Small pets, such as mice, hamsters and rats, can be very sensitive to heatwaves due to their tiny size and that they can't regulate their body temperature as well as we can. The good news is there's lots you can do to keep them cool and comfortable.
It's important that all pet owners can recognise the signs of heatstroke and know what to do in an emergency. Common signs in small pets are:
- Taking short, quick breaths
- Acting very sleepy or lethargic
- Falling unconscious or having fits.
Prevention is always better than cure and there are lots of things you can do to help your small pets beat the heat and stay happy and healthy.
How to help small pets cope with hot weather
- Keep small pets out of the sun.
Think carefully about the best place for their enclosure. Your small pets will be happiest and healthiest out of direct sunlight. Most small pets are very sensitive to changes in temperature and are unable to move to cooler areas themselves. If they're in the sun they could quickly overheat.
- Cool but not draughty.
On a hot day, your small pets will appreciate being kept in a cool and airy room. An open window can bring in some fresh air but make sure your pet's enclosure is out of any draughts. A cold draught blowing over them all day can become quite dangerous if they have nowhere to shelter. Make sure to check on them regularly.
- Plenty of water.
Your pets will need to drink more in hotter weather. They'll need access to fresh, clean water all day. Check their water bottles every day to make sure they're changed for fresh, cool water and that the spouts aren't blocked. Check regularly throughout the day and refill the bottles with when necessary.
- Fruit and veg treats.
On hot days, give your small pets a bit of a treat with some fresh fruit and veg. Snacks like apple or celery have extra water in them so will help keep your pet hydrated. You can even pop these in the fridge to make them extra cool.
- A homemade ice pack.
You can use a frozen water bottle to give your pets a nice cool spot in their enclosure. Fill a bottle three-quarters with water and freeze it overnight. Place it on the outside of their enclosure so they can lie next to it to cool down. Don't put the bottle inside their enclosure – it could make them too cold!
How to keep birds cool in hot weather
A lot of pet birds tend to be exotic species and so chances are they are already well-suited to warmer weather. However, even though our weather may never reach what they’d be used to in the wild, you should make sure they have an environment where they have daylight and a view for enrichment but have enough shade to cool down and get out of direct sunlight. You might also want to give them a small bird bath to cool down in. Keep an eye on them for signs of illness and make sure you take them to a vet straight away if they are ill.