Keeping small pets warm in winter
Our small pets feel the cold too, even if they’re used to living outside. You can make their winter a warm one by following our top tips.
Outdoor pets: rabbits, guinea pigs and ferrets
If your rabbits, guinea pigs or ferrets live outside, you can make their winter a bit more comfortable with these simple steps:
- Bring them inside in the worst weather. If temperatures drop, bring them inside. A porch or conservatory is perfect for them because they won’t get too hot. If you’re not able to bring them into your home you could keep them in a car-free shed or garage. Remember: car fumes could be fatal.
- Keep their hutch out of rain and snow. Make sure it’s in a sheltered area of your garden where wind, rain and snow can’t get in.
- Give them extra warmth. Put an old blanket or tarpaulin over their hutch to help keep it warm.
- Outdoor exercise. Even in cold weather, your pets need natural light and exercise so make sure they have constant access to an outdoor run to use, too.
- Extra bedding. Give them plenty of bedding hay to snuggle into. Change it regularly to keep their hutch fresh. Ferrets tend to love fleecy blankets and sleeping sacks.
- A heat pad. Place an animal-safe heat pad under their bedding for extra warmth.
- Wrap up their water bottles. Stop their water bottles freezing by wrapping water bottles in bubble wrap or an old sock.
Top tip: Keep rabbits with other rabbits and guinea pigs with other guinea pigs. Ferrets also enjoy the company of other ferrets. By keeping these pets in pairs or groups you’ll be giving them the right kind of company they need to be happy. There’s an added bonus in winter months: two will be warmer than one!
Indoor pets: rats, mice, gerbils and hamsters
Even if your pet lives indoors, they might need an extra bit of warmth over winter:
- Move them out of drafts. Drafts from windows and doors can give your hamsters or gerbils a chill. Make sure their enclosure is in a secure area where they can stay warm without overheating.
- Extra bedding. Give them extra bedding to snuggle into on cold days. Change it regularly to keep their enclosure fresh.
- Keep them away from fumes. From non-stick frying pans to wood burning stoves – there’s lots of things in our homes that produce fumes. We might not notice them but they could harm small pets.
Festive fun for small pets
Don’t forget your small pets this festive season! Let them join in the fun by offer them some of their favourite food wrapped in brown paper. Figuring out how to get to the food is a great challenge to occupy their inquisitive minds and stops them getting bored.
Winter pet advice
Stay safe on winter walks with your dog and bring small pets in from the cold – our vet’s tips for giving your pets a happy and healthy winter.
Lining your pet's cage
Read our advice on the most comfortable and hygienic ways to line your small pets cage or enclosure.