If you, for some reasons, dislike keeping animals inside your home, can you still have a guinea pig? Well… yes. Guinea pigs can be kept outside in certain conditions, although it’s still recommended that you keep it inside. The main reason for this is that guinea pigs are very sensitive to temperature extremes. For example, when it’s too hot outside, guinea pigs require a lot of water, and it isn’t the most comfortable. And in contrary to that, keeping your piggie out during strong winters is going to cause lots of problems for them.
In regard to that, we’ll examine how you can keep your guinea pig both inside and outside.
Can Guinea pigs be Kept Outside?
Both yes and no. It really depends on the place you live. Some countries like Norway, Sweden, Finland, Iceland, and the UK have really cold winters. In the UK, the temperature is also a bit lower with lots of rain. If you leave your guinea pig unprotected, it can quickly freeze to death and this can happen VERY fast! If you plan on keeping your piggie outside, you need to build a special cage with lots of isolation and a high-quality top, to prevent rain from getting inside the cage.
But, what about summer? Well, summer in some countries is very intense. Strong heat, lots of sun, and generally dry conditions aren’t going to be good for your guinea pig. In this case, you’ll need to make a special shelter and place it somewhere where the sun is weaker. And on top of that, you’ll need to constantly pour some fresh water for the pig, as guinea pigs mostly drink cold water. The best time for keeping your guinea pig outside is probably springtime, as weather conditions aren’t that extreme.
What Temperature is Best for Guinea Pigs?
This one is a bit debatable, as every guinea pig is sometimes drastically different. As we told earlier, any extreme weather condition is very bad for a guinea pig, even if it’s too hot. The rule is that guinea pigs can go out when it’s somewhere between 18 to 23 degrees Celsius (64 to 73 degrees Fahrenheit). And if we compare guinea pigs to humans, this temperature is also a sweet spot for many of us. During this temperature, you can comfortably leave your house, dressed relatively modest. If the temperature goes below 18 degrees Celsius (64 degrees Fahrenheit), your guinea pig can have serious problems.
It can either freeze to death or go into a state of hypothermia. And if it’s very hot outside, a heatstroke can happen. In either case, the body has a response to the extreme weather conditions. When a piggie is hot, the blood flow to the skin increases, letting them cool down a bit. When the blood flows faster, the blood pressure is also higher, leading to a heatstroke. During the cold days, the blood flow will succumb to the coldness in order to conserve heat. Of course, this can lead to freezing.
How to Keep Guinea Pig Hot in the Winter?
Let’s be clear. If you live in some of the aforementioned countries, chances of keeping your guinea pig hot outside during the winter are…well, small. However, if you live in a country where the winter isn’t strong, here’s what you can do:
Get Some Quality Bedding
Quality bedding is always needed for your guinea pig. However, during the winter, an extra care should be put. Not just that it needs to be comfortable and soft, but also very warm for your guinea pig. That’s why you should always add more bedding and also some hay, as hay preserves heat very well. Be sure to check the bedding every once in a while to determine if it’s wet. The wet bedding should be removed immediately!
Also, if you can, try to make your cage a bit smaller. If it’s too big, you’ll need a lot more hay and it can’t get warmer very fast.
Implement a Hutch Cover
It’s obvious – get a hutch cover! A hutch cover is obligatory as it protects your guinea pig and the cage from rain, snow, or any other weather condition. If rain falls all over the cage, the bedding can get soaked, making your guinea pig sleep on the wet bedding. And what happens if your guinea pig sleeps on a cold water? Well, it can get cold, it can start coughing, and even vomiting. This is something that you want to avoid.
The best way to do it is to try and cover the majority of the cage or hutch, but still, leave some space for the air to flow. You don’t want to leave your guinea pig without fresh air, do you?
Get Another Guinea Pig
Keeping a single guinea pig outside can be devil’s business. But, if you manage to buy another guinea pig or perhaps two more, the heat will be shared between these pigs, allowing them to survive the winter much easier. This can also apply to people. When it’s hot outside, you want to be alone, and when it’s cold, you just want someone to snuggle with. That’s the case with guinea pigs, too!
If you have two or three guinea pigs, it will be much easier for them to snuggle together thus sharing the heat between each other.
Check Their Water
If the temperature reaches below 0 degrees Celsius (32 degrees Fahrenheit), the water will usually freeze. Having in mind that you want to keep a guinea pig outside, the water will also be outside, increasing the chances for this to happen. But, what can you do to prevent this? The harder way is to constantly go outside in order to change water. Not only that it’s harder, but it’s rather impractical.
On the other side, you can secure your water bottle within the hutch and place a hot towel around the bottle. This will prevent your water from getting cooled, at least for an extended period of time. Alternatively, you can always hide it under the hay and then place a towel.
How to Keep Guinea Pig Cool During Summer?
Keeping your guinea pigs outside in the summer is much easier to do. Still, you’ll have to take certain precautions to avoid heatstroke. Here are they:
Provide Plenty of Water
How to survive a very hot summer? Simply drink a lot of fresh water! Water will not only keep your guinea pigs hydrated but also serve as a cooling agent. Given that you’ll probably give your guinea pigs some cold water, it can get hot pretty fast. In this case, you’ll need to check their water often, as well as position the hutch away from the sun.
Position the Hutch Away from the Sun
To prevent water from heating pretty quickly, hiding your hutch away in the shade is the best option. It’s important not only for water but also for your guinea pig! As we mentioned earlier, they can easily get a heat stroke if you don’t keep them away from the sun, especially if you have more than two guinea pigs. Next time you plan on putting the hutch directly in front of your house, think about it again.
You can build something that will prevent the sun from warming up the hutch. That’s up to you and your imagination.
Raise the Hutch Above the Ground
When the intense heat starts, the ground warms up pretty fast. If you have a lot of concrete in your yard and less grass, this heat will be significantly higher. This means that placing the hutch directly on the ground isn’t a great idea. You can, however, place it on the table or simply create additional legs for it and raise it above. The interesting thing is that most high-quality hutches that you can buy, already have this possibility, so you don’t need to build anything.
Trim the Hair
Some guinea pigs are a bit hairier. Be sure to trim their hair often in order to keep them cool. When trimming, excessive hair is eliminated, making a Guinea pig cooler and less prone to heatstroke during the summer.
Guinea pigs came to our homes living outside, so yeah… they can definitely live and survive outside of your house. However, a guinea pig isn’t the most enduring animal as it can easily suffer from the consequences of weather extremes. Bear in mind that you’ll need additional bedding for keeping a guinea pig outside during the winter, and in the summer, you’ll need to get away from the sun.
If you manage to provide your guinea pig with the aforementioned conditions, it’ll be able to live a long and happy life. Still, keeping a guinea pig inside is a far more superior solution.