types of water bottle for guinea pigs;

  • glass bottles
  • plastic bottles

Glass bottles tend to be much easier to clean than plastic bottles.

Another good thing to purchase is a bottle brush so as to clean the inside of the bottle.

Can guinea pigs drink from a bowl?

You can also use a water bowl that can be placed in the cage that the guinea pig can take water from.

There is nothing wrong with doing this although there is a danger that the guinea pig may poo or pee into the water which is why a water bottle is the more preferable way of giving water to your guinea pig.

Which ever method you use, make sure that you refresh the water supply to your guinea pig on a daily basis.

How much water should I feed my guinea pig?

It is never a good idea to limit they amount of water your guinea pig drinks as they do need water to survive. Give them as much as they need.

However, do keep an eye on how much you are feeding your guinea pig.

 What if my guinea pig is not drinking water?

If you are concerned about how much water your guinea pig is drinking then do keep a record of how much you are giving your guinea pig on a daily basis and if necessary consult your veterinarian.

Supplement their diet with foods that are high in water value such as grass, cucumber and lettuce. This will give their water intake a boost.

Another thing to look at is whether you have a leaking water bottle as well.

What types of water can I give my guinea pig?

Normal tap water is sufficient to be used for guinea pigs. Do not attempt to use any other types of flavoured water or sugar water as this wont be appreciated by the guinea pig and may harm them.

How often should I clean my water bottle?

Try and clean the water bottle at least every two or three days, using your bottle brush and some vinegar clean out the bottle before rinsing well with water.

Once you are happy that it has been rinsed well, fill the bottle up again with fresh water and put the cap on before placing it back on the cage.

In order to protect the bottle from algae, then a protective cover will help prevent the sun’s rays getting to the water bottle.

Maintaining water supply during winter

Another consideration to make is that if you keep your guinea pig outside during winter time, then make sure that you keep the water bottle insulated as well.

You can purchase water bottle covers that keep a guinea pig’s water bottle well insulated so that it doesn’t freeze up during winter. A frozen water bottle is a sure way of killing off a cavy, so its a good investment.

image: flickr