If you are unaccustomed to owning guinea pigs, naturally, you will want to know if guinea pigs hibernate. Many rodents are known to spend time each year in this state of inactivity, but will this be a concern or something you will need to consider? Well, I decided to do a little research to help you out a little.
So, do guinea pigs hibernate? Guinea pigs do not hibernate, even if their conditions were to get too cold (below 60 degrees Fahrenheit). As a result, they require special care when temperatures drop. Many guinea pigs find that even early fall is too cold for them. Make sure that your cavi’s habitat is warm and comfortable for them at all times to avoid potential health complications that cold weather can bring.
Guinea pigs are warm-blooded creatures. They originate from South America; Andean countries like Chile and Argentina.
As such, they are primed and suited to much warmer climates. Temperatures between 65 -75 degrees Fahrenheit is what suits them best.
When presented with temperatures below 65 degrees Fahrenheit – they require a means to survive the cold.
Although guinea pigs are able to endure a small drop in temperature, they don not function very well in freezing temperatures.
They are even known to seize up. In such situations, they can look as if they are dead, which can be a worrying sight to as an owners. You must keep your guinea pigs warm and provide them with sufficient hay and bedding.
Let us now further explore the topic so that you can understand precisely how to look after and care for your guinea pig, even when the temperature begins to drop.
What Temperature Is Too Cold For Guinea Pigs?
Guinea pigs like and do best in warm weather. Temperatures between 65-75 degrees Fahrenheit (18-23° Celsius) are ideal during the day. At night, they are comfortable in temperatures above 60 degrees Fahrenheit (15° Celsius).
The lowest temperature that a guinea pig is expected to survive is 50 degrees Fahrenheit (15° Celsius) if the air is dry.
If condensation is present around them and temperatures drop 50 degrees and below, they may will likely suffer from cold-related illnesses.
When temperatures are cold, guinea pigs will become less active and sleep for longer, extended periods. This is their body’s way of conserving energy and keeping warm.
When they get like this, they can appear lifeless, even though they are very much alive. Bear in mind that lethargy is also a sign of a possible health issue – so you need to monitor for other accompanying symptoms and be vigilant of their behaviors in all temperatures.
If the temperature gets below a level that’s uncomfortable for your pet, they can develop hypothermia. Hypothermia can become fatal if not dealt with promptly and in sufficient time.
How To Care For Your Guinea Pig In The Winter
Guinea pigs require extra care and consideration in the winter. Your pet’s habitat must be warm at all times, so they need lots of hay and bedding.
You must ensure that their living conditions are well-suited for the cold weather by relocating your cavi’s home and providing proper insulation to their cage and hutch so that they keep warm and comfortable during the cold season.
Keep in mind that if you feel the need to wear a jacket or warm jumper, then temperatures are already too cold for your guinea pig.
Make sure that their habitat is away from drafts and that the temperature of the room is between their ideal range of 65 to 75 degrees.
However, you must make sure that the temperature does not go too far the other way; temperatures that are too warm are as uncomfortable for guinea pigs as temperatures that are too cold.
You can get indoor thermometers that provide accurate readings on the temperature and humidity within your home.
I swear by this one on Amazon because it is very affordable and syncs to your phone; alerting you if the temperature is to drop below a level you can specify.
Its great for if you house your guinea pigs in an outer building, like a shed.
Either way, even with precautions ion place , you should be observant and look out for signs of ill health, taking your guinea pig to the vet immediately, if necessary.
Remember that guinea pigs need exercise, even when it’s cold. Make sure that your cavi’s have access to their run throughout the day.
They are naturally very playful and active animals and need a little extra encouragement to remain active in the winter. Getting them a run-about treat ball or two is an excellent way to promote movement which will help to keep them warm.
Your guinea pig will also need more calories, so be sure to increase the food in their bowls and be sure to give them an extra snack here and there.
As part of this, they will need plentiful and easy access to a high quality hay to chew.
How To Keep Your Guinea Pig Warm
If your cavi’s hutch is outdoors, you may consider keeping your guinea pig indoors for the winter. Unless of course, you cannot find or have enough space in your home.
Alternatively, you can move their hutch to a garage or a shed, anywhere that they will be protected from wind, rain, and snow. If you don’t have either, a porch will work just as well.
Effectively, you are trying to protect your guinea pig(s) from the elements, and the harshness that it brings. Winds, snow and rain all contribute to a colder climate for your cavy.
You must insulate the hutch to maintain your guinea pigs at a warmer temperature. You could use a thick cover like a blanket to conceal the cage.
However, if you decide to do so, you must cover the blanket with a waterproof covering such as a tarpaulin (heavy duty multi-purpose tarp is ideal here) to keep the heat in the hutch and prevent moisture and rain from soaking through.
Be sure to leave a gap for ventilation so that your guinea pigs do not suffocate. You can remove the blanket during the day, especially if the temperature is not that cold.
Another good option is to purchase exclusive coverings for your guinea pig’s hutch, sometimes they are referred to as “hutch huggers.” Hutch huggers are an effective way to insulate your pet’s cage.
There are a range available for purchase on Amazon; usually they are fit to measure so you just need to find that one that will fit your dimensions.
Another way to keep your guinea pig warm during the winter is to put more bedding into their habitat that you would normally. Bedding will keep your guinea pig warm and dry, and bedding material is ideal for hiding – which is one of their preferred pastimes.
For extra warmth, consider putting a heating pad in their hutch. They are perfectly safe to use with any pet and will work wonders in keeping your cavi happy during the coldest days.
There are generally two options when it comes to prucahsing a heat pad:
- Electric Heat Pad – of which K&H is the best one.
- Microwave Heating Pad – of which Snuggle Safe is the clear winner
Both options have their pros and cons. The electric heat pad is excellent, but you do need access to an electrical point in order to get them to run.
A microwavable heating pad is great as it is more economical and technically safer due to the fact that no electricity is involved.
Here are some other brilliant ways to ensure your pet guinea pigs(s) stay nice and warm when the environment is cold:
- Have more than one guinea pig of the same gender. They will huddle together and keep each other warm.
- Place tunnels and other warm hiding places (like beds) in their hutch.
- Monitor their water bottle regularly as water bottles can freeze in cold temperatures.
It’s essential to be aware of the guinea pig’s origins; they are happiest and healthiest in warm and dry temperatures.
Guinea pigs shut down when they get too cold, but this is anything but hibernation. Their little bodies cannot function in the way that they are used to when it’s warm and so they are behaving in a way to preserve heat and to keep their bodily functions going as intended and required.
Guinea pigs are loveable and adorable; we want them to be happy and enjoy living with us. They demonstrate their happiness by being playful and in their general disposition.
If you notice that this attitude or behavior ceases during the winter, make sure you take readings to rule out any chance that it is too cold for them. If it is, you need to proactively take measures to improve the heat (and or retention) of their environment.
So, back to our original question; do guinea pigs hibernate? No, they do not. However, you must be on the look out for signs of lethargy and inactivity; these could indicate that they are too cold.
Guinea pigs are social creatures, and they enjoy the companionship of other guinea pigs. The company of fellow cavi’s allows them to be playful, but they also keep each other warm.
You must ensure that they are comfortable, dry, have more calories, extra bedding, warming products (like heat pads/beds) and enough water to drink.
It is absolutely worth investing the time and money to keep them happy and warm during the winter season.
I am a practiced pet owner with decades of experience owning a number of different pets. I am also the main writer and chief editor here at Pet Educate; a site I created to share everything I’ve learned about pet ownership over the years and my extensive research along the way.