Keeping your small furries warm in the winter
With the winter months fast approaching, we need to start thinking about how we can keep our outdoor housed pets warm and cozy in the cold weather. Overnight temperatures in Britain during the winter can often drop below freezing. Whilst our rabbits and guinea pigs have fur coats to provide added insulation and they can cope well with a variety of temperatures, they must have some sort of protection from these very low temperatures.
In the wild rabbits will dig large warrens below the ground – they gain a lot of heat from the surrounding earth as well as added insulation from bedding that they drag down with them. There are several ways that we can allow our pets to stay warmer through the cold winter nights:
- Plenty of insulating dry bedding – straw or hay can be used
- Use a cardboard box to line the sleeping compartment of your rabbits/guinea pigs accommodation and then fill the cavity surrounding he box with straw to help insulate it.
- Use insulation around the accommodation – you can buy purpose-made bubble wrap and foil “hutch huggers” or you can make your own. You need to make sure that your pet cannot chew it.
- Use heat pads – you need to make sure that they are safe for small pets, and non-toxic. Do not use grain based heat pads as these will be chewed and will only last 5 minutes! You can buy purpose-made heat pads for small furries from most pet shops that you can microwave and stay warm for 10 hours
- Some owners will bring their animals in over the winter – either into the house or moving their accommodation into the garage – remember though that your animals do need access to sunlight even in the winter and so still require exercise during the day in a run.
- Provide shelter from the rain – all pets need to have adequate shelter from rain in the winter – you can provide tunnels or small houses within their runs for this; another option is to use a tarpaulin over the run to protect from the rain.
Laura Bateman qualified from Nottingham University in 2014 when she joined Larkmead Vets in Didcot. Laura spent a lot of time seeing practice with Larkmead throughout her studies and has been a client with her own animals from a young age. Laura enjoys seeing all animals but has a particular interest in rabbit medicine and surgery, as well as other small furries. She shares her home with her two rescue rabbits and three dogs.