Guinea pigs are generally easy to care for, but they do have a few special needs. One of these is the need to be kept in moderate temperatures. They're healthiest in rooms between 65 and 75 degrees F, and they'll develop heat stroke pretty easily if kept in temperatures warmer than this. As summer rolls in, follow these tips to ensure your guinea pig stays cool in spite of the hot weather.
Keep the cage out of the sun.
In the winter, your guinea pig may have enjoyed sitting in a sunny window. Now that temperatures are hotter, it's wise to move the cage to a shady area. If your home does tend to get hot in the summer, or you don't have central air, think of the coolest room in your home and place the guinea pig there. (Make sure it stays warmer than 65 degrees F). In some homes, this means keeping the guinea pigs in the basement.
Set a fan up near the cage.
In warmer homes, it's important to have air circulation near the cage. On days when the temperature soars, place a portable fan near the cage. Position it so that only part of the cage is hit by the flowing breeze. This ensures the guinea pigs can escape the breeze if they get too chilly.
Place the cage on a cool surface.
If the temperature climbs above 75 degrees F and there's no cool space for the guinea pigs, one way to cool the cage off is to place it on top of a cool, wet towel. Replace the towel every hour or so to ensure it keeps cooling the bottom of the cage.
Use caution when letting your guinea pigs play outside.
Many guinea pig owners take their pets outside, either in a hutch or on a leash. In either case, you should exercise caution when taking your guinea pig outside in the heat of summer. Reserve these adventures for the evening hours when it's cooler, rather than taking your guinea pig out in midday. If you leave your guinea pig outside in a hutch, make sure there's a shaded area where he or she can escape the heat. Don't leave your guinea pig unattended for more than 30 minutes, just in case he or she overheats.
Should your guinea pig become overly lethargic, start panting, or start moaning in his or her cage, these are signs of heat stroke. Immerse your guinea pig in cool water to bring his or her body temperature down, and take your pet to an animal hospital like Southwest Florida Veterinary Specialists & 24-Hour Emergency Hospital. Although the tips above will help prevent heat stroke, accidents do happen, so it's important to be on the lookout for these symptoms.