Small Animals.... keep them warm and safe
Winter is fast approaching, and the days are getting shorter with a coolness in the air. We as humans are lucky, we have coats and central heating, but small animals are dependent on us to ensure they are kept warm and dry. If it’s not possible to move your furry friends indoors, here are some top tips on how to make sure they are kept warm outside this winter.
In the run up to colder nights check the hutch roof for any leaks and ensure the hutch is well insulated and out of the wind and draught. If it’s possible to move it to a more sheltered area of the garden do so. You can insulate the hutch by covering the roof and exterior walls with a blanket, tarpaulin, carpet or even bubble wrap. However, don't forget to make sure the hutch has good ventilation.
If you have the space move the hutch into a shed or garage but be very careful not to expose them to harmful toxic car fumes. Car fumes can be fatal. If the hutch is on the ground, it is advisable to raise it off the ground to avoid damp and rot.
Provide lots of extra hay to snuggle into. A wooden or cardboard box filled with bedding can act as a bedroom. Straw is warmer than hay, so makes good bedding but hay is still vital as it forms the bulk of rabbits and guinea pigs’ diet. Change the hay regularly to keep their hutch fresh. You could consider a heat pad specifically for small animals.
Remember to check water bottles regularly to ensure they are not frozen. You can wrap water bottles in bubble wrap, a thermal sock or glove to prevent freezing.
Our furry friends like to have fun and be entertained despite the weather so ensure they still have some time out in a run during winter and plenty of things to do like foraging for hidden treats.
Young and healthy animals are perfectly capable coping outside in the winter if you have taken proper measures to cater for their needs. However, those who are old or ill may need more care and may need bringing inside for the winter. Keep a close eye on your furry friends, if you notice any changes in their behaviour or appetite speak to your vet.
Rabbits and Guinea Pigs are social animals, if they don’t already have a little pal it might be worth considering getting them a friend to cuddle up to on cold nights!
If you already have small animals living indoors make sure to keep them out of draughts. They may still need a little extra bedding , everything in moderation though, be careful to avoid overheating. Don’t forget to change the bedding regularly to keep it fresh.