With the recent series of storms coming through, it is important to make sure that outdoor housed pets are warm and cosy. Although it is not often below freezing in Cornwall, the effects of wind chill can be just as harsh.
In the wild, rabbits will dig large warrens below the ground in order to gain heat from the surrounding earth as well as added insulation from bedding that they drag down with them. There are several ways to make sure our pets stay warm enough 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 rabbit’s/guinea pig’s accommodation and then fill the cavity surrounding the box with straw to help insulate it.
- Use insulation around the accommodation – you can buy foil “hutch huggers” or make your own by re-using parcel bubble wrap. Just make sure that your pet cannot get to it and 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 These are ideal for cold snaps and stormy nights.
- 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.
- 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.
- Pets kept indoors sometimes have much less room to exercise than in the summer. Give your pets a regular outing, in their outdoor run on a fine day for a short spell, or in a contained run or space indoors. They will love you for it!