When it comes to animals, most people assume that they all hibernate. This is true for most creatures that live in the northern part of the world where hibernation is a great way to conserve energy during the winter months. As for guinea pigs, when the weather starts getting cold, you may wonder if they hibernate as well.
So, do guinea pigs hibernate? Guinea pigs are creatures that do not hibernate. These creatures originate from South America where the climate is typically warm throughout the year. For that reason, hibernation is not necessary for them. If you live in a cold climate region, the guinea pigs will need to be kept warm as they will not go into hibernation.
Do Guinea Pigs Do Well in Cold Weather?
Guinea pigs are creatures originating from South America. These creatures are mostly found in Peru. This country is located in a tropical region which means it’s warm to hot throughout the year. Guinea pigs are most comfortable when the temperature is between 65 – 75°F (18-24°C).
At night, when the temperature usually drops lower, it should not go below 60°F (15°C). However, they are able to survive at temperatures as low as 50°F (10°C). Anything lower than that will start to cause them issues.
If you live in a very cold climate, the guinea pigs will not hibernate, but they will be less active. This means they will eat less, sleep more, and stay still. When it gets too cold, guinea pigs will not do very well.
If they are exposed to the cold temperature, they will start to suffer from hypothermia. If they are in the cold temperature for a prolonged period of time, their body will start to shut down and die.
Hypothermia in Guinea Pigs
Hypothermia is when the guinea pigs start to lose body heater faster than they can produce. It will lead to low body temperature, which can be very dangerous for them.
Guinea gigs will start to suffer from mild hypothermia at first. This is when their body temperature drops below 95°F (35°C). If their temperature continues to drop, even more, it will become severe enough that it can endanger their life.
Hypothermia is more likely to affect older guinea pigs as their immune system is not that strong. Also, cavies that are sick or have health problems will suffer from hypothermia too.
If you have sick or old guinea pigs, you need to pay close attention to them during the cold weather. Once hypothermia sets in, you will have less time to treat them.
Symptoms of Hypothermia
There are a couple of signs to look for when your guinea pigs suffer from hypothermia. Most of the time it will go unnoticed until it’s too late.
The first sign to look for a lack of appetite. This will be the most common symptom of hypothermia. The guinea pigs will stay in a single location for a very long time and not eat anything, even if you put it right in front of them.
The second sign to look for is daily activities. If your guinea pig is usually active, but now they are staying in a single location for a very long time, it could mean they are suffering from hypothermia. By staying in a single location for a long time, they are conserving their energy and keeping themselves warm.
The third sign of hypothermia is quick and shallow breathing. By breathing this way, it lowers their heart rate which will slow the blood flow.
Above are just the symptoms of hypothermia that are common in guinea pigs. There are other symptoms as well and if you’re unsure, it’s best to seek medical attention right away.
How To Care For Your Guinea Pig In The Winter
During the winter, guinea pigs will require extra care. This is especially true if the cavies are housed outdoors. Their habitat must be warm at all times with the ideal range of 65 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit.
Guinea Pigs That Are Kept Outdoors
If they are kept outdoors, provide insulation to their cage and hutch. Avoid keeping their home in the middle of the yard. It’s best to keep them in a shed to protect them from the harsh winter environment. If you don’t have a shed, place the cage close to the where there will not be much wind.
Another thing to consider if the temperature is extremely cold, they may need to wear a jacket or warm jumper. Having a jacket on will help them stay out longer. This will help keep them from freezing to death. Also, guinea pigs will need to get out and exercise each day.
The run should be sheltered from the snow and wind. You can place a sheet of an aluminum panel on top of the run. Since they are outdoors, they will lose a lot of body heat.
To keep them warm, you should feed them a diet high in fat. You can feed them avocados, cauliflower, kale, broccoli, and carrots. This food will help build up their fat reserve, which will keep them warm.
Guinea Pigs That Are Kept Indoors
Guinea pigs that are kept indoors will feel more comfortable than being kept outside. When they are indoors, they will require less maintenance.
However, they’ll still need some things to keep them safe during the winter. It’s important to make sure that the room they are kept in has a temperature of 65 to 75 degrees. Some people will turn the heat off during the day if they’re at work. If so, if the temperature is going to drops below 60 degrees, you may want to provide them with a jacket to keep them warm.
Also, adding a heating pad in the cage for them is a good idea too. This will help keep their cage temperature within the ideal range. Once you get home, you can turn off the heat pad to save on electricity.
When it comes to food, make sure there is plenty of it for them to eat, especially food high in fatty content. This will help build up their fat reserve which will help keep them warm during the winter.
How To Keep Your Guinea Pig Warm in an Outdoor Hutch
If you keep your guinea pigs in a hutch outdoors, the hutch needs to be prepared for the harsh winter environment. This means protecting the hutch from the rain and snow while keeping the hutch inside warm. Below are some of the things you can do to keep your guinea pigs warm and safe throughout the winter:
Insulate the Hutch
If they are going to be outdoors often, make sure the hutch is well insulated inside and outside. This will help the hutch protected from the snow and rain and keeps the hutch inside warm.
For outside the hutch, you can use a thick blanket to cover it. Then place a tarp over it to prevent the blanket from getting wet.
When covering the hutch, make sure to leave room between the blanket and hutch for ventilation during the night. When it’s daytime, you can place the blanket halfway on the hutch.
There is also a hutch cover that you can buy, which is simply a cover for your hutch. This product will simply latch on top of the hutch to provide extra protection.
Below is the product that we recommend for your guinea pig’s hutch:
Use Extra Bedding
Extra bedding is important to keep the guinea pigs warm. When it gets cold, they will burrow themselves in the hay.
Also, hay will help provide them with the extra calories they need to stay warm.
Another thing you can use is shredded paper. A good way to keep the cavies warm is to mix the shredded paper with hay. Then place them into the hutch. When they start to get cold, they’ll crawl under it to preserve their body heat.
Another thing you can use is a shoebox. Cut a few small holes in the box, but large enough for them to get in and out of. Due to the small size of the box, it will help prevent heat from dissipating too quickly. This will help keep your guinea pigs warm. Also, don’t forget to add some hay into the shoebox to make it comfortable for them.
Use a Heating Pad
To keep their hutch heated at the correct temperature and guinea pigs warm, a heating pad can be used. There are many different heating pads available on the market. There are cheap ones and expensive ones as well.
My favorite one that I use personally is the Snugglesafe Heat Pad. What makes this pad great is the fleece covering the pad which makes it even for comfortable for them to rest on. It’s also made of hard plastic so the guinea pigs can’t chew on it and destroy it. Once you’re ready to use it, place it into the microwave for a few minutes and it will stay warm for several hours.
Unfortunately for guinea pigs, they don’t hibernate during the winter. These creatures are from the tropical region which doesn’t get cold enough where they need to hibernate. For that reason, it’s best to try to keep them in the temperature of about 70 degrees Fangrhenrit throughout the winter. If the temperature gets too cold, their body will not be able to handle it and they will start to get hypothermia, which death will follow.
As long as you keep them warm during the winter months, these creatures will be healthy and happy.