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Winter can be a challenging time for rabbits and guinea pigs as the miserable weather discourages some people from cleaning out hutches, feeding, and general animal care. This can result in serious neglect and poses a very real threat to the welfare of these animals.
Rabbits and guinea pigs do not hibernate so if your pet becomes limp or sleepy then it is important to contact a vet as soon as possible.
Below are some tips for looking after your rabbits and guinea pigs in the cold winter months.
- Raise hutches to prevent rising damp and rot – a brick at each corner will allow air to circulate.
- Partially cover mesh doors with Perspex/plastic to allow sunlight through, but prevent wind and rain entering the hutch. Make sure the hutch still has sufficient ventilation.
- Cover the hutch with a blanket/carpet/tarpaulin to keep the heat in, but ensure the hutch still has sufficient ventilation.
- If you can, move the hutch indoors to a shed or unused garage. DO NOT move your rabbit hutch into the garage if you use it to store your car in overnight, the fumes could easily kill your rabbit.
- A cardboard box and newspaper are good materials for creating a warm sleeping area. If your rabbit urinates in the sleeping area, get a litter tray which fits inside the cardboard box, this will help by making it easier for you to clean out and it'll make the box last longer.
- Increase feed in winter as rabbits and guinea pigs will use more energy heating themselves, so need to take in more energy through their food.
- Rabbits and guinea pigs still need exercise in winter, so allow access to a run.
- Check that water bottles/bowls are not frozen (including spout).
- Change bedding regulalry as it can freeze.