Small pets such as rabbits, guinea pigs and even fish are particularly susceptible to the cold, given their small size, so they need special care during the wintry weather.
PDSA has put together some ‘Do’s and Don’ts’ to help owners keep their pets snug and warm.
Rabbits and guinea pigs:
DO move guinea pigs and rabbits into a cosy shelter, such as a well protected warm shed or car-free garage. Make sure they still have access to natural light, toys and room to exercise; DO provide extra bedding in the hutch to keep them warm; DON’T keep the hutch near smoky conditions, other pets or stressful noises; DO put a blanket or piece of carpet over the hutch to further insulate it. Make sure you DON’T block your pet’s ventilation or view; DO make sure there are no drafts or dampness. It’s best to have the hutch raised off the ground; DO check water bottles at least once a day to make sure they haven’t frozen.
Hamsters, gerbils, mice and rats: DO keep their cages away from cold draughts, such as doors and windows; DO provide extra bedding to help them keep warm and cosy; DON’T let the temperature inside drop too low – you can drape a firm blanket (but make sure that they can’t chew it) over their cage overnight. Ensure it doesn’t block ventilation or their view outside. Think about keeping the temperature in that room fairly stable so that it doesn’t fluctuate too much.
DO check both indoor and outdoor fish regularly during the cold weather; DO remove dead leaves from outdoor ponds and ensure the filter is kept on; DON’T let the fish pond freeze – float a large ball on the surface of the water so that if it does freeze, you can remove it to ensure your fish gets oxygen until the ice melts; DON’T let the temperature fall too low in a tropical fish aquarium by keeping a close eye on the thermometer.