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Cold Weather Care For Guinea Pigs

Discussion in 'Housing and Enrichment' started by nutmeg, Aug 31, 2010.

  1. nutmeg

    nutmeg New Member

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    Not sure if this will work. If it does, this is a part copy of the about Winter Care that I used to put in all my adoption packs. I can't take all the credit for this as I think it was a rescue on here that gave me permission to use some of their stuff (Honeybunnies maybe?) But it is a good way to start thinking about cold weather care, it was just 8 degrees here last night, and hopefully lots of you can add your own tips to it. :) xx

    COLD AND WINTER MONTHS FOR PIGGIES
    Imagine you are living in a bedsit, you have everything that you need – food, water and a comfy bed in the corner. The windows are open and in the lovely late summer, a gentle breeze blows through the windows and keeps you cool and comfortable. It’s quite a pleasant place to be but then the autumn arrives and it starts to get cooler, wetter and windier. You can’t get up to shut the windows, you have no extra bedding and life begins to feel a bit miserable. The damp air feels horrible and you spend much of your time on your own. Then winter arrives, it’s getting really, really cold now and still you have no extra bedding or heat source, no extra food. Much of the day is in darkness and you’re lonely. The windows let in howling gales and it’s absolutely freezing, you’re so cold, you simply can’t get warm and wherever you go to cuddle up just feels cold and damp. The draughts are coming in from all directions now, it’s dark and miserable and you’re feeling poorly. Your life is bleak, your future looks bleak too. If only you could shut those windows, if only you had more bedding, if only you could stop those icy draughts coming in, if only someone cared enough about you to do something, soon, very soon, before you become really poorly or worse.
    SO HOW WOULD YOU FEEL IF THAT WAS YOUR LIFE? ....WELL LET’S HOPE IT’S NOT YOUR GUINEA PIGS’.
    In an ideal world all guinea pigs would be looked after in the comfort of an indoor home, but realistically the many spend their lives outside, possibly in a shed/outbuilding/garage (without a car.) As responsible pet owner, everything must be done to provide adequate comfort throughout the cold and winter months.
    Guinea pigs find it difficult to cope with draughts and damp and every effort should be made to put their home into a sheltered enclosed area. By doing this you will be making your life easier too, you won’t want to be cleaning the hutch out, if you are battling with the elements and getting soaked through. Move it nearer to your house. Use your common sense and think about how the weather/air will affect your pets. They are your responsibility and completely dependent on you. You must take action to ensure they are warm, clean and dry. If they are in a flimsy plywood hutch that seemed ok in the summer, this will be totally inadequate now. These must be taken indoors as your guinea pigs will not survive outside in one of these. Consider investing in a better and more suitable, substantial hutch.
    Here in the North West, we have a damp and cold climate, temperatures can often be sub zero. Nothing could be worse for guinea pigs. Hutches should be weatherproof. However, for those of you that simply have no other choice there are some tips for you to consider when thinking about ‘Winter Care’. Be creative, think guinea pig! Beg/borrow off anyone you can, you don’t have to spend a fortune, but you DO have to look after your piggies. Duvets/blankets are great draped over the hutch at night. A blanket permanently over half of the hutch, covering the bedroom area opening door helps keep draughts out. Think about ‘making a bed’ in the hutch bedroom for your piggies – an upside down box with fleece or hay in, that they can sleep under, in the bedroom area and all covered with hay. Just think how you can tuck them up snugly to keep them warm and comfy. So that when you are warm in your bed, they will be warm in their beds too.
    Keeping your piggies dry is also important. Whether you use wood shavings, fleece, hay, newspapers or a combination of some/all of these, they must be regularly changed. Damp is bad for piggies, damp 'and' cold is dreadful.

    Heck, it worked. I surprise myself sometimes. :{ xx
     
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  2. KimberleysWheekers

    KimberleysWheekers New Member

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    Hehe! It did work!

    This is a good document Jane, I had a read through when we got our piggies home on Friday.
     
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  3. flips

    flips Senior Guinea Pig

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    Thanks Jane. That's a great way to start people thinking about the winter weather. I hope lots of people add tips as it's so helpful to have it all together.
    Even though I have indoor piggies I don't have central heating so I'm starting to think about the best way to keep them warm as the temperature indoors can drop considerably and storage heaters can only do so much. Last year they were in a small cage and I stuffed it with hay. Now they're in the the c & c and it's so open, I think I will need to make a big hay box or 3 smaller ones as my girls don't like sharing. They already have some curtains for the back part of the cage but I might make some thicker ones. :(|)
     
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  4. nutmeg

    nutmeg New Member

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    That's a really good point too. Just because pigs are indoors, they can still get cold especially in open cages, c & c's, it can go chilly when the heating goes off overnight. xx
     
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  5. Little Piggles

    Little Piggles Senior Guinea Pig

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    My piggies lived indoors last winter, as Pixel was only a baby and to be honest, I'm dreading the cold weather this year :(

    Their hutch will be moved into our shed for a little added protection and I plan to have a hutch hugger and a hutch snuggle for it, as well as an old carpet covering to keep as much heat in as possible. I also plan to cover the front of the hutch with bubble wrap to try to insulate it as much as possible, but to still allow some light in (as much as we have in wonter anyway rolleyes)

    Although we must remember not to completely seal the front as we need at allow for a limited amount of airflow too ;)

    Roll on summer!
     
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  6. Niki

    Niki Senior Guinea Pig

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    I first thought about this when i'd to bring the pigs in last year. The drop in temp from the heating going off was over 10 degrees.
    Most people tend to think about temperature changes for outdoor pigs but wouldn't the temp drop for indoor pigs be as great/greater especially if the room they are in is heated too?
     
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  7. Caviesgalore (EPGPR)

    Caviesgalore (EPGPR) Forum Buddy

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    Great post Jane, the mornings have certainly been a bit nippy, even in Kent this week!

    For those people without electricity in their sheds who would like to add some form of heat, can anyone suggest a safe non-electric heater that can be used to keep the area above freezing? I know a lot of people use oil filled radiators, but for those that don't have a power supply anyone got any suggestions?
     
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  8. CiaraPatricia

    CiaraPatricia Adult Guinea Pig

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    For outdoor pigs, I'd recommend stuffing the bedroom of the hutch with hay, as much as possible. Check it every night before bed, to make sure it's dry. If it's damp, replace it or top it up. The pigs will tunnel into it and hopefully be really cosy.

    For indoor pigs, a big cardboard box filled with hay would be good.

    If you only have one pig, then remember they won't have anyone to cuddle up to to keep warm.

    Snugglesafe heat pads are microwavable and meant to stay warm almost all night. I can't say if they're good or not but I'm going to get them this year and try. I'm only going to use them at night during the winter. Because someone said not to use them during the day, or the pigs won't get used to the cold, and won't be able to handle it as well.

    Wooden hidey houses are better than plastic I think, because the plastic won't be as insulating, and might get condensation inside and be damp. Some people say plastic ones hold in heat better, but I'm not sure, I'd use wooden ones, or a cardboard box, and stuff the hidey house with hay too, but with enough room for the pigs to get in. :)

    If you have a few pigs, and if they'll share a hidey house, I think it'd be a good idea to have a house big enough for all of them to get in so they can cuddle together. But have a spare one too in case one pig gets kicked out. And if they're in a hutch, be careful that one pig isn't being kicked out of the bedroom and sleeping in the open part. Mine have been sleeping out there in the summer sometimes, but in the winter they'd be freezing.

    Also animals need more food in the winter, so make sure they have lots of high energy food to build up a good layer of fat! :) Corn would probably be good if they're not too fat already :)) and mine will be getting lots of pellets, maybe unlimited cos I know I'll get worried about the cold. (They're still mostly under a year.)

    I'm going to have my pigs in the shed for the winter. It won't have any heating and isn't insulated or anything, but hopefully they'll be ok and it'll keep the wind and rain out. I live in the south of Ireland and it's quite mild here, but remember that different parts of the UK can get quite extreme temperatures, so if you live somewhere it gets really cold then it'd definitely be best to bring the piggies inside. I couldn't believe it got to temperatures like -14 where my grandmother lived in reading . . .
     
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    Last edited: Sep 1, 2010
  9. scrumpy66

    scrumpy66 Junior Guinea Pig

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    I've been wondering about this too over the last week.
    We've just come back from a week camping, and while it's been hot in the day, the nights have been freezing. I've been cold in my sleeping bag with fleece blankets over the top, so goodness knows how my piggies felt in their outdoor hutch. I am planning to bring the hutch indoors in the winter, but they will have to be in the conservatory, as there is just no room elsewhere. The room is heated, and I will make sure there is an oiled filled radiator near the hutch.
    The problem is I can not bring them in just yet, as the conservatory is still too warm during the day. They do spend most of the day in their run in there, but only with windows and doors wide open.
    I'm wondering whether to shell out on one of those hutch snuggles, as it may be useful to keep them warmer in the conservatory at night?
     
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  10. Spishkey

    Spishkey New Member

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    and dont forget water bottles will freeze! there are little sleeves avialable now to slide over bottle to keep them from freezing, but if you dont have the funds for those a few socks rolled over the bottle do just as well :)

    there are many types of 'portable' heaters that do not require electricity, the safest being battery operated ones. if you use a gas/paraffin portable heaters please please be careful not to set it near any straw/hay, and well away from anything that could burn. and make sure it cant fall over or be knocked over easily.
     
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  11. nutmeg

    nutmeg New Member

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    It was just 8 degrees here last night, with a mild ground frost. This is a good time to start bringing in overnight, then out again during the days. xx
     
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  12. Spishkey

    Spishkey New Member

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    ive been busy the past few days making room in the sheds/stables for the piggys. its definatly time to bring them in at night with these cold temps :)
     
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  13. Caviesgalore (EPGPR)

    Caviesgalore (EPGPR) Forum Buddy

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    Another idea for stopping bottles freezing is bubble wrap inside socks! Wrap the bubble wrap around the bottle then pop a sock on over the top:)
     
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    My3cuteBoys likes this.
  14. GP's R Us

    GP's R Us New Born Pup

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    This info has been really useful for me as we have only had our two 8 week old piggies since last Wednesday. I think I'll be spending the afternoon thinking about insulating their hutch! They are in a sheltered spot so hopefully that will help.

    Thanks again for the advice :)
     
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  15. Claire W

    Claire W Forum Donator 2013/14

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    Thank you for posting this on here Jane. I remember reading through it with Erin's adoption papers. It gives fantastic advise especially for new time piggy owners xx
     
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  16. nutmeg

    nutmeg New Member

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    Today has been a nightmare. I have had 10 pigs out on the grass keeping cool. The ones left inside have had the fan on. They are all back indoors now with the fan on. I know tonight I will have to put the heating on to keep them all warm when the temperature drops. I wish the weather would either be one thing or the other! xx
     
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  17. Laura-CCC4

    Laura-CCC4 Senior Guinea Pig

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    It's all over the place, hard to keep up!

    Great post Jane, I just can't believe it's applying so early, we're only just out of August, it's a but surreal!

    My pigs are indoors but in winter I put in lots more snuggly toys - cuddlecups, Vetbed, blankets, teddies - and at night drape a huge fleece over the cages to hold the heat in.
     
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  18. flips

    flips Senior Guinea Pig

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    Bump
     
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  19. piggylips102

    piggylips102 New Member

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    Iim getting a shed for mine soon, It will have heating too. I have 22 piggys so I know they will cuddle up but I'm so happy my oh said I can go ahead with it now. it will be big to about 12ft by 10ft and just for my piggys no junk allowed lol. Poor hubby where will he put all his tools :(|)
     
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  20. guineaboys

    guineaboys Junior Guinea Pig

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    Don't splash out, we used plumbers silver, padded insulation last year, worked a treat. Stapled it all over and put a Hutch hugger over the top;)
     
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