Keep Guinea Pigs Cool and Comfortable in the Summer Heat

Malcolm on a chilled plateImage courtesy of Michiko Vartanian

My guinea pig, Malcolm, cooling off on a chilled plate.

With summer approaching and the weather turning warmer, it’s time to think about keeping the piggies cool. Guinea pigs have a much higher normal body temperature than humans (right about 101°) and so, what to us might be a bearable temperature can be fatal to our pigs. Their environment should be kept at between 65° to 75°. If it gets to be 80°, it’s time for real concern as they can suffer heat stroke in temperatures above 85°.

So here are some tips for keeping piggies safe and cool:

Frozen Water Bottles
As soon as I feel the temperatures starting to change and I know warmer weather is approaching, I put several plastic water bottles in the freezer. When it starts to get hot, I place one in each pig’s favorite spot and they either snuggle up next to it or they sit with their front paws resting on it to absorb the cold temperatures. I always put the frozen bottles in a sock to make it a little more comfortable and I freeze enough so that I can replace them when the ice starts to melt.

Chilled Plates
My boy, Malcolm, gave me the idea of serving their veggies on a chilled plate. I noticed that he was using his empty dinner plates as pillows (see accompanying photo). I thought this was just the cutest thing and I was having fun taking a series of “plate” photos. Then it occurred to me that the reason he was sleeping on his plates was because they felt cool. So now, in the summer, I put their plates in the refrigerator a few hours before veggie time and serve their dinner on chilled plates, which they can use to cool off when they take their after-dinner nap.

Chilled Ceramic Tiles
I have not tried this one yet, but several of my friends swear by it. They keep ceramic tiles in their freezer and place the frozen tiles in their pigs’ cages as the temperature rises. So it’s the same theory as the chilled plates except the piggies have a flat surface to lie on.

Preserving the Room’s Natural Temperature
On pleasant days, the first thing I do in the morning is throw open the curtains and open the windows so the boys can enjoy a little fresh air and sometimes even a slight breeze. However, when I know the temperature is expected to be 75° or above, I will keep all the windows closed and the curtains drawn to prevent the sun from shining in as long as possible to preserve the cooler nighttime temperature. In addition to actually keeping the room temperature cooler than the outside temperature for several hours into the day, this also saves on my electricity bill as I don’t have to start running the air conditioner and fans until later in the day.

Travelling with Piggies
Naturally, it is best to schedule vet appointments or anything that requires that piggy travel on hot days as early as possible before the heat starts to rise. This is not always possible, though. So when I have to travel with the boys on a hot day, in addition to running the air-conditioner, I always place a frozen water bottle in their travel carrier.

So I hope these tips are helpful and I would love to hear creative ways that others have found for helping piggies stay cool in the summer.

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Michiko Vartanian

Michiko has been a volunteer of Orange County Cavy Haven since she adopted her first guinea pigs five years ago. She currently cares for four adopted guinea pig boys and three fosters. She really enjoys being involved in rescue and associating with so many great people who care so much about these wonderful animals.

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5 Responses to “Keep Guinea Pigs Cool and Comfortable in the Summer Heat”
  1. Erin says:

    They also make squares of marble that are meant to be refrigerated for chinchillas – they work just as well for guinea pigs. Toss ’em in the fridge and when it warms up, put them in your piggies play area. They’ll love laying on them. I’ve also found that in the summer my girls like to chew on and lick ice cubes!

  2. Eric says:

    Chilled plates… That makes really good sense, for some reason I never thought of that. Thank you!

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