Here in Boston, the weather is classified as “continental” and doesn’t reach any temperatures that could be considered dangerous to the health of a guinea pig. That said, there are a ton of places that get very, VERY hot.
Does that mean you won’t be able to care for or provide a good quality of life for your very own guinea pig just because you stay in a hotter climate? Absolutely not!
Keeping your ball of fur in tip-top shape is easy, even in the warmest environments (with the right information on hand, of course). Keep reading to find out how to care for your guinea pig in a hot climate!
How hot is too hot for a guinea pig?
Guinea pigs run a little hotter than other mammal counterparts, such as humans, at about 103 degrees Fahrenheit (or 39.43 degrees Celsius).
That doesn’t mean they don’t appreciate a cooler climate, favoring similar room temperatures to us, being content anywhere between 65 – 75 degrees Fahrenheit (18.33 – 23.89 degrees Celsius).
If you live in a warmer climate, keeping your guinea pig’s enclosure at this temperature can be difficult, but that doesn’t mean that it’s impossible!
We’ll take a look at what you can do to keep your guinea pig at a healthy temp, but first, let’s take a look at the risks of an overheated guinea pig.
The risks of overheating
In case you’ve never enjoyed the pleasure of the companionship of a guinea pig, I should mention that they aren’t renowned for being the hardiest of pets. They can fall prey to several ailments and overheating is a big contributor to this.
It’s important that you can identify the symptoms of heatstroke in your guinea pig. Let’s check them out:
- Lethargy. A lethargic guinea pig requires immediate attention. Some rodents are naturally predisposed to being lazy, so don’t mix laziness for lethargy. A good way to tell the difference is to check if your pet is limp. If they are limp and unresponsive or display abnormal behavior to interaction, treat for heatstroke immediately.
- Abnormality in breathing/ panting. Your pet’s breathing can become affected by heatstroke in two ways. The first is labored breathing, in which case your guinea pig may appear to be struggling to breathe, breathing in heavily and letting the breath out quickly. The second is shallow, rapid breathing.
- Increased heart rate. This may be a little difficult to gauge yourself, given that you need a stethoscope to accurately read your guinea pig’s heart rate, though, by pressing your index and middle finger against your guinea pig’s chest, you may be able to identify a higher-than-normal heart rate.
- Closed or fixed eyes. If your guinea pig is staring blankly or showing an inability to keep its eyes open, you should look for other signs of heatstroke immediately.
- Excessive, sticky slobber. A guinea pig suffering from heatstroke will likely drool excessively. Check the consistency of the drool – sticky saliva is a tell-tale sign of exposure to undue heat.
- Convulsions. This one applies to severe cases and is a side effect of severe heatstroke. If your guinea pig begins convulsing, you should attempt to regulate its body temperature and get to the vet as soon as you can.
Quick ways to cool down an overheated guinea pig
If your guinea pig is suffering from heatstroke, you must get its temperature back down as quickly as possible. Here are some ways to do this:
- Get them to the vet! While it’s possible to reverse the effects of heatstroke yourself, a vet will be able to ascertain the best care for your pet. You can treat at home, but a vet’s care is the best remedy!
- Place the guinea pig directly in front of a fan or air conditioner.
- Wrap him/ her in a cool, damp cloth.
- Give them fluids/ water.
Here are some things you should avoid:
- DO NOT submerge your guinea pig in cold water! Again, these aren’t the hardiest of pets – the cold water may send them into shock.
- DO NOT use ice packs! Ice packs can wreak havoc on your guinea pig, sending them into shock from the extreme shift in core temperature.
How to regulate your guinea pig’s temperature
So, we know how to identify and treat heatstroke, but how do we prevent heatstroke entirely? Here are a few ways:
- Do your research. There is plenty to think about when you own a guinea pig, so doing your research on sites like Guinea Pig Owner can be really helpful.
- Keep their enclosure indoors. The temperature in your home will be considerably lower than the temperature outside. This is one of the easiest ways to prevent sunstroke.
- Keep their enclosure out of direct sunlight. It’s not always possible to move your enclosure indoors. If this is the case for you, move your pet’s enclosure to a shaded area.
- Use fans, air conditioners, or heaters. This one is for those who have indoor enclosures. If the heat (or cold) has made its way into your home, use an HVAC system to help regulate the temperature.
- Place the enclosure in well-ventilated areas. If you aren’t able to make use of an HVAC system, the next best thing you can do is provide an area with plenty of airflow. If your enclosure is a bit stuffy, consider adding a bit of extra ventilation.
- Keep them hydrated. I often recommend providing your guinea pig more than one water source if you stay in a warmer climate. Their food helps too! Wild guinea pigs can go for days without water, given that they receive sufficient hydration from their food source.
Do you stay in a hotter climate? Have you faced any challenges while raising guinea pigs in a warmer environment? I’d love to hear about your experiences, so meet me in the comments!
If you have any questions for me, don’t be afraid to reach out!
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