Keeping Small Animals Safe in the Cold
By: Sawyer Cecena
Earlier this year, I wrote an article about keeping small animals safe in hot weather. With the winter months now upon us, I figured it was as good of a time as any for a counter-article on what to do when things get chilly. As an avid guinea pig lover myself, I’ve always considered it extremely important that the owners of piggies and other pocket pets understand what to do to ensure their comfort in extreme weather. After all, many of us go to great lengths to keep our cats and dogs safe with weather changes – we can’t forget about the little guys too! So if you or someone you know is a fan of all things small and furry, keep reading for some tips on keeping guinea pigs, rabbits, and hamsters nice and cozy in the cold.
These little guys are extremely sensitive to changes in temperature. A 5-10 degrees drop may not seem that drastic for us humans. But for guinea pigs, that small drop could lead to a whole lot of trouble! Indoors is the best place for your piggies any time of the year, but especially so when experiencing chillier weather. It’s important to house them away from windows and drafts, and to keep cages and hutches elevated from the ground when possible.
Whether you use fleece, shavings, or paper bedding now is the time to double up on it all and to make sure it’s cleaned out regularly to prevent them laying in cold, damp spaces. Providing your piggies with extra hay, small blankets, towels, and even old socks can be some simple ways to ensure they’ve got additional opportunities to bundle up and keep themselves warm.
Luckily for rabbit owners, they are much better equipped to handle cold weather than other cavy counterparts. Many domestic bunnies even perk up a bit during the winter months! Still, it’s important to make sure that they and their living spaces don’t become cold enough to risk things like frozen water bottles or moldy hay. Generally, weather that drops under 30 degrees Fahrenheit means that it’s time to move your rabbits inside. Just be sure you don’t crank the heat too high either – remember, they are wearing a fur coat! Similarly to guinea pigs, the best way to keep your rabbit comfy in the cold is to keep their living space as clean and dry as possible.
Hamsters tend to enjoy the heat, which is why it’s extra important to monitor temperatures when you’ve got them around. Depending on breed, a hamster who is too cold may enter an incredibly dangerous period of hibernation and risk complications from dehydration. Anything below 60 degrees Fahrenheit is a warning sign for hamsters. So, even if you’re not in a place with extremely cold seasons it may be too cold for your furry friends. While not all hamsters like to burrow, providing them with extra bedding to do so or hides to snuggle up in is a sure-fire way to keep them nice and warm. As mentioned with guinea pigs, their cages should be kept away from windows and elevated once the weather drops.