If you have small animals, like hamsters, guinea pigs, or rats, don't forget they can get hot and dehydrated too. Just because some are less likely to be outdoors doesn't mean they're safe from the summer sun. Small animals need to keep cool and require special care during the summer. The methods we use for ours may surprise you as can some of the methods we do not recommend.
A small, thin build means more vulnerability to heat and dehydration. Hamsters, rats, and other small animals have very thin skin. They also have fur. While they are not likely to get as hot as we are, the effects of the heat can be very detrimental. Since small animals have such a thin frame, their bodies often react to overheating very rapidly, which can be extremely dangerous when it comes to heat exhaustion. The effects of dehydration can also come on quickly in such a small animal.
Can I spray my small animals with a mister? No. Many small animals can become ill or even die of they get wet. This is because they can get too cold and get the chills. While it may at first seem like a great way to quickly cool them off, it can become deadly very quickly. Instead, buy your small animal some unscented chinchilla sand to roll around in or a chinchilla granite slab to lounge on and cool off.
Cage location is key. Absolutely do not keep a small animal's cage near the window, especially not in the summer months. The sunlight can heat up the cage quickly. Animals in glass aquariums may feel like they are in a constant sauna. We like to keep our hamsters and guinea pig in a basement area where there are no windows. Because this area is also our family room, the animals still get plenty of attention. But they are much less vulnerable to the heat.
Provide shaded shelter. Our hamsters and guinea pig each have a special hiding spot in their cages. Whether you use a grass hut or another type of small animal house, be sure your pets have something to hide underneath. The shade will help keep them cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter. We prefer the miniature grass huts as the small animals seem to enjoy those the most. The hay may be providing a cooling effect.
Make cool, fresh water readily available. Ice is too cold. Never, ever give your small animals ice cubes. Just like being too hot is bad, so is being too cold. Many small animals, like hamsters, are prone to getting the chills. Therefore, ice is a very bad idea. Instead, change the water supply often and make sure the water is clean and cool.
Air conditioning or a cool mist humidifier is essential. Fans are a no-no. Never ever face a fan toward a small animal. Since they are so tiny, they are more vulnerable to inhaling small particles of dust and other contaminants. It's much safer to keep their room cool with a cool mist humidifier that is across the room or with an air conditioning system. Proper ventilation and filtration is also a must for the same reason you don't want a fan blowing around. Too much dust is very bad for small animals.
*I originally published this via Yahoo Contributor Network
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