Winter is here. And as much as your guinea pigs look like a warm baked potato who will probably have all the resistance from the cold weather. I mean, they’re shaped like a chunky fur ball for a reason right? But unfortunately, that’s not the case. In fact, guinea pigs are so sensitive to cold. So in this article, I’m going to tell you how to keep Guinea pigs warm in winter and what to do if your Guinea pig is cold.
There are a lot of ways to keep your Guinea pigs warm in winter and tips to prepare for the cold weather both outdoors and indoors. Without further ado, let’s get started.
Do Guinea pigs like cold weather?
Guinea pigs can tolerate cold temperatures better than hot weather. Their ideal temperature for them to be comfortable should be 15 – 21 Celsius or 60 – 70 Fahrenheit.
How cold is too cold for Guinea pigs?
Anything below 15 Celsius or 60 Fahrenheit is too cold for Guinea pigs. Even though they have fur, this temperature is too chilly for your potatoes.
It’s important to constantly monitor the temperature of your Guinea pig’s habitats and make changes to their environment in order to help them adapt and be comfortable.
How to keep Guinea pigs warm in the winter
Now that we’re all on the same page on when we need to take action to keep guinea pigs warm, here are some tips to keep your furry friend cozy in cold, humid areas both indoors and outdoors
Move their cage away from the cold
Just like keeping your guinea pigs cool in the summer by moving their cage away from the sunlight and heat, we’re doing the same and opposite thing. Moving your piggy’s cage far from the cold is one of the key ways to keep them warm.
If your guinea pigs are living outside, consider moving them indoors.
Give them cozy hideouts.
Imagine you were to choose between a thick, cozy blanket in a soft bed to sleep in during the winter, or a towel on the hard floor. I think you will most likely choose the first option, right?
Moreover, giving your Guinea pigs lots of hiding space will provide them even more places to keep warm.
Add more warm bedding
Bedding is very important, and depending on what kind of bedding you are using, like puppy pads or a thin towel, you might need to change the bedding.
A thick layer of paper bedding or shredded paper will keep guinea pigs warm. Adding more layers of newspaper will keep the foundation of their cage at a higher temperature too.
Another option is using winter fleece liners. Most Fleece liner manufacturers for small mammals have both regular fleece and winter fleece. Winter fleece is usually thicker and has more layers.
Pile up more hay and pellets
During the winter, Guinea pigs like to snuggle up the fresh hay to munch on. But it’s not just because hay can act as a bedding for them. Your Guinea pigs will need more energy and calories for the winter to keep them warm.
And that’s also why feeding your potatoes the right pellets will provide them with more protein and energy for cold weather.
Leave the Vegetables on your countertop
Sure, this tip might not have as much impact on keeping your piggies warm, but when you take your vegetables out of the fridge, it’s cold. By leaving it at room temperature for about 5 minutes, you are letting the cold veggies’ temperature regulate a bit. That way when your guinea pigs eat it, it won’t be as cold.
Think of eating room-temperature strawberries rather than frozen strawberries after a cold, snowy day.
Make sure it has a buddy to snuggle with
Guinea pigs like to cuddle with each other to show affection and to keep each other warm with their own body temperature on cold days.
If you don’t already have more than one guinea pig, I recommend reading this article on whether should you have a single guinea pig and the impacts it presents (coming from a piggy parent whose guinea pig was single before).
Another less effective but still worth mentioning is placing a pet-safe cushion or “stuffy” for your guinea pig to snuggle on.
Use cardboard to insulate
From DIY treat balls to homemade hideouts, cardboard can do so many things for guinea pigs. Corrugated cardboard traps air in the flutes and, as a result, provides good insulation from freezing window and door gaps as well as the ground.
In case you don’t know what insulate means, here’s a quick definition from Oxford Dictionary:
“protect (something) by interposing material that prevents the loss of heat or the intrusion of sound.”Oxbow Dictionary
I like to slip large pieces of safe, clean cardboard between my guinea pigs’ cage and the window to keep the chilly wind out. It’s an easy and affordable insulation material that is surprisingly effective.
Check on them frequently
Sometimes you don’t know how cold or hot a place actually is until you are in that place. That’s why Checking in on your Guinea pigs frequently is so important.
When you drop by, take a look at how their water bottles are, if there is enough hay, gaps where wind can peel through, the humidity, etc.
But most importantly, your Guinea pigs’ behaviour.
Are they active? Do they look cold? How are they eating?
Monitor them and remember to take the necessary actions when needed.
Use water bottle covers
Water bottle covers are like the Guinea pig version of a thermos, but instead of keeping the water warm, they prevent your piggy’s water from being frozen. And yes, it happens. This is especially important for guinea pigs who live outdoors.
You can buy regular water bottle covers for Guinea pigs but make sure it’s in the right size. Another option is to use water bottle covers that are made for your Guinea pig’s water bottle.
And because it’s hard to find those, there’s another option: bubble wrap.
Bubble wrap is a cheap way to substitute as a water bottle cover for your potatoes. Just make sure you’re using a clean one and wrap it around your piggies’ water bottles.
How to keep guinea pigs warm outside
Now that we’ve gone through some things you can do to keep your guinea pigs warm both indoors and outdoors, let’s move on to outdoors only.
Keeping guinea pigs outdoors is harder, especially when it comes to keeping your guinea pigs comfortable in harsh weather. Here are some things you can do to keep guinea pigs warm and toasty in their hutch if you really can’t bring them inside (which is highly recommended when it’s cold).
Move the hutch to a sheltered area
Moving your guinea pigs’ hutch to a covered or sheltered area like a shed to protect from the wind and cold, rain, snow or sleet. During the winter, mother nature can be very dangerous to your furry friends. The rain and humidity also pose a threat to your guinea pigs as well.
Keep their hutch as dry as possible and cover them from any water and cold at all costs. So please cover the hutches with blankets or hutch cover, especially around the doors and windows
Don’t let them out to the grass yet
When it rains, the grass is cold and damp. You don’t want that, because dampness can cause some very serious health problems in your guinea pig.
Moreover, since the grass is very close to the ground, the temperature down there is much lower than the temperature higher in the air, which makes it more chilly.
That doesn’t mean your guinea pig shouldn’t be exercising though, they still need plenty of time and space to run around to stay healthy and active. Personally, I like to make DIY snuffle mats created from old clothes for the piggies to play.
How to keep Guinea pigs warm indoors and at night
Now let me show you some ways to keep your Guinea pigs warm indoors and at night. Yes, there’s still more!
Put multiple thermometers in the room
As we hopefully all know, the temperature indoors and outdoors that the weather forecast says is different. In fact, every room has a slightly different temperature as well.
Therefore, placing multiple thermometers can let you check if it’s too cold or hot in your Guinea pig’s habitat. I put one in my living room and one in my Guinea pigs’ room.
This is especially important if your Guinea pigs are housed in a large room or space.
Make a digging box
Dig boxes, or burrow boxes are boxes with different like shredded or paper, commercial paper bedding, hay, safe leaves, and more. You hide treats inside for your pet to find and well, dig. They allow your Guinea pig’s natural instinct to make burrows.
These dig boxes are also a great way to keep Guinea pigs warm because of the thick layers of bedding.
Not only they. burrow boxes are incredibly easy and cheap to make. Here’s a short video on how I made mine – it’s less than one minute.
Use safe heaters to keep guinea pigs warm
One of the best ways to warm up the house and your piggies in cold weather. However, it’s important to keep the precautions in mind at all times, like being careful not to place the heater near flammable materials or too close to your Guinea pigs’ cage.
If your house doesn’t have a built-in heater, you can purchase one like I did. It’s best to choose ones that will automatically turn off at a certain temperature when it’s warm enough.
Use a Dehumidifier
As I said earlier, humidity can cause illness in Guinea pigs. That’s why using a dehumidifier to reduce the humidity levels in winter can make a big difference. And if that still doesn’t convince you to use one for your pet, a dehumidifier can also help Eliminate pet odours!
I recommend these dehumidifiers, but honestly, any will do – we just need to keep the place dry.
Are heating pads safe for guinea pigs?
The short answer is yes, heating pads are mostly safe for guinea pigs to use. However, make sure the heating pad is made specifically for small mammals, like this one.
That’s because normal heating pads are made from different materials that are usually not safe for your piggies, and the size is not suitable for them either. Moreover, heating pads for humans are almost always too hot for your guinea pigs.
Keep in mind that even using pet-safe heating pads can have their dangers, so make sure you read the instructions carefully. But otherwise, some heating pads are a great way to keep guinea pigs warm.
Are heat lamps safe for Guinea pigs?
Although there are heat lamps that are safe for small mammals to use, In general, heat lamps are not safe for Guinea pigs because they are usually too hot for them.
Heat lamps are also made mostly for reptiles and they are very different from Guinea pigs.
Do Guinea pigs hibernate when they get too cold?
No, Guinea pigs don’t hibernate in the winter. However, they tend to sleep more when they are cold.
If that happens, make sure to do the tips to keep Guinea pigs warm.
Conclusion – how to keep guinea pigs warm in winter
So these are the 27 tips to keep guinea pigs warm, from using dehumidifiers to leaving vegetables on the countertop 5 minutes before feeding. If you found this article helpful, consider signing up for this website’s free Guinea Pig newsletter filled with valuable resources, tips and videos like this one.
Also, please let me know in the comments if you have any more tips 🙂