The RSPCA is calling on owners of small animals such as rabbits and guinea pigs to ensure their pets are safe and warm during cold weather after it received more than 30 reports of cruelty to small animals this winter and expects cold weather to continue into spring.
Belinda Dent, head of the RSPCA Victoria Inspection Team, said many rabbits and guinea pigs come through the inspectorate because people are not investing the time or energy to provide proper care, especially during cold weather. Inspectors have brought in more than 50 small animals since the beginning of June.
“Just because these animals are small doesn’t mean they deserve any less love or care,” said Inspector Dent.
“Young animals are particularly vulnerable to temperature extremes and sudden changes in temperature, so a mild day followed by a cool evening – which often happens in the spring – can be a particular problem for our little friends. We suggest you bring them indoors where the temperature is more stable to protect them. from a sudden drop in temperature.
“Bringing your pets indoors also means that they have plenty of room to exercise safely. Giving them space to run, jump, stand up straight and express natural behaviors will not only keep them fit, but occupy their minds.”
Inspector Dent said that creating a safe and warm place for your young pet using fresh dry straw will allow him to dig in for warmth and will also ensure he gets enough food.
“For those who live in very cold areas, you could even consider providing your animals with a pet-safe thermal pad to keep them extra warm,” Inspector Dent said.
Rabbits, guinea pigs, mice, rats, and rodents are all social creatures, so making sure they have a companion will help them thrive. Approximately 60 young animals are currently available for adoption at the RSPCA, all of which are health-screened, microselected, immunized and euthanized.
Inspector Dent said rabbits and guinea pigs are more than people might think and encouraged those looking for a pet to consider a pocket-sized friend.
“They may be small, but rabbits and guinea pigs are colorful characters with big personalities. They have just as much love to give as cats and dogs if their owners focus on building a strong bond and taking care of them properly by giving them everything they need,” said Inspector Dent.
housing for rabbits
Large, sturdy huts or indoor play pens are a great way to keep rabbits safe while enjoying a little time outdoors.
Rabbits are highly susceptible to weathering, so keep them indoors on hot or cold days. between 10 to 25 degrees is the optimum temperature; On any day outside of this range your rabbit should be placed indoors.
Be sure to provide a space of at least 4.5m2 so that they can spend their energy happily.
· All outdoor fixtures must be insect-resistant to protect them from mosquito-borne diseases.
Avoid enclosures with wire bases and always make sure that the outer enclosure of rabbits is shaded.
Find out more about rabbit care: rspcavic.org/learn/rabbit-health/
housing for guinea pigs
The ideal ambient temperature for guinea pigs is between 16 to 24 degrees Celsius with a relative humidity of 40 to 70%.
Guinea pigs are also highly susceptible to heat stress, which can be fatal. Therefore, always make sure to keep it in a well-ventilated area that provides adequate shade and does not get hot.
Provide as large a container as possible; The minimum enclosure dimensions for a pair of guinea pigs are 2500 cm2 of usable floor space for guinea pigs over 450g with an additional 900cm for each guinea pig over 700g. The height of the containers should not be less than 25 to 30 cm.
· All outdoor enclosures must be completely sealed and sturdy enough to keep guinea pigs safe from other animals, especially predators such as dogs, cats and foxes.
Learn more about caring for guinea pigs at: rspcavic.org/learn/guinea-pigs/
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