Is the sun beaming outside and the temperature quickly rising? Are you concerned that it could too hot for your guinea pigs to stay sufficiently cool and remain safe? Can they even tolerate hot weather, or are there things you need to do to cool them down? Well, you’ve come to the right place. I’ll be shortly addressing all of the questions and more. But first.
What temperature is too hot for guinea pigs? It is generally accepted that temperatures over 80 degrees F (26.6 degrees C) are too hot for guinea pigs. Instead, these rodents do best in temperatures between 65 to 75 degrees F (18 to 24 degrees C).
This may be lower than what you expected.
It was me.
Besides, on hot summer days, temperatures can quickly climb above this.
So it’s essential to know how to respond should this happen where you are.
Keep reading; it could prove essential reading!
Are Guinea Pigs OK In Hot Weather?
Guinea pigs are not OK in hot weather because they have no sweat glands and, therefore, no means of cooling themselves down. In temperatures that go beyond 77 degrees F (25 degrees C), they are susceptible to heat stress. When the temperature gets above 86 degrees F (30 degrees C), they can die from the heat.
The biggest risk to guinea pigs in hot weather is heat stroke.
Guinea Pigs Who Are More Vulnerable In Hot Weather
While all guinea pigs are at great risk in the heat, some are even more vulnerable.
Pregnant Guinea Pigs
If your guinea pig is pregnant, not only is she at a greater risk of developing heatstroke, but her unborn babies are more likely to have serious consequences as a result of diminished brain growth. There is even a greater risk of her losing her babies.
Generally speaking, pregnant guinea pigs (and other animals, including humans) struggle more in the heat because their bodies have to work more to cool down.
Long-haired breeds of guinea pigs retain heat more effectively than their short-haired friends, so they risk more health issues due to the heat.
Regular hair trims and brushing can help as one of several preventive measures in warm weather (see below).
Young Guinea Pigs
Very young guinea pigs haven’t matured enough to tolerate temperature changes as effectively as adult animals can, so they are more vulnerable to heatstroke and other problems.
Older Guinea Pigs
Senior guinea pigs struggle more in the heat because their bodies’ systems become frailer with age.
Overweight Guinea Pigs
Guinea pigs who are carrying extra weight will suffer more in the heat as they find it harder to stay cool: body fat retains heat more easily than muscle mass.
How Do I Know If My Guinea Pig Is Too Hot?
You can identify that a guinea pig is too hot by an obvious change in their behaviour and demeanor; they will generally be much more lethargic, and may be rapid breathing or lying down.
There are signs you can spot to know if your guinea pig is too hot.
Guinea pigs overheat quickly, so you need to be aware of the symptoms of heatstroke.
It can be tough to know if your guinea pig is too hot because the signs of them overheating can be subtle at first.
There are some typical situations in which guinea pigs overheat, which are useful to know.
If your guinea pigs are in any of these situations, they will likely be too hot:
- Sitting in the sun or under a heat light
- Being in front of a heat vent
- Being left in a hot vehicle
Heatstroke can happen in under an hour – guinea pigs can overheat very quickly.
Heatstroke cases in guinea pigs and other small animals are becoming more of a global issue due to climate change.
One of the first things you’ll observe is that your guinea pigs are slower or more lethargic than usual. Those are often the first indications that they are too hot.
If you watch a guinea pig’s chest, you may see that it’s moving more quickly than usual – that’s how you spot rapid breathing. You may also see your guinea pigs breathing with their mouths open or panting.
Once your guinea pigs are drooling excessively or lying down limply on one side, they are nearing the danger zone of being too hot.
In serious cases, seizures follow, with guinea pigs falling into a coma and dying shortly afterward.
In a nutshell, the symptoms of heatstroke include:
- Panting or rapid breathing
- Slower breathing or very shallow breathing
- Increased heart rate
- Fixed gaze or closed eyes
- Drooling or excessive slobbering
- Discolored gums
- Not wanting to move
You can see why it’s crucial to get your guinea pigs help as soon as you spot even the initial stages of heatstroke. The first thing you’ll want to do is to cool them down (see below).
How Do You Cool Down A Guinea Pig?
Cooling down a guinea pig involves a combination of removing them from the warm environment and carefully introducing cool air/water.
You need to act quickly to cool down your guinea pigs, but do see a vet immediately afterward, as heatstroke can have fatal consequences.
What To Do Right Away
Here’s what to do right away:
- Remove your guinea pigs from the heat source. If they were inside an exercise ball or cage, take them out. If they were outside, bring them indoors into the AC
- Wrap your guinea pigs in cool towels (towels that are dry and kept refrigerated). Only wrap their bodies – not their heads. Don’t soak them in cold water, as this could put them into a state of shock. If you don’t have towels in your refrigerator (most of us don’t!), wet them with cool water and wring out excess water before wrapping your guinea pigs
- If you have a fan, you can put them under the fan with the setting on medium to high
- Give them water (not ice water, as this can affect their bodies’ heat regulation. Cold water is essential). When a guinea pig is too hot, he quickly becomes dehydrated, so you’ll have to help him replenish his body’s water supply to avoid him going into shock. If your guinea pig struggles to drink, offer him his water bottle, or use an eyedropper or medicine dropper. If that doesn’t work, try offering a piece of cucumber or melon
- Put their feet in cool (not iced) water
- Gently wet down their fur and their ears
Once you’ve done the above, get them to a vet as a matter of urgency.
Even if you’ve rehydrated and cooled down your guinea pigs, you’ll want your vet to make sure they haven’t suffered any permanent damage.
Some guinea pigs will need IV fluids to replace lost water and minerals, and only your vet can do this.
Your guinea pigs may need pain relief, too, if necessary.
If it’s the weekend and your usual vet isn’t available, look for a nearby vet hospital. Any guinea pigs who have suffered from the heat will need veterinary attention asap.
What To Do After A Vet Visit
Once you’ve seen your vet, you will probably need to monitor your guinea pigs over the next 24 to 48 hours.
Your vet may recommend a specific powdered food (given using an eyedropper) if your guinea pigs haven’t been eating or drinking on their own.
Monitor your pets’ behavior, too. Make sure they are:
- Drinking water on their own
- Regularly going to the toilet
- Walking around easily
If you don’t see improvements in your guinea pigs’ condition within 2 days of the vet visit, contact your vet again.
How To Keep Your Guinea Pigs Safe In Hot Weather
You can keep your guinea pigs safe in hot weather by providing plenty of water and keeping their environment cool.
Provide Plenty of Water
There are several ways to provide plenty of water for your guinea pigs to help keep them safe.
- Have several water containers in their enclosure
- If they have a water bottle, wrap it in a snug that will protect it from temperature extremes
- Provide fresh fruit with a high water content (pieces of apple or melon)
- Offer crunchy veggies that contain lots of water already (cucumber, lamb’s lettuce, fresh fennel bulbs)
Note: If you are providing fresh foods for your guinea pigs in warm weather, be sure to remove any uneaten food quickly, as these items tend to ferment quickly. Unlike humans, guinea pigs can develop gastrointestinal problems if they consume fermented foods.
Provide Frozen Treats
Everyone loves a frozen treat when it’s hot outside.
Give your guinea pigs things like:
- Frozen fruit (pieces of watermelon, strawberries, or apples). You can freeze pieces of frozen fruit in ice cube trays
- Fresh fruit juice (not from concentrate, and without any sweeteners, artificial colors, artificial flavors, or preservatives)
Note: Give fruit treats in moderation, as they are high in sugar.
Provide Fresh Leafy Greens
Fresh leafy greens are an excellent source of vitamins, minerals, and hydration.
Keep The Surroundings Cool
By doing what’s needed to keep your guinea pigs’ surroundings cool, you will help them manage warm weather more safely.
The main components of a cool environment are good air circulation and plenty of shade.
If the Enclosure Is Indoors
- Pull shades or shutters across windows, or darken them with paper to avoid direct sunlight coming into the room
- Wrap some bags of ice in a cloth and put them in the enclosure (or do the same with wet wipes and cool packs or freezer packs)
- Don’t have your guinea pigs in a draft, but do provide air circulation in the room when the temperature cools down at nighttime. You can use a fan, provided it faces away from your guinea pigs
- Try putting ice cubes in their water
If the Enclosure Is Outdoors
You’ll need to be very careful if the enclosure is outdoors, as it is generally more difficult to monitor the temperature.
There are, however, some things you can do to provide added safety:
- Make sure the enclosure is in a shaded area
- Be sure there are tunnels within the enclosure where your guinea pigs can find shelter. Be sure to provide natural tunnels rather than those made of plastic: a plastic tunnel will act as a heat trap
- Place thick logs or stems inside the enclosure that can provide a shady hiding place
- Make a natural hut for your guinea pigs using twigs, leaves, branches, etc.
- Use sun sails, cloths, sheets, a parasol, or anything else you may have to hand to provide shade for any parts of the enclosure that may be unprotected
- Wrap bottles of frozen water (fill the water bottles ¾ full before freezing) with a cloth and place them throughout the enclosure (perhaps in the hut area)
- Provide a cool flooring for your guinea pigs to lie down such as spare tiles (marble stays fairly cool, for example)
- As above, put ice cubes in their water
Other things you can do, no matter whether their enclosure is indoors or outdoors, include:
- Putting some ice cubes in their water
- Brushing them. Brushing your guinea pigs helps remove excess fur and can help cool them down
- Never leaving them unattended in an exercise ball (this is good practice whatever the weather)
Guinea pigs can get too hot. And they can get too hot very quickly.
What’s more, the temperature that can cause heatstroke is much lower than you might have thought.
So, you do need to be particularly mindful of the temperature, where your guinea pigs are, and how long they are exposed to the heat for.
In the meantime, it’s essential that you proactively take steps to keep them cool (or cool them down) should the temperature begin to climb.
And if you do notice sings your guinea pig is too hot or heatstroke is taking hold, do contact a vet!
85 degrees Fahrenheit is considered too hot for guinea pigs. At this heat they are more likely to suffer from heatstroke and other heat-related complications.
It is generally accepted that temperatures over 26.6 degrees Celsius are too hot for guinea pigs.
It is generally accepted that temperatures over 80 degrees Fahrenheit are too hot for guinea pigs.
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- Can Guinea Pigs Drink Tap Water? [Is It Safe To Provide?]
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.