Ideal Temperatures for Guinea Pigs in Winter and Summer
As an owner, one factor that can slip your mind when attending to your cavy is the current state of the weather and temperature. It is very important to always be aware of the temperature in a guinea pig’s location at any given time, as well as have the foresight to predict weather changes that will necessitate a change in its living quarters.
Guinea pigs being not very temperature tolerant pets, areas that have variable weather patterns are the places that will be more challenging to adapt to. This means having to modify the air temperature in a guinea pig’s location depending on the season, inclement weather or a sudden heat wave/cold snap.
Challenging doesn’t mean impossible though, and when the right preparatory steps are taken and safeguards are put into place, providing the ideal temperature for your guinea pig can be a breeze.
Potential Health Issues Arising Due to Incorrect Temperatures
Guinea pigs are very sensitive to changes in temperature. The ideal body temperature for guinea pigs, regardless of the season, needs to be around 37 – 39.5°C. To facilitate the maintenance of their core body temperature, the air in the guinea pig’s location should be kept at a range of 17 – 20°C.
In cities and rural areas where the temperature stays within a certain range all year long, it is much easier to create a more consistent living environment.
If not rectified immediately, a guinea pig exposed to either high or low-temperature extremes can become severely ill and face permanent disability or death.
A guinea pig can get chilly if the air temperature drops to below 15°C, and anything over 26°C can cause a heat stroke. Hypothermia can set in or it might catch pneumonia.
Excessive amounts of direct sunlight can cause a cavy to overheat. Heat exhaustion will lead to a heat stroke which can cause dehydration, seizures, coma, and eventually death if untreated.
It, therefore, becomes an absolute necessity to ensure nominal temperature levels in and around a guinea pig’s habitat at all times. Many owners have asked the question: “can guinea pigs live outside”?
Cavies may be housed in cages located indoors or hutches located outdoors so the methods to maintaining the required temperature for any given season will vary.
Tips for Keeping Your Guinea Pigs Warm
Many owners prefer to keep their guinea pigs inside the house where they can be closer to people and have a better vantage point to observe on-going activities. Others keep their guinea pigs outside the house in specially-made shelters.
Both locations have their advantages. In either case, here are some tips to help you maintain your guinea pig’s body temperature in areas with frigid winters and scorching summers.
- Whether indoors or outdoors, the area where a guinea pig is housed should have a thermostat nearby. This will enable you to monitor the air temperature at a moment’s notice and make any necessary changes.
- Cages/hutches should always be raised off the ground unless they are well-insulated. In outdoor shelters, this will also prevent rainwater from seeping inside. You can use hollow blocks, bricks or pieces of wood to accomplish this goal.
Maintaining Temperature During Summer Seasons
In the summer, an indoor cavy’s cage should be placed near open windows or other good sources of air flow. Proper ventilation is a necessity. Its room should be cool and shady without any sources of direct sunlight.
There should be a minimal number of electronic devices in the room and no primary heat sources such as furnaces and stoves. Centralized air conditioning may be used and adjusted to 17 – 20°C. Electric fans aren’t recommended for use as draughts of air can quickly cause chilling. However, if placed far enough away and set to rotate, they can be useful.
Water bowls and bottles should be replaced or refilled often and small ice cubes can be included to help keep the animal(s) cool. Provide fruits and veggies with high water content like watermelon, strawberries, and cucumbers.
Cavies that are housed outdoors have an advantage during summertime due to having an open area which naturally provides good ventilation, air circulation, and fresh air. A garden area is also a good place to get exercise and have some fun.
You can use tunnels, boxes or guinea pig houses to create additional shaded areas for use during playtime. Place piles of hay in secluded locations to encourage cavies to stick to the shaded areas.
Having an outdoor covered enclosure for your guinea pig will also help you lower your electricity bills as there’ll be no air purifiers and air conditioners running 24/7. Ensure that your pet’s hutch is in a safe and secure location, with no possible entryways for predators.
During moments of extreme humidity, industrial fans placed in strategic locations can greatly cool off herds of guinea pigs. Just be sure to keep their hutches well-shaded. Keep an eye on the temperature. If it’s still over 26°C even after you’ve taken precautions, you might have to move the animal(s) inside the house.
Maintaining Temperature During Winter Seasons
In the winter, indoor cavies will need pretty much the opposite of their summer requirements. As the guinea pig temperature tolerance is quite low, windows should be closed to avoid draughts of cold air and the cage should be placed in a warm and cozy room with plenty of heat sources.
No guinea pig should ever be placed downwind from a stove or range though, no matter the season.
The heater should be running 24/7 to create a comfortable area. Bedding needs to stay dry and replaced right away if it starts getting damp. You can also make it thicker by adding more hay and pieces of paper or wood shavings. Using warm bedding is a great way to trap heat inside the cage.
Having more than one guinea pig together in a cage is extremely useful during the winter as they will generate extra heat and keep each other warm during grooming or other daily activities.
Guinea pigs that are housed outdoors will have a harder time in winter compared to summer. Water bowls can freeze over and snowfall will make playtime difficult. Insulation on a guinea pig’s hutch and an outdoor enclosure is necessary to prevent the extreme cold from penetrating the interior.
An overabundant amount of hay will give the guinea pig something to snuggle up against. Hay is also a moisture-resistant material which makes it great for insulation.
Damp hay and bedding must be removed immediately and replaced. If there are any puddles or wet areas inside a cavy’s hutch area, make sure they’re cleaned up right away.
Again, keep a watchful eye on the thermostat. If the temperature drops below 15°C, it’s too cold for your guinea pigs and you’ll need to transfer them inside the house to a safer location.