Here in Southern California, it’s going to be 100 degrees today!
Rabbits, chinchillas, and guinea pigs must live indoors with air conditioning! Please make sure your cats, dogs, and other animals are too.
Rabbits, chinchillas, and guinea pigs are unable to sweat or pant to cool themselves therefore they are much more susceptible to heatstroke compared to other animals. They can only cool themselves by the veins in their ears. When the weather gets hot I get the terrible calls that people have found their rabbit suffering from heatstroke or dead due to the heat. Guinea pigs and chinchillas too.
Keeping a rabbit outside is never a good idea in general, and during hot weather it’s deadly. People often tell me “But I have my rabbit in the shade”. My reply is always the same. “How would you like to have a fur coat over every part of your body, and not be able to sweat or pant to cool yourself down while it’s blazing hot outside?” You would die. You wouldn’t do it to a person so don’t do it to an animal.
The indoor temperature should be around 74 degrees or lower. When it gets into the 80’s it’s time to take action to take action to keep the area cool.
What can you do to help keep it cool?
Keep frozen two-litre bottles of water in your freezer at all times during the summer. Put them in your rabbit’s area so they can lay against them. You can put a sock over the bottle or wrap it in a towel if your rabbit won’t lay against the actual bottle. Switch out during the day as they melt.
Marble or ceramic tiles to lay on help to cool. You can even put them in the fridge to make them cooler. BunnyBunchBoutique.com has cooling tiles, a single is good for chinchillas or guinea pigs I would suggest two or more depending on the size of your rabbit.
Large crocks of water should be available at all times, you can even add an ice cube now and then to keep the water cool.
Keep a thermometer close to the area they live in. Get one you can monitor by phone for when you are not home. Don’t forget your A/C can go out and if that happens when you are not home you need to know.
If you don’t have AC wet a large towel and hang it with a fan blowing the air through to help cool the air. You can also find homemade cooling systems on youtube using a cooler, ice, and a fan. Always be sure your rabbit does not have access to the fan cord. A fan alone will not cool an animal due to them having fur not bare skin like we do. But it can help circulate the air. Never have a fan blowing directly on an animal.
If all else fails take your animals to a friend, neighbor, or family member’s home that has A/C. If you can’t do that go to a boarding facility that specializes in rabbits, guinea pigs, and chinchillas such as CottonTailInn.com in Montclair and Fountain Valley.
Signs of heatstroke are lethargy, very fast breathing, stumbling, and wet around the nose and mouth. If this occurs your rabbit will die if not cooled down immediately. Guinea pigs and chinchillas don’t tend to show the signs of heatstroke as much as rabbits, so be very aware of the temperature they are housed in.
What do you do?
Place your rabbit or guinea pig on a wet, cool towel immediately.
Put a wet (wrung out) towel around your rabbit’s ears, gently putting the towel on the outside and inside parts of the ears. You can also open your refrigerator door and hold your rabbit, guinea pig, or chinchilla to receive the cool air coming out. Or blast the AC in your car and put them in there.
GO TO AN EMERGENCY EXOTIC VET RIGHT AWAY.
Please take all of this very seriously. Over the years I can’t count how many calls I have received about rabbits, guinea pigs, and chinchillas that have overheated and died, not just outside but inside their homes too due to heatstroke.
Please share to help others.
Caroline & the buns