So the long nights are drawing in and the days have a definite chill to them. It’s a time when we are starting to think about Christmas, and preparing our home for the winter. This year we want to put a special focus on the extra care needed for guinea pigs and rabbits over the chilly winter months.
1 – Shelter
If your guinea pigs or rabbits usually live outdoors, consider bringing them indoors if you can during the winter months. Doing so will help to prevent them becoming too cold, or exposed to the typically dreich Scottish weather. Pets kept indoors are also more likely to enjoy time socialising with the family and playing in the home. So, if you are able, we would strongly recommend you consider moving your furry pals inside, to a quiet area of your home, such as a porch, utility room, spare room etc. Even a shed or an unused garage would be suitable if a place in the home is not possible.
In cases where you cannot move their enclosure indoors:
- Ensure that it is in a sheltered area of your garden, with less exposure to the elements.
- Check that it is appropriately weather-proofed multiple times over the winter months (ie. check that it is stable and off the ground, that it is not leaking, and that the roof is sloped to allow rain or snow to run off.)
- As food can be scarce, badgers and foxes can often be braver than usual when venturing into people's gardens – ensure that your enclosure is secure enough to keep your small furries safe.
2 – Additional Warmth
- Make sure to provide plenty of extra bedding throughout the winter months to ensure they remain warm and cosy – this should be changed daily to keep them warm and dry. They also love furry blankets and pet-friendly heat pads!
- You can also cover their home with a heavy blanket on particularly cold evenings (ensuring they still have adequate ventilation) to provide extra warmth.
- Remember to change their water daily to prevent the bottle from freezing! You can also wrap the bottles in bubble wrap or cloth – such as an old t-shirt or scarf!
3 – Excercise and Enrichment
Even in the winter months guinea pigs and rabbits still need plenty of exercise, fresh air and natural light on a daily basis. Make sure to give them access to their run every day – if they get wet you can gently dry them with a towel and some cuddles before popping them back in their enclosure!
If your rabbit or guinea pig lives alone – we strongly advise that you consider bonding them with a friend to prevent loneliness. As naturally sociable animals, they should always be kept in bonded pairs or small groups to allow natural fun, play and company – and additional warmth on wintery nights!
- RSPCA – Winter Bunny Advice
- Vets Now – Rabbits in Winter
- PDSA – Guinea Pig Housing