Hello, summertime! We love your sunshine, popsicles, balmy nights, and seasonal produce, but if we're being totally honest, we could do away with the sticky, suffocating heat! While the Pacific Northwest doesn't get too terribly hot, we are currently in the midst of a heat wave, which has inspired us to sweat -- no, wait, we mean share -- our best and brightest hot weather tips for you and your cavies! We hope these easy, breezy ideas bring a bit of relief and keep your pigs healthy and safe all season long.
LIMIT OR TEMPORARILY CANCEL OUTDOORS TIME
The fresh air and warm sunlight may seem tempting to us humans, but imagine how quickly we’d overheat this summer if we were always wearing fuzzy furry coats! Guinea pigs are rather sensitive critters; their ideal temperature range is between 67 and 77 degrees Fahrenheit. So, if your pigs are generally kept in a run outdoors, it’s time to bring them inside for the season. Outdoors time can still be accomplished in the morning or evening when temperatures dip, but keep in mind humans can tolerate much more heat than our pigs can.
Let's move this party inside, boys!
KEEP CAGE OUT OF DIRECT SUNLIGHT.
This is a year-round rule, but it’s especially important for summer. The sun streaming through the windows may not seem too warm to you, but remember -- you can move out of the way, your piggies cannot. Make use of blinds, curtains, or even sheets or blankets pinned to the window to block out heat and keep your home cooler.
BE MINDFUL OF THE ROOM TEMPERATURE . . .Here in the Willamette Valley, few homes have central air conditioning or whole-house fans, so we use floor fans and personally have a wonderfully efficient window AC unit. Both of these can be turned on and off throughout the day to conserve energy and keep an ideal atmosphere for guinea pigs and humans alike.
. . . AND USE CAUTION WITH FANS!
Floor fans are a great way to circulate and cool air in a room, but tread carefully: guinea pigs are highly susceptible to Upper Respiratory Infections (URI’s) due to their anatomy (read: close proximity of their furry potato-like bodies to the ground). Fans, or any air stream for that matter, should never be pointed directly at your pigs or their habitat, as they can become ill and even pass away if the URI is not promptly treated.
I'm all about summertime safety . . . but will this helmet give me hat hair?!
PACK AWAY PLASTIC PIGALOOS & HEAVY BLANKETS.
Plastic igloo hidey homes should be removed in very warm climates, at least during the hottest part of the day. Plastic will trap heat, causing temperatures inside the pigaloo to climb quickly. Heavy beds and blankets should be removed as well -- they simply aren’t necessary during summer months. Try light cardboard or a lightly colored draped sheet to provide a secure yet breezy hideaway spot.
STORE MORE THAN JUST SNACKS IN YOUR FRIDGE.
You can easily create “cool-down toys” for your pigs to provide them a bit of relief this summer. Popular choices include frozen water bottles (with a securely tightened lid) or hard plastic ice pack; place the frozen bottle or ice pack in a sock or t-shirt and tie off the loose ends. Place in your pigs’ cage and simply remove, replace, and refreeze when the ice melts. A non-ice alternative is chilled dinner plates or stone tiles -- try leaving small, teacup saucer-sized plates in the fridge and place in the cage once cold. This can be accomplished with ceramic or marble tiles as well! We personally prefer using a water-wicking fabric to combat the condensation as the ice melts.
Queensland Guinea Pig Refuge piggy takin' it easy on a summer evening with an ice pack and a snack
Malcolm from Guinea Pig Today models his cool-down method of choice -- chilling on a cool plate!
REFRESH WATER EVERY SINGLE DAY.
You should already be changing your pigs’ water at least every other day, but now is the time to keep an even closer eye on the water bottles. Change their bottles everyday, fully emptying and replacing with fresh, cool (but not ice-cold) water. Some guinea pigs naturally drink very little, even in the summer, and some drain their bottles daily; no matter which type your pig is, ensure they have unlimited access to fresh, cool water each and every day.
DON'T OVERFEED FRESH PRODUCE -- AND NOTHING FROZEN.
You may be tempted to load up your pigs on watery produce such as melon and cucumber, but don’t go overboard -- these snacks will fill them up quickly and might deter them from eating enough hay, which they absolutely need to stay healthy and keep their systems running. Generally, appetite dips as temperatures climb, so don’t give your pigs more and more and more watery snacks to keep them cool -- they need hay and fresh water first and foremost. Try dipping snacks such as romaine in cool water to add a bit of moisture if you’d like, but do not feed more watery produce than you normally would. Additionally, avoid freezing snacks for your pigs -- the sharp edges of the ice can injure those delicate little piggy lips and tongue, and they usually do not enjoy very cold foods or water anyway.
We hope you enjoyed this post and perhaps even learned a new trick or two! How do you help your pigs stay safe and comfortable during the warmer months? Let us know in the comments at the bottom of the page! We've also included our Collection of Guinea Supplies for easy browsing! Have a great wheek!!