Keeping rabbits and guinea pigs cool in summer
We might enjoy the summer heat, but it can be tough on rabbits and guinea pigs. We’ve put together some tips to help keep them cool and comfortable on hot days.
In the wild, rabbits spend the hottest part of the day underground in their nice, cool burrows. They choose to come out to feed in the mornings and evenings when the weather isn’t as hot. Guinea pigs also struggle in the heat and aren’t built for basking in the sun!
Our pet rabbits and guinea pigs live in a different environment from their wild relatives so need a bit of a helping hand to stay cool. Any pet can overheat in hot weather. It's important for all rabbit and guinea pig owners to recognise the signs of heatstroke and know what to do in an emergency, but prevention is always better than cure.
You’ll need to be extra careful if your pet is more at risk from the heat:
- Long haired breeds. These rabbits and guinea pigs are wearing a really thick fur coat on the hottest of days!
- Overweight pets. If your rabbits or guinea pigs are carrying a bit of extra weight, their body will have to work harder to stay cool.
- Very young or old pets. They can struggle to control their body temperature in really hot or cold weather. This can be due to their even tinier size, or that they are particularly fragile due to a health condition.
How to help rabbits and guinea pigs beat the heat
It’s really important to help your rabbits and guinea pigs to:
- Keep cool
- Drink plenty of water
- Stay protected from the sun.
There are loads of practical, cheap and easy things you can do to help your pets.
- Keep their enclosure and exercise run out of direct sunlight. If possible, move it to a shady part of the garden.
- You can create extra shade for them in their run by draping a tarpaulin or towel over part of their exercise run, making sure there is still a nice through draught of cool air. You could even put up a beach umbrella for them! You might need to keep checking they have enough shade throughout the day as the sun moves in the sky.
- Make sure they have cool hiding places in their run too – a tunnel or cardboard box tipped on its side is a fun, shady place for them to explore.
- Fill a bottle with water and freeze it overnight. Wrap it in a towel and place it in or next to their run. It’ll give them something cold to lie against.
- Place some ceramic tiles in their housing or give them access to a cool tiled floor area so they somewhere nice and cold to lie.
Provide plenty of water
- Make sure your rabbits or guinea pigs have access to fresh, clean water whenever they need it. Remember, they’ll drink more on hot days so you may need to increase the amount of water bottles they have access to.
- Keep checking on their water and top it up throughout the day as and when your rabbits or guinea pigs need more.
- Check water bottles every day to make sure the spout isn’t blocked.
- Give them plenty of safe fruit and leafy green veg – these can help to add extra water to their diet.
- Check out our tips for fun healthy treats to keep your pets cool and hydrated.
Stay protected from the sun
- Shade is often the best protection so make sure there are plenty of shady spots for your rabbits or guinea pigs to lounge in.
- Rabbits and guinea pigs with white or thin fur are more at risk of the sun damaging their skin. Pet-safe sun cream can give them extra protection. Find out more about how to protect your pet from the sun.