Winter is coming. Some guinea pigs and rabbits live outside. As long as they are healthy and as they are used to it they will do just fine. But some extra measures can be very helpful to be sure that they will stay healthy during this cold period too:
1. Dry and sheltered
Very important: a shelter where your animals can warm themselves. This does not have to be a heated shelter. What do you need?
- A shelter that stands a little from the ground. This prevents that the cold cannot come up from the ground.
- Make sure the entrance is small. This prevents that too much cold air flows in.
- A not too big shelter preserves the body heat of the animals easier than a large one.
- Make sure the shelter is in a sheltered place. You can use blankets when a very cold wind or snow is coming in.
- Isolate the shelter. Not possible? Just put an extra small shelter in the shelter.
- A thick layer of warm bedding, such as coarse wood shavings or barley straw (this is softer than wheat straw), or of course an extra thick layer of hay.
2. A conspecific
A conspecific is comfy to cuddle with. This keeps the animals warm too. This is called huddling.
Stimulate your animals to eat well. This provides extra energy and by digesting food extra heat comes free too. Animals that live outside in winter are allowed to eat products that contain more energy, such as enJOY Muesli, pea flakes or fruit. Make sure that your animals keep on eating hay well or provide extra tasty hay, such as herb hay. And extra veggies won’t harm too 😉
That water bottle or water bowl freezes quickly. Check and refresh it multiple times a day to give enough opportunities to drink. You can also provide extra veggies. They contain lots of water too and lower the urge to drink. Provide it in small quantities to prevent it is not eaten (and freezes too).
A good health is everything!
A healthy animal that is used to living outside and won’t have any problems with cold periods. But when your pet is not in optimal health or even sick it is incredibly important to keep him warm. A sick animal is not capable of keeping himself warm and will die from cold.
Do you not feel comfortable keeping your animals outside in cold periods or are you in doubt? Do NOT put them in your living room (unless they are very sick). First, it can be very stressful for them when they are used to living outside in a calm environment. They will also have trouble with the difference in temperature. It is better to give them a temporary place in a shed or garage with a higher temperature than outside but lower than in-home. Guinea pigs and rabbis do better in cold than in warmer periods. Probably they even like it better.
A shelter that is lifted from the ground with a small entrance and a nice thick layer of bedding. The shelter was double-walled with some tempex in between. Make sure that all animals are allowed to go inside too.