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Guinea pigs - can they or can they not stay outside in the winter?

(22 Posts)
PacificDogwood Mon 01-Aug-11 08:15:22

In Central Scotland?
In an Eglu (well insulated)?
With lots of bedding?

Internet searches seem to yield rather polar opposite opinions: "Are you crazy? Of course they cannot and will turn into little furry popsicles, you insane person" to "They come from the Andes and are used to below freezing night times, so should be ok, and I have had piggies in my garden for 200 years and they are fine".

So, any experiences yourselves?

We don't have any (yet) but are thinking about it. They cannot live inside due to DH's allergies. I'd rather not get any than freeze them to death...

Also, any ideas on a good book or other reading on guineas? I grew up with rabbits, but have no experience with guineas.

TIA.

seeker Mon 01-Aug-11 08:26:23

My friend's guineas live outside all the year round. Ours don't because they need to watch Strictly and the TV reception in their outside run is rubbish.

sockpoppet Mon 01-Aug-11 08:28:43

Ours move their hutches in to the playhouse when the nights start to get cold and have a thermal cover and hot water bottle. I am not shitting you.

seeker Mon 01-Aug-11 08:28:44

Seriously though,nhtye do need to be handled a lot to make them tame and friendly and this is easier if they come inside. Is your dp definitely allergic to guineas? They are a very specific allergen, lots of people who aren.t allergic to other little animas are allergic to them and vice versatile.

Meglet Mon 01-Aug-11 08:33:45

Personally I wouldn't (and didn't). Mine were either in the garage / shed or house. Even in the shed they had a million duvets over the hutch to keep the draughts out.

PacificDogwood Mon 01-Aug-11 09:03:36

grin @ hot water bottle

And [panic] as I had not even considered checking the TV reception in the garden shock!!

I might just have to snatch a friend's piggie and rub it against DH and make him sniff it, mightn't I? <<ponders>> He is v allergic to cats, less so to dogs sad and generally doesn't tolerate dusty environments ie haylofts/stables etc.

I thought guineas were The Answer to my pet conundrum - I was going to go for rabbits but sounds like they are not necessarily the best kid's pet (panicky prey animal, does not actually like being picked up) although our bunnies when I was a child were fine with being strocked etc. I suppose we never carried them round or dressed them in doll's clothes wink. Not that my 4 boys would want to do that anyway...

Any other ideas for outdoor furry pets??

seeker Mon 01-Aug-11 09:22:47

Guineas are perfect! They are charming, make lovely noises and are easy to tame. And they don't scrabble like rabbits do. Our rabbit is very tame but still scrabbles and scratches when picked up.

Fennel Mon 01-Aug-11 09:26:46

We always mean to leave ours outside in winter but then they look so sad and cold I relent and in they come, they have to go in our living room which is a nuisance. We have mild winters here (Devon) but still they don't look happy. You have to keep checking their bedding and putting blankets on their hutch - my sister forgot to check one night and her gp couldn't get into its bedroom and froze to death.

They are far far far easier than a rabbbit. We started with a rabbit, the first GP was just company for the rabbit. But Toby the Rabbit was an utter drama queen who ruled our house with sulks and tantrums, we spent our lives trying to satisfy his moods. He was happy when he lived free in our living room, but he stropped about going back into his cage. And our neighbours got tired of chasing him around their garden when he escaped. He went to live with friends and gradually turned into a free rabbit, sighted occasionally at the end of the garden.

Stick to guinea pigs for an easy life.

LovelyDaffs Mon 01-Aug-11 09:30:34

Ours come in for the winter, one year I tried to leave them outside, bought a pet heat pad etc, but I just couldn't do it. I like it when they're inside although it's messier it's nice to have them squeaking and interacting.

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Fennel Mon 01-Aug-11 11:09:19

I think hamsters are the easiest with small children, of all the caged and hutched pets. Little effort, not very smelly, move slowly so children can handle them. Die quite soon so you don't have years of unwanted pet after child's interest wanes.

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

PacificDogwood Mon 01-Aug-11 12:35:00

janitor, I hear you, but hamsters are so small <<scoffs>>.

And life exectancy does not put me off GP - I do realise that they will be my pets really as I am not expecting the darling offspring to be reliabe in looking after them.

sockpoppet Mon 01-Aug-11 13:14:04

Our guineas squeak affectionately at us when they see us, and are very patient with the kids. They never bite( unlike hamsters) and will sit happily on my childrens lap.

SquigglePigs Tue 02-Aug-11 21:08:35

The ones I have now do not stay outside in the winter, but when I was a kid we moved ours into the shed, so they were protected from the worst of the weather, but still "out". Dad also cavity wall insulated their hutch tho!

They are fab little pets. As long as they are well handled as babies they love to be cuddled, and will eat out of your hands (to be fair, they'll pretty much do anything for food!).

CointreauVersial Tue 02-Aug-11 21:12:09

I had some as a child and they never came indoors. Plenty of bedding - they'll be fine.

Don't scoff at the hot water bottle - my mate has one for her GPs - it is like a ceramic disc that goes in the microwave; you then wrap it in a old towel and it keeps the little mites warm on the coldest night.

Steeplearningcurve Tue 02-Aug-11 21:12:27

Having had both, I agree guinea pigs are easier than rabbits. Ours used to live outside in winter but they had a lot of straw and an old piece of carpet over the front of the hutch, plus they were in a fairly sheltered bit of the garden. Main problem used to be making sure their water bottle didn't freeze!

RussAbbotDancer Tue 02-Aug-11 21:31:23

I've had both, in north and central Scotland, and fine during the winter with bedding/out of prevailing wind/bit of old carpet on top.
I found guinea pigs dull. Not social. Not funny. A bit too highly strung.
When I kept solo rabbits, as a teenager, they were pretty dull too, but then I found out that rabbits should really only be kept in (neutered) couples because they're so social. In my twenties I kept a pair of house rabbits which were hilarious. Comic timing, proper rabbit gymnastics and character in abundance.
Er, in conclusion, I recommend two rabbits. If you re-home a couple, some re-homing places already have pairs of bonded rabbits. (I'm allergic to cats, dogs and horses but not rabbits - yes, I recommend the rabbit/pig inhalation test.)

PacificDogwood Wed 03-Aug-11 13:27:59

Thank you all again smile!

Just for the record: I was not scoffing at the hot water bottle suggestion, just grin - made me feel all GP maternal <<sop>>

I feel a visit to the local rescue centre with DH coming on to let him sniff various small furries wink - gawd, that sounds all wrong...

UnSerpentQuiCourt Thu 04-Aug-11 22:09:51

Ours live out with a wine bottle full of hot water in their sleeping compartment and a board over the wire front. Interested in ceramic disk ....

Do two rabbits get as friendly as one? Need new rabbit after rabbit tragedy and wondering if two would be happier or if they just would never become tame and friendly. Used to have a very funny house rabbit, whom the dog adored. Always had a rather soggy licked rabbit.

CRIKRI Wed 17-Aug-11 20:52:29

I would say no, and many rescues won't re-home guineas if the new owner intends to keep them in a hutch outdoors. A heated shed would be okay, but otherwise, not a good idea, imho.

Guineas can be prone to skin complaints that are made worse by cold and damp - particularly fungal infections. Also, when an animal is kept outdoors, it becomes just that little bit too easy to say, "Oh, I'll just run out and throw some food in and get back in the warm," rather than actually giving the pig attention, checking it for signs of ill health, etc. Guineas are social animals and are happiest when they can interact with other guineas, but also with their humans. That's best done when they are indoors. Also, I can think of quite a few examples where mine or other people's piggies have suddenly become ill and if they'd been outdoors, just checked a couple times a day, it would have been too late probably to save them.

overthemill Wed 17-Aug-11 20:57:14

we brought ours in last winter as it was SO cold on advice of vet. bu they were fine the previous winter. having said that, ours are so much more fun now inside! keep dd awake tho!

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