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Rabbits and Guinea Pigs - How to Look after them in the Cold Weather

In the wild, rabbits and guinea pigs live in burrows where the temperature changes very little between summer and winter. By keeping them above ground, we are subjecting them to extremes of temperature which can make them unwell or even kill.
Here are out top tips for keeping your small pets cosy over the winter months:

1) We always recommend that guinea pigs and rabbits are kept with a companion of the same species (i.e. don't keep rabbits and guinea pigs together!) both for social reasons and so they can snuggle up to keep warm.

2) It is important to check small pets water bottles regularly to ensure they are not frozen; small animals can easily get dehydrated without a water supply. Wrapping water bottles in bubble wrap, a thermal sock or glove can help. Placing a "Snugglesafe" (pet safe hot water bottle) under water bowls can be very effective.

3) Hutches and runs can be kept warm by covering with old blankets or duvets followed by a tarpaulin. A Snugglesafe heat pad can provide warmth inside the hutch overnight.

4) Make sure bedding is kept warm and dry. Straw is warmer than hay so makes a better bedding, but hay is still vital as it should form the bulk of your rabbit or guinea pigs diet. A wooden or cardboard box with a hole in can act as a bedroom for small pets. Fill the box with bedding to ensure your pet stays warm.

5) Consider keeping your rabbit or guinea pig indoors; small animals can make great house pets but it is important not to move them from indoors to outdoors while the weather is still cold. A consistent temperature is vital.

This advice is for rabbits and guinea pigs who are young and healthy. Those who are old or ill may need more care and in particular may need bringing inside for the winter.