Previous Entry Share Next Entry
Hot Weather & Guinea Pigs
spider hole
thalestral wrote in guinea_pigs
Now that the weather is hotting up for those of us in the Northern Hemisphere I thought it was time to post a timely reminder about hot weather and guinea pigs in light of the tragic news on Guinea Lynx of two poor piggies passing away from heat stroke because they were hiding in their pigloos. While these piggies were travelling in a car at the time, the air conditioning was on, and it's very important to remember that guinea pigs are often not capable of making the smart decision to move out of an area where it is too hot for their health.

The problem with pigloos is that they are made of plastic with only one entrance, they are not breathable and the ventilation is very poor. The heat gets trapped inside along with the heat the guinea pig is emitting herself. While this very system helps keep the piggie warm in cold weather, the effects in summer can take a heavy toll on the piggies health. Heat stroke can strike extremely quickly and is an incredibly fast killer. In light of this most recent story I have removed all pigloos from our cage as a precaution. I have left in wooden and cardboard houses as safer options.

Please remember that the room your guinea pigs are in should have a stable temperature range of 65 to 75 degrees F (18 to 24 degrees C). Higher than this and your pig is in danger of heat stroke. Guinea pigs cannot sweat! They have no way of cooling their bodies down themselves like we do. Have you ever seen your guinea pig sprawled out with both back legs sticking out? This is a sign of them being hot. And guinea pigs really prefer NOT to be hot - imagine being so hot and not being able to sweat.

So how do you keep the room cool? Firstly, if you have AC then definitely use that! Windows being opened is also good. But there comes a time when those may not be enough, so hopefully the following tips will help :)

  • Ice packs or frozen water bottles are a life saver - literally. Have several of these in your freezer and put at least two at a time in the piggie cage, wrapped in a light towel or an old sock for their safety. The pigs can then sit as close or as far from these as they like to help keep themselves cool. I have one girl who delights in sitting right on top of them!
  • Make sure to change their water bottles daily or more often! This is important all year round but especially in summer as the water will go stale and yucky faster which discourages the piggies from drinking and can encourage dehydration. Why not keep spare bottles in the fridge and switch them throughout the day.
  • See if you can find the insulating covers for water bottles, these help keep the water cooler for longer.
  • Marble tiles are fantastic for putting down in the cage (often sold as a Chin-Chiller). They stay cool no matter what and the pigs love to lay down on them to cool off. Other flat stones can also have the same effect, so have a good look around for something that stays cool that your pigs will enjoy.
  • Keep the cage out of direct sunlight! It sounds obvious but it's one of the easiest ways of keeping the heat down. Draw blinds or curtains, move the cage, put a shade up, anything to keep the sun out of the cage. Even an insect net over the windows makes a huge difference!
  • Provide lots of shady spots. Pigloos are out but cardboard boxes with lots of doors, wooden houses turned away from the light, hammocks they can hide under, shades put up outside the cage are all in. A light sheet over the end of a pen can also help.
  • Fans - you can use a fan to circulate the air in the room but it is important not to direct the breeze directly on to the cage as guinea pigs are very susceptible to upper respiratory infections, the number one cause of which are drafts. Having a fan at the other end of the room to circulate the air is a safe way of keeping the room cool. You can also put a frozen water bottle in front of the fan to encourage the circulation of cooler air.
With higher temperatures come increased bug problems! Mesh insect nets over the windows are a great way of keeping the bugs at bay, and are light enough to not reduce sunlight, but do help keep the room cool as well. You can also use a natural spray such as Buzz Off by Gorgeous Guineas - NOT for spraying on piggies! This can be put around window edges and so on to deter bugs.

I would also encourage everyone to buy a little digital room thermometer for their piggie room. My partner and I got one and were shocked at how often we had previously let the room get too cold or too hot. Humans have a much wider range of comfortable temperatures so it's harder for us to fine tune ourselves to that 65-75 range the piggies need. A thermometer is a great way of keeping on top of things and gives great peace of mind :)

I hope this has been somewhat helpful!

www.guineapigcages.com/location.htm

Thank you so much for this. Laura, Diane and MaMa thank you, too. :)

You're welcome! Your icon made me squee with the cute :)

Thank you for this! I'll look into buying wooden houses for my piggies.

You're welcome :D The best bit about wooden houses is they usually come in cardboard boxes that are the perfect size to make into houses too!

Good info! It makes me glad that where I keep my piggies is very controlled though. I stopped using wooden houses for now because the cost of replacing them often enough to keep them from being gross (urine sets in after a while, and washing doesn't get it all out) is too much for me. Pigloos were a good washable alternative.

The other advantage to wooden huts though is the pigs love to chew on them to keep their teeth healthy.

I've found that using a vinegar/water solution is best for the wooden houses, especially if you leave them to sit in the solution so that the bottom couple of inches are really well soaked. Before we switched to vinegar it was a stinky nightmare >__>

Cardboard houses are awesome as you can put as many doors or windows in as you like and the piggies can go to town redesigning it themselves (my girls have a tendency to eat two walls and then act all indignant when it keeps falling over!).

Good idea, I'll ask kikayume about that :D

I need to try that marble tile idea - it's a good one!

I have chinchillas and I use marble tiles to cool them off. It works really well!!

I definitely need to find one myself this year, I've used a slate type one so far but I think the girls would really like something as extra smooth as marble.

On the hottest days I'd fancy it myself actually!

Hey Thanks! I thought that was all good advice and very informative! :)

You're welcome, I'm glad it was helpful :D

Thanks for this post! My father actually had central air installed in the house not because of us, but because of the guinea pigs! *laughs*

Aww, now that is too cute! True devotion to the piggie cause :D

It definitely is! He was all, "Well, WE can get showers and change clothes and go to air-conditioned places, but THEY have to wear these fur coats and stay in one place and they're getting up there in years and probably can't tolerate the heat very well" and so forth. XD He has a real soft spot for animals, so when we finally got central air, it was really out of concern for the piggies (we had seven of them at the time). :D

Edited at 2008-05-17 01:44 pm (UTC)

Haha, that is really too sweet :D My parents went so far as to stop visiting us because of the pigs, they think I'm being "crazy" for keeping them indoors *sighs* My boyfriends folks are always visiting for piggie cuddles though!

thank you for this post! it's been super hot (well for us anyways) in SF, and my s/o and i were discussing just this morning if our little talyn was enjoying the heat or too warm. he gets more animated when it starts to heat up, but yesterday when it was 90+ he was staying in his wood house (i'm antiplastic in general so no pigloos for us). guess he was too hot.

You are welcome :D My partner and I used to try and guess all the time so having the thermometer has made it one less thing to have to worry about!

Is that Talyn in your icon? He reminds me of my Frisky :)

yup, that's Talyn. aw, they do look alike!

Thank you! This is my pigs' first summer, so this is very helpful advice!

You're welcome! I'm glad people are finding it helpful :D

Yay for living in Florida where air conditioning is a MUST! I've never met anyone here without air conditioning! The downside though, is that it's too hot to go outside, and all of the critters and prickily plants that thrive here preventing us from letting our piggies out on the lawn.

I'm really envious of those with AC, hee. Here in the UK it's really rare to have it but with summers getting more and more hot I really hope they start building more houses with it already installed!

Yeah, I wouldn't know--the closest I get to the UK is by way of Samuel Richardson, Jane Austen, Elizabeth Inchbald, etc. and even then I'm sure the weather was different. Good luck beating the heat!

"And guinea pigs really prefer NOT to be hot!"

and i'm right there with them. I freeze the rest of my family; my AC stays on 74 most of the time, and if i turn it up during the day when no one is home, i turn it up to about 76 and leave ceiling fans on. i hate walking into a hot house from the hot outdoors.

I do think I am going to put up a tent in one corner of the cage, though.

I'm curious though. If they can't take the heat very well, would it be a bad idea to take them outside to play during the summer, when it gets up to 95-100 with high humidity? How much time should they have outside when it's like that?

And do guinea pigs like water? I've seen several different opinions. To play in, I mean, like a little kiddie pool with about an inch of water in it.

Hah, me too - I like the heat outside but never inside, it makes me grumpy x)

When it's really hot you do need to be careful about not having them outside as long. Make sure they are in the shade and if you can, use a thermometer to see what the temperature in the shade actually is. I'd also stick to taking them out in the evening rather than when the sun is high - just in case. A good rule of thumb is that if you are in a t-shirt and are feeling hot, it's too hot for the pigs :)

Very rarely you get pigs that like water but most aren't interested. I think it would be fine to try if you had the circumstances where the pig had the choice, like she could choose to walk into a watery area or stay dry, but if the pig is lifted into water then it can cause panic (there are videos on youtube I think of guinea pigs "swimming" when in actual fact they are terrified and trying to find a way out ;__;). But if the humidity is high it might not be a good idea either as it can take them too long to dry and that can cause fungal infections which are nasty things indeed.

thanks for this heads up! I had no idea... and while my house stays about 15 degrees cooler than the outdoors (yay for big trees!) it's still not cool...

:)

I know moo will thank you!!

About the shade thing, keep in mind that the shade does move as the sun moves across the sky so make sure to know which areas are shaded at all times or to frequently check your piggers to make sure they're still in the shade.

Ooh! Good advice! :-)
Thanks.

Ugh, I am so horrible. My Piggies have been hiding out in their cardboard tubes and doing that legs all out thing :(
I will definitely do the ice bottle trick, thanks for the tips!

Also, do you think I should cut my Peruvians hair for the summer?

As long as the temperature in the room is kept down you don't really need to trim long haired piggies, but some piggies do find it more comfortable. Purdie doesn't really like her hair long ever so we always give her a buzz cut which she loves!

If you're worried about keeping your Peruvian cool you could always give a little trim to begin with and see if the piggie prefers that :)

You are viewing guinea_pigs