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Do guinea pigs hibernate? Your questions answered.

In this article we will discuss the question do guinea pigs hibernate.

do guinea pigs hibernate?

Do guinea pigs hibernate?

Hibernation is the act of sleeping and resting for prolonged periods, also known as deep sleep.

The reason for hibernation is usually due to food scarcity and weather conditions.

Hibernation generally occurs during the cold weather months when food is most scarce.

An animal’s heart rate and breathing slow down dramatically to preserve the amount of energy being used, known as metabolic depression.

Before an animal goes into hibernation, it must consume a large amount of food to be able to store fat reserves for energy to last the winter.

These animals are known as true hibernators.

While many rodents hibernate, many do what is known as Topor.

Topor is deep sleep, but awaking periodically to gather food. They do not store it or overeat it to last the entire winter.

Many rodents hibernate, but guinea pigs do not.

Guineas are from warmer climates in South America and live in a steady climate without cold seasons.

Guineas are awake for most of their lives, only sleeping four to six hours a day.

Sleeping occurs in short naps throughout the day and night.

Hamsters, gerbils, ground squirrels, and other hibernating small animals that live as pets will often not go through the hibernation process.

The temperature within a house will stay well above cold outdoor temperatures, which cues the animals it is time to hibernate.

The cold weather will trigger a natural response that is time to create a space for a long winter nap.

Keep your animals away from any drafty areas to prevent inducing hibernation.

how to tell if a guinea pig is cold

Cold temperatures, what is safe for guinea pigs, and how cold is too cold for your furry friend?

We learned that Guineas are from warm areas and do not do well in a colder climate.

Their natural habitat has temperatures above 60 F and ideally between 65-75 F.

If they are in temperatures below 50 F, they will begin to lose heat faster than they can gain it, leading to hypothermia.

What signs show they are too cold or showing symptoms of hypothermia?

1. Runny nose- One of the first signs a guinea is becoming too cold is a runny nose.

The nose will have clear fluid coming from the nostrils.

Monitor the room temperature to see if it is within the appropriate temperature range (65-75 F).

2. Quick shallow breathing- Take a look at their rib cage; is it moving in and out quickly?

By breathing at a rapid rate, guineas can become short of breath rather quickly, leading to death if left untreated.

If you notice your guinea rapidly breathing, make sure they are out of the cold area and taken to a warmer room.

Then place them in a clean, warm blanket, and let them warm up slowly. 

guinea pig FAQS

3. Signs of lethargy or not moving- Your cavy will become sluggish as the temperature gets colder.

They move less and less to try to preserve their warmth and energy.

They can look dead, as they will sleep with their eyes open in unfamiliar or new environments.

Remember, guinea pigs are naturally active animals, and by decreasing the ambient temperature, you will take this away.

A guinea will reduce its food and water intake to stay warm and live in a state of inactivity.

If your guinea is slowing down, provide a more hospitable area and let them warm up.

Using a heat pad or warm bottles wrapped in a towel is recommended if you have them available to keep off any effects of mild hypothermia.

It will be essential to monitor the heating pad to ensure that it is not too hot or the animal has not chewed through any components. 

do guinea pigs hibernate

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Ways to provide extra warmth in your pet’s cage and improve living conditions

1. Cage cover- If the room temperature is not warm enough for your guinea pig, they will need a cage cover. A cover helps to keep small spaces warm and allows guineas to maintain an average body temperature.

2. Extra bedding, thick blanket- If you have decided to use disposable bedding such as Aspen wood shavings for bedding, then providing additional shavings in the bed area is recommended.

The extra material will trap body heat and allow them to burrow.

Place some thick blankets in the cage when using fleece bedding to allow a warm place to snuggle.

Cavys like to be covered. They feel safe as they are prey animals who feel exposed in the open.

3. Heating pad- An electric heating device that can go directly into the guinea pig enclosure to provide warmth. The pad will need to be concealed with blankets to deter chewing on the product.

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There have been a few reports of the heater getting too hot and possibly a fire risk.

If you plan to buy one, make sure you check on it regularly and look for any signs of fire or damage your guinea may have caused.

A positive feature is that it will shut off if it does not detect weight on top of it.

4. Special care in the wintertime- If you live in a cold climate, then adding a portable thermostat to the room will help you monitor the ambient climate of the room.

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This model will allow you to plug in a heating or cooling device should you so desire and control when it starts and stops due to the temperature you set it.

The device will work great as an accurate temperature device, as the sensor is in the wireless remote.

You will have the most precise temperature when you set it right next to the cage. 

5. Outdoors- If using an outdoor cage, ensure you have hutch covers and proper insulation for the colder months to maintain the heat within the enclosure.

The hutch cover needs to be waterproof to keep any rain or snow from leaking in. In the UK, a company known as Scratch & Newton makes waterproof covers for cages called Hutch Huggers.

A combination of tactics, including extra bedding, a heating pad, and a cover will need to be put into place depending on how cold it is.

6. A cage mate- Guineas will huddle together when it is cold and share their body heat to stay warm. Guineas like to be social, but they also create an effective way to keep warm.

7. Space heater- If your house is kept at a lower temperature than 65 F, use a space heater to heat the room when cold is advised.

Please monitor the room regularly, so it does not become too warm.

Place the space heater in an open area but not next to the cage.


Guinea pig owners know that their piggies do not hibernate and should not worry about it happening.

It is crucial to monitor your pet frequently, as they cannot tell you when they are cold.

One will need to pay attention to the signs of hypothermia, such as a runny nose, rapid shallow breathing, and not moving.

By identifying symptoms of hypothermia early, you will prevent health issues and a possible medical emergency.

Your guinea can become cold very quickly due to their small size.

Please be aware of the cage location in the house and have a thermostat near the cage to ensure your pets are in the optimal temperature range.

Want to learn more general knowledge about Guinea Pigs?

Check out these articles

B. M. McAllan, Fritz Geiser, Torpor during Reproduction in Mammals and Birds: Dealing with an Energetic Conundrum, Integrative and Comparative Biology, Volume 54, Issue 3, September 2014, Pages 516–532, https://doi.org/10.1093/icb/icu093

Frohlich, J. (2021, February). Guinea Pigs. Merck Veterinary Manual. Retrieved April 19, 2022, from https://www.merckvetmanual.com/exotic-and-laboratory-animals/rodents/guinea-pigs?query=guinea%20pig

Frohlich, J. (2021, February). Hamsters. Merck Veterinary Manual. Retrieved April 19, 2022 from https://www.merckvetmanual.com/exotic-and-laboratory-animals/rodents/hamsters?query=hamster%20hibernating

Quesenberry, K. E., & Donnelly, T. M (2019, November). Special Considerations for Guinea Pigs. Merck Veterinary Manual. Retrieved April 19, 2022 from https://www.merckvetmanual.com/all-other-pets/guinea-pigs/special-considerations-for-guinea-pigs?query=guinea%20pig

U.S. Department of Agriculture. (2020, July). Guinea pigs do best when housed at the right temperature. United States Department of Agriculture. Retrieved April 19, 2022, from https://www.aphis.usda.gov/animal_welfare/downloads/guinea-pig/acaid-guinea-pig-temp.pdf