We’ll tell you how to help your small animals
cope with the winter

Pure lust for life for lively rodents, even in winter
Rodents love to move! In summer they like to run, skip and jump freely on the green grass. But what about in winter? Kept in a cage because the house is full of sources of danger like electric cables or heavy furniture? It doesn’t have to be that way. Build an outdoor enclosure with a special underlay and let your rodent rummage about in some straw to protect them against cold temperatures, with sticks to nibble on and plenty of opportunities to frolic about.

We all like staying cosy and warm during the winter. And small animals are no different. Rabbits and guinea pigs can spend the whole winter outside, but they will need special protection. And even if your pet will be staying indoors, there are also a few things you should consider for the winter months.

If you want to keep your rabbits and guinea pigs outside for the winter, they must already have acclimatised to being outside over the summer. And even if your pets are used to the great outdoors, there are extra precautions you should take in their hutch to protect them against frosty temperatures.

“Guinea pigs are more sensitive to the cold than rabbits, and need special protection”, explains vet Dr. Lioba Schaetz. As well as providing them with dry, frost-free shelter, you must also make sure they have enough friends around them. If your guinea pigs are to spend the winter outside, you must keep at least four animals together to ensure that they can keep each other warm. Although these animals don’t particularly like cuddling up together, they do release body heat – and this will heat up the hutch. For the same reason, it is recommended that rabbits are only kept outside in groups during the winter.

Moreover, it is also important that you insulate their hutch or shelter correctly. This includes providing very thick walls. The wood should have a minimum thickness of 15 cm. You can also insulate it, with a polystyrene shell for instance. But make sure that air can still circulate through the shelter, otherwise condensation can collect within the space and damage your pets’ lungs. Leave a small gap between the roof of the enclosure and the walls to ensure that the air can circulate properly. Make sure that the animals are not in the path of the air circulation and that there is no draft coming into the hutch.

Place straw on the floor to keep in the warmth.
Providing the right litter will create more warmth. Begin with laying straw on the base, as this is an excellent insulating material. Next comes the litter, which should be at least 15 cm high.

If your pets will be spending the winter outside, you should provide them will a small amount of complete feed along with their hay, as their energy consumption increases as the temperature drops. You must also make absolutely sure that the animals’ drinking water doesn’t freeze and that they always have access to fresh water. Whether you have rabbits or guinea pigs: Only completely healthy animals should be allowed to spend the winter outside. Therefore, you must take your pet to the vet for a thorough health check before the winter arrives. Older, ill or pregnant animals must be taken indoors no later than when outside temperatures drop below zero degrees. Only rabbits and guinea pigs are allowed to spend the winter outside as it would be dangerous for other rodents. “Chinchillas cannot cope with moisture and hamsters also have to stay inside”, says Dr. Lioba Schaetz.

If you pets will be staying indoors over the winter, you don’t need to take any particular precautions. They don’t need any additional warmth or special care during the winter months. “Just be careful that the heating doesn’t reduce the air moisture too much”, the vet advises. You should also make sure your pets get enough exercise in winter and that they get enough fresh greens to eat. Here’s a tip from our expert: “You should feed them organic food or, if you do buy fruit and veg from the supermarket, make sure you wash it thoroughly.”

Changes in temperature can lead to illnesses
If you do want to keep your pets outdoors, make sure they stay there throughout the winter. If you keep bringing them inside and then outside again, rabbits and guinea pigs can get ill. Remember the golden rule: either inside or out. If they start living outside, they should stay there. The only exception to this rule is if your pets become weaker or get ill. Then they should be brought inside and kept there all winter.

Pure lust for life for lively rodents, even in winter
– Rodents need to move, both in summer and winter!
– But remember, your home is full of danger lurking in wait for your rodents.
– Build an outdoor enclosure with a special underlay and let your rodent frolic, nibble and rummage about in some straw.

Call into your local store today to discuss your rodent’s personal needs with our Maxi Zoo Pet Experts