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How to Keep Rabbits and Guinea Pigs Cool in Summer

29 Jun, 2023
Small Animals

Our Australian summers can be extremely hot and uncomfortable, even more so for small animals like rabbits and guinea pigs as both are very sensitive to temperature changes and can easily overheat. This can lead to serious health problems and can even be fatal, therefore it is important to take extra steps to keep your rabbit or guinea pig cool and comfortable during the summer months.

In this article, we will discuss some of the best ways to keep rabbits and guinea pigs cool in summer, as well as the dangers of heatstroke and extreme temperatures.

Keep them hydrated!

Rabbits and guinea pigs can easily become dehydrated during the hottest time of year, so it is important to make sure they have access to plenty of fresh, clean water. Additionally, you can offer your pets vegetables with a high water content, such as cucumbers, zucchini and celery to help them stay hydrated.

Housed outdoors? Provide shade and fresh air.

One of the best ways to keep your furkids cool in the summer is to provide them with plenty of shade and fresh air. A shady spot in the yard or a screened-in porch can be the perfect place for your piggie or bunny to get out of the sun and cool off. If you don’t have access to outdoor space, you can place a fan near their cage to create a gentle breeze and to keep the air circulating. However, be careful that it does not get wet due to rain or anything else.

Housed indoors? Use oscillating fans or air conditioning.

If you have air-conditioning, this is another way to keep their body temperature at the ideal temperature. Otherwise, the use of an oscillating fan will help to keep them cool. However, in especially hot summers, this will still not be enough and additional methods should be used.

Use a frozen water bottle, ice brick or other water container.

If your pet gets hot, you can lie down a few ice packs or frozen water bottles to stay cool. However, make sure to cover them in some sort of cover or tea towel. The reason for this is that, just like humans, the excessive cold can be uncomfortable and can even burn the skin.

Keep them healthy.

An obese rabbit or guinea pig is not only at risk of heart complications, arthritis, high blood pressure and other health conditions, but they can also find it difficult to stay cool when it gets hot. It’s very important to keep your bunny or piggie healthy! You can learn more about what guinea pigs eat and rabbits eat on our blog

For rabbits and guinea pigs, another tip is to groom them frequently. As they will become hotter and more uncomfortable faster when they have excess fur. Groom your bunny and piggie frequently to remove this loose fur.

What are the ideal temperatures for rabbits and guinea pigs?

Heat exhaustion is especially a threat in our Australian summers, therefore we have outlined the best temperatures for both animals:

For rabbits, their ideal temperature ranges anywhere from 12°C to 23°C.
For guinea, the ideal temperature ranges from 18°C to 22°C.

What temperature is too hot for rabbits? When is it dangerous?

Rabbits are covered in a thick fur, and some breads have an exceptionally dense coat; such an Angora, Cashmere Lop and other long-haired breads. Because of these factors, rabbits are very susceptible to heatstroke, which can become fatal very quickly. So, it is imperative that you DO NOT allow the rabbit’s cage, run or room to exceed 25°C. Since every rabbit is different in their ability to cope, due to age, breed and weight, it is important to monitor their behaviour carefully for any signs of heatstroke or dehydration.

What are the signs of rabbit heatstroke or heat stress?

The signs of rabbit heatstroke are important to watch for, they include;

  • Panting
  • Lethargy
  • Reddening of the ears
  • Salivating
  • Wet nose
  • Weakness and slower movement
  • In-coordination, confusion and odd behaviours
  • Convulsions
  • Coma; which often leads to death

If you suspect your rabbit is suffering from heatstroke, then we highly advise that you contact your local vet immediately, because as we mentioned before, it can become fatal very quickly!

Consult with a veterinarian if your pet shows signs of heatstroke.

If you have any concerns about your rabbit or guinea pig’s health during the summer months, and /or your pet is showing signs of heatstroke, book an appointment with your veterinarian as soon as possible.

By following these tips, you can help keep your rabbit and guinea pig cool and comfortable during the summer. Remember to always keep an eye out for signs of heat stress and to provide your rabbit or guinea pig with plenty of fresh water, shade, and cool places to rest. With proper care, you and your beloved pet will enjoy the summer worry free!


Article supplied by Tea Cup Nethies

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