The ideal temperature for guinea pigs to be their happiest is roughly 65-75 degrees Fahrenheit. Once the temperatures drop below 65 degrees, guinea pigs are most susceptible to falling ill and developing respiratory infections [Source].
Therefore, many owners choose to insulate their hutch to keep the temperature at a consistently safe level. But how do you do this?
You can insulate your guinea pig hutch by surrounding it with a measured tarp, particularly used to shelter from the wind. You can also purchase specially designed covers for this purpose. You can also insulate the interior of the hutch with foil or a tarp, as well as insulate water sources.
I am going to explore the many creative and nifty ways to insulate a hutch. And when I doubt, always have a backup cage you can put in your home so you can always bring your pets inside if the weather is extremely bad.
Using Thermometers for your Guinea Pig Hutch
Being prepared is the first step to preventing your guinea pig from getting too cold. Just like you may check the weather before you leave to know if you need a jacket or a tank top, keep that in mind for your guinea pigs.
It may say the high of the day is 70 degrees, but in the very early hours, it may get down to the low 30s depending on where you live. If you live near the water, sometimes added wind can make it feel even cooler.
A good way to keep track of the temperatures is to install a simple thermometer outside your hutch. You can easily read the temperature when you go out to feed your guinea pigs breakfast and to check on them.
Another tip is to actually put a thermometer inside your hutch (one that is safe and that your guinea pig can’t reach). This will give you a better idea of how well your insulation is working and how your guinea pig actually feels inside the hutch!
Using Tarps for Your Guinea Pig Hutch
Tarps can easily be bought at your local hardware or general store or simply ordered online. Make sure you properly measure your hutch to know what size you will need. You should attempt to cover any open area to block your guinea pig from rain, snow, and wind [Source].
If you have a lid to your hutch that isn’t completely sealed, that’s a good place to start, and maybe a side or two that faces the wind. You should keep a side or two open for fresh air to circulate and any possible sunlight to reach the cage and keep your friend warm.
Some cages have areas that are completely closed off with wood, which is helpful for your guinea pig to escape to and keep warm. Make sure that this area is big enough, especially if you have more than one guinea pig so you rest assured no one is left out in the cold!
Insulated Cover for Your Guinea Pig Hutch
Although tarps will keep the wind and rain out, you still may find that the hutch interior is still quite cold. In addition to the tarps, you can line the tarps with anything that will add another layer of protection and will add warmth. Think of it like wearing a sweater under your raincoat. You can use any household products that would keep you warm like an old comforter or blanket or perhaps leftover carpet from a home renovation.
You can also spend a little money on insulating foil wrap used to line attics, pipes, or loft spaces. This helps keep the heat inside and is an inexpensive alternative to just purchasing an insulated hutch cover. If you’re extra crafty, you can attempt to have this as a liner that can easily detach from a waterproof external cover so you can use it as needed.
Insulated Interior for Your Guinea Pig Hutch
If you’d rather not have a cover around your hutch, perhaps for aesthetic reasons, similar methods can be used inside the hutch. You can line the area that is the guinea pig’s normal hideaway spot (an area enclosed with wood), or create an area within the hutch you can temporarily partially seal off.
If you choose to use any materials like tarp, insulated foil, etc, make sure all the materials are reinforced and secure to deter your guinea pig from gnawing at them or having them peel off the side of the hutch during a bad wind.
Additionally, insulating bedding can help combat the cold. You can line the floors with newspaper or another absorbent layer (even safe cat litter), to keep the floor dry. Then use a large amount of straw which will add extra warmth to the hutch. Keeping on top of the hutch and keeping it dry will ensure your guinea pig stays as warm as possible.
Insulating Water Sources for Your Guinea Pig Hutch
It doesn’t help if you guinea pig is nice and snuggled up in their straw bedding, but their water bottle is frozen solid on the other side of the hutch. Hanging water bottles can be insulated similarly to the hutch itself [Source].
You may need to wrap a small amount of insulated foil around the bottle or even purchase an insulating sleeve you’d use for your drinks/travel coffee mug. If possible, moving your water bottle out of the cooler parts of the hutch would be ideal.
Try to get it as close to possible to the area of the hutch your guinea pig goes to stay warm. This way, they expend minimal energy to get to water (and food) and they won’t have to sacrifice staying warm to get a quick drink of water.
Similar methods can be used to insulate water bowls. Bowls can be wrapped in similar insulating materials or even a ring of styrofoam placed around the bowl. Just make sure you don’t build up your insulating barrier too big or else your guinea pig will have a hard time reaching their water.
There are heated bowls that also work well to keep water from freezing. They do require an electrical connection and like any device that is connected to electricity, you always run some risk.
If you do decide to use this method, try to thread the wire outside the hutch as much as possible and secure it with a weatherproof wire covering. If you must thread a portion of the wire through the hutch, do your best to hide it and always reinforce the wire with a protective “pet-proof” casing just in case it’s discovered and your guinea pig decides to chew on it.
When Insulating Your Guinea Pig Hutch Fails
Sometimes we can be creative as possible and after many DIYs, you still may find that your hutch isn’t as warm as you’d like it to be. There are electrical options that are available, but there is always a risk of these being potentially dangerous. When all is said and done, you may have to relocate your hutch to a shed or a garage, or simply bring your guinea pigs inside during the colder months.
It’s best to insulate your guinea pig’s hutch if you live in an area of the world where temperatures will drop under the ideal range to keep your guinea pig happy and healthy. Keep an eye on the forecast, because even if you live in a moderate area of the world, weather can be unpredictable!
When in doubt, it may be best to relocate your hutch to a shed or garage during bad winter months [Source]. The option should always be to bring your pet inside if you have any questions about whether or not you are able to keep them warm enough.
If you do choose to bring your pet inside (when normally they are solely outside), try to create a similar environment for them. Choose a warm and quiet place in your home. Moving to a new strange enclosure can be stressful for your pets, so attempt some trial runs so your guinea pig is familiar with their “winter rental” before you need to use it. If your hutch is attached to an exercise pen, make sure you are still exercising your guinea pig daily (weather permitting) since they will no longer have access to this outlet.
So get crafty and creative to keep the cold out! And when in doubt, bring your pet inside for a cuddle by the fireplace and tell them spring is just around the corner!