How cold is too cold and more winter care tips for pet mice and rats
October 7, 2022
If you are the proud keeper of pet mice or rats, it is important to not overlook their housing and welfare needs during the winter. Even in North London, the effects of harsh winter temperatures and weather can surprise us so it is wise to be prepared for what could happen.
Plus, we have all seen the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on previous winters, so preparation now is key.
We are talking power cuts and frozen pipes, plus heat, food, and supply shortages.
The nursing team at The Vet Whetstone have put together a checklist to help you keep your pet mice or rats warm and safe during the cold winter months ahead.
Winter welfare tips for mice and rats
1. Move your pets indoors – place their hutch or cage in a warm and quiet part of your home. Your room will need good ventilation but no drafts to avoid health problems. Avoid rooms with open fires/fumes and bright lighting.
2. Keep the room temperature above 10 degrees Celsius – if it could drop below, use thermostat-controlled heating. Small mammals, especially very old/young pets, are more susceptible to bacterial and viral infections in cold weather, as well as hyperthermia. Central heating is ideal or if using any free-standing heat sources they should have an automatic shut-off if they get knocked over. Don’t place your pet’s housing too close to the heat source and keep an eye on the temperature gauge.
3. Avoid outdoor exercise & play – instead, make a safe space indoors for your pet to enjoy.
4. Add extra bedding materials – these will provide extra warmth and opportunities for your pet to burrow and snuggle into them. Be sure to research safe bedding choices for your species of pet.
5. Regularly check their water bowl/bottle to ensure it hasn’t frozen over – side note, if it has frozen, the room temperature is far too low to keep your pet mice or rats healthy.
6. Have a back-up plan – ask yourself these questions now and make a plan now:
- How will you keep your pets warm if you have a power cut?
- Do you have bottled water in case the pipes freeze?
- Do you have enough of your pet’s food if you can’t get any for a period of time?
- Do you have enough bedding and other supplies?
On the first point, wrapping a duvet around the sides of the cage can help, as can placing a hot water bottle next to the cage (outside) as long as you can boil water!
7. If your pet seems out of sorts contact a vet – monitor your pet and if they are displaying signs of ill health or behaviours out of the ordinary, it would be wise to consult with one of our vets.
If you are in any doubt about the correct temperature for your species of small furry pet, or you have any other questions, contact the team at The Vet Whetstone for advice.