Particular issues to be aware of in Winter are:

  • The obvious one is cold. Those most at risk are the old and very young (pups, particularly). Sick guineas may already be dealing with temperature issues, having to use energy to keep warm will not help their issue.

To guard against this bring guinea pigs into a shed or outbulding (or inside the house providing it is permanent for the winter). Temperature wise this means when it falls below 10C/50F, but realisticly they need to be indoors before this because of the damp. September, though warm still, is usually damp and a good time to bring them in. A heated shed is best though it is very important to keep it well ventilated and without draughts! An oil filled radiator is good for heating sheds.

  • Be aware that it is the drop and change in temperature that does the most damage to a guinea pig’s health. This is also true of guinea pigs living indoors. If/when the heating goes off (as most central does) the temperature will drop. Use a Maximum/Minimum thermometer to measure and monitor the change. Indoor guinea pigs can get respiratory problems caused by this too.
  • Ensure that bedding is dry, wet bedding is cold and uncomfortable, if it is cold enough it will freeze. Where sheds are not heated Snugglesafe Heatpads can be used as a source of warmth. Allow circulation of air to discourage fungal build up.
  • A useful gadget to have in your shed/guinea pig room is a maximum/minimum thermometer. These will show how cold the temperature drops to overnight and if heating etc is needed.
  • Few wooden hutches are rain proof, and very few are windproof. All wood will eventually absorb water and may remain damp to some degree if kept outside. Housing guinea pigs inside is more pleasant for the Humans and comfortable for the guinea pigs.
  • A reputable rescue will not keep guinea pigs outside in the cold and damp, many heat their sheds. If you find yourself looking to adopt in the winter months it could be important that you meet these requirements.
  • Insulating hutches will only keep in the heat that is already there, it will NOT heat up the hutch/environment. As always it is important to control the temperature of the environment to ensure the living area is warm. A cold hutch stuffed with hay will still be cold…
  • If insulation on water bottles are needed then the environment is far too cold!
  • If you are going away over Christmas ensure your guinea pigs are booked into their holiday accomodation early. Recommended boarding establishments will be booked up in advance.