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). The hair on a guinea pigs body is no thicker than the hair on a human head and they are very vulnerable in temperatures colder than this range. It is especially important in this kind of weather to make sure that the cage is draught free! The stability of temperature is equally as important as sudden changes in temperature can be physically traumatic. A digital thermometer is the best way of knowing for sure that your piggies are safe and you can monitor the temperature at cage level.
Many people think that guinea pigs are tougher than they are and that the likes of some of us here are quite paranoid owners. While the latter may certainly be true(!), guinea pigs are a purely domesticated animal and have never been a wild animal. They have wild relatives but those are fairly distant in needs and requirements. The guinea pig was never "designed" to live terribly long and as such they didn't need to be terribly hardy or healthy. This is why top care is such a priority for these little critters.
So other than turning the heating up, how can we keep our piggies safe? There are many, many ways.
- Another piggie - piggies keep each other warm! Huddling together is the best heat source, nothing else comes close.
- Heating pads - these are available for small animals. Only use the microwavable ones that come with a cover, and put it under a cuddle cup or wrapped in a fleece or under the bedding just to be safe. Make sure none of the plastic is exposed as these things are very HOT! You get a good few hours heat out of them. Don't use electric blankets underneath bedding as the risk of fire and wires is too great.
- Blankets - a blanket draped over one end of the cage can make a massive difference, and many piggies love this at the best of times! A great way of trapping heat.
- Cardboard boxes covered with towel - make a normal cardboard box hidey house (upside down, cut flaps off and cut two doorways) and then cover with a towel to keep the heat in.
- Cuddle cups and cozy sacks, made of fleece, piggie sized and very warm. Grab a sewing machine and make your own!
- Cosy houses, really great for trapping heat and the pigs love them! Hunt around for these online.
- Layers - place in extra fleece for piggies to burrow under when they choose - use smaller pieces to prevent any panicky trapped piggies!
- Hay piles - cheap hay can be used as play hay for piggies to burrow in and keep warm.
- Heat lamps - be very careful with these, position outside the cage so that it can in no way possibly fall into the cage. Keep at a safe distance and use a lower watt bulb. Monitor the temperature carefully when setting up.
- Thermal blinds - place these behind your windows to help retain heat in your house.
- Close curtains - keep the curtains shut when it gets dark!
I really would 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!
[If there is anything else you would like added please put it in the comments and I'll put it up :) Will add this to the memories.]