Whether your guinea pigs live inside or outside its still important to know how to keep guinea pigs cool in summer. Guinea pigs are very sensitive to both hot and cold temperatures and ideally like temperatures of between 18 – 23 degrees. An overheated guinea pig can suffer from heatstroke which can be potentially fatal.
Did you know guinea pigs have no sweat glands? this makes them unable to sweat and keep themselves cool.
Outside guinea pigs
Guinea pigs living outside can overheat quickly due to living in wooden hutches or being tucked away inside sheds. The first step is to move your guinea pigs hutch into the shade or underneath a parasol.
Keeping their wooden hutches cool is the first priority, and can be successfully achieved by soaked an old towel in cold water, wringing it out completely and then placing this over the top of the hutch. Ensure the towel isn’t dripping well as it can make your guinea pig unwell.
We discovered that if you place marble tiles or slates into the hutch they keep there cool as long as they aren’t placed int the sun. This gives your guinea pigs something to lie next to when they feel they need to cool down. Ensure the tiles or slates are never in sunlight as they hold the heat and can seriously injure your guinea pig!
Friends of ours who have twenty guinea pigs living in their garden have been known to dig man-made “burrows” inside their guinea pig run so that their guinea pigs can seek shelter inside! Feel free to dig your own or purchase some guinea pig shelters.
Avoid any shelters made of plastic as they absorb the suns rays and become far too hot. Natural and hay-based shelters are excellent for guinea pigs in hot weather. They provide shelter along with something for them to do without moving around too much.
Inside Guinea pigs
Keeping inside guinea pigs cool follows the same principals as outside guinea pigs mainly. Ensure the room they are in is cool and out of direct sunlight. If there is a cooler room available then move their cage and make sure that you allow the cooler evening air to circulate around the room each night.
Draw any curtains or blinds to ensure that the sun doesn’t creep in throughout the ay espcially if you are away from home. Guinea pigs should be kept out of direct sunlight. Ensure they have plenty of hideouts to go into to keep cool.
Partially covering the cage with a light blanket that has been soaked in ice-cold water and fully wrung out is also a good option. This brings the overall temperature of the cage down and provides some cool shelter. Avoid placing the cover over the food bowel as it can make the pellets spoil quickly.
Controlling the temperature
Fans are a great way to keep your guinea pigs cool. But there are a few things to remember before you rush off to blast lots of cool air at your beloved guinea pigs!
The fan shouldn’t be pointing directly at the guinea pigs as having air constantly blown at them will stress them out. Instead, we prefer to set an oscillating fan in the room a good distance away. We ensure the airflow can be felt in just one part of the cage and also provide a comfy shelter in there for them. Use a chair to prop up the fan so it isn’t just hitting the floor.
Bottles of water that have been in the freezer are great additions to the cage. Once out the freezer simply wrap a large towel around them and place inside the cage or hutch. Your guinea pig can then lie down next to it and cool off when needed. Be sure to check on the water bottle though as they can thaw out rather quickly on a hot sunny day.
Another great cage cooler is specially made cool packs. these pop into the freezer and go straight into the cage. We normally lie a comfy blanket on top of them for some extra softness. Our guinea pig Chocolate overheats so quickly being a long-haired piggie and she would be lost without these in her cage over summer.
Plenty of cool water
Guinea pigs drink the most water out of all rodents! They should always have plenty of fresh, cool water available but its especially important when it’s hot out. We like to keep a spare water bottle in the fridge so we can swap them out every few hours. This ensures they always have fresh and cool water. Watch out for the metal spout becoming too hot as well.
We also make sure there is more than one water source available. We only have two guinea pigs but our short hair Orange is rather a water hogg so we also place a water bowl out for Chocolate guinea pig to have some!
Did you know that guinea pigs won’t drink warm water even if their life depends on it? This shows how important it is to check on your guinea pigs in summer and ensure you change the water every three hours.
Give them a fur cut
Long-haired guinea pigs should have regular fur cuts to ensure their coat stays clean and free from any debris they might have picked up. It’s espcially important to keep long-haired guinea pigs fur-trimmed during the summer months as it will help to keep them cool.
Less fur means less heat can get trapped under it so a fur cut is essential. We find its easiest to trim the fir when it’s wet and has been brushed through.
If your guinea pig is new to having its fur-trimmed then remember to take it slow and give them lots of treats. We prefer these scissors and usually trim the fur starting at the bottom as this is the most important fur to trim due to it being so close to the ground.
We have a really easy to follow along guide to grooming which will help.
Signs your guinea pig has heatstroke
Guinea pigs should be checked on frequently during the hot summer months. This also makes it easier for you to stop if anything is different or wrong with your guinea pigs. Ensure you read our guinea about guinea pig behaviour so you can identify quickly when something is wrong.
Knowing the signs of heat stroke and what to do if it happens can save your guinea pigs life!
- Signs of heatstroke
- lethargy – lying on its side without moving
- restlessness – unable to stop and rest
If you think your guinea pig is suffering from heatstroke then you need to wrap your guinea pigs body in a cool towel ensuring you keep its head uncovered, give them plenty to drink but don’t force it. Putting their little feet in some cool water also helps.
You must immediately contact your vet if you think your guinea pig is suffering from heatstroke!
Keep them Cool as a cucumber!
Keeping guinea pigs cool in summer is a breeze when you follow our tips above. Guinea pigs love to experience all parts of life and its extra special when you see your furry friend cooling down next to an ice-cold cage cooler!
We would love to hear how your guinea pigs keep cool over summer! Comment below to let us know.