I used to work summers at a Girl Scout camp and the raccoons would get very bold. We tried to be careful to put any garbage or leftovers in cans with tight lids. Even then, we actually sat and watched through a screened door in the lodge as one huge coon pried the lid off a metal garbage can to get inside it one night.
Skunks are another concern. A skunk killed a litter of wild baby rabbits beside my house last year. Tore the heads off each one. I don't think it did it to eat them. Just wanted to kill them so they were not in it's territory, I guess.
I don't take mine outside at all, though I think they might like it. My biggest concern is the neighbor's silky terrier that gets loose on occasion. There are also hawks and crows. I don't know if a crow would bother a guinea pig but I've seen them snatch baby birds from other birds nests. I figure my kitchen is as dangerous an area as they will be seeing for open space (and my wooden chicken is the scariest predator that should be looking at them).
- Cavies 'n Cobwebs
Thistle Cavies enjoy outdoor time too. There are hutches for shelter - inside or underneath, with hay and water too.
The galvanised steel fencing is sunk into the ground, totally enclosing the hutches with the mesh continuing overhead in an apex roof and padlocked door.
No leaves or other debris, birds or animals can get in.
I'm not suggesting you get something this big but you definitely need a pen with strong fencing that is not easily chewed apart by a curious mammal or is easily moved around by them. It will need a strong top too, shelter and some agreeable weather! We are still waiting for the last part... ;·)
However, besides Scotland's weather, there have been other factors which have stopped my pigs from being able to go forth into the sun to drown themselves in grass. One being supervision. Where I live there's a healthy population of other peoples outdoor cats who love my lil lago-rodent farm, that and Scotland's temperature isn't too friendly at night. Which could be applied to where you are - do you have an alarm system that would alert you should temperatures go too low during the night so you could move them in? Why do you really want your pigs to LIVE outside (granted, temporarily) during the night anyway, what benefit does it have to them?
The way I see it is, if you let your pigs sleep outside there are a few pros and cons:
Pro: fresh air. They get FULL sunshine and perhaps a more "natural" feeling, to you, to their life. Whether they prefer this from living inside you'll never know. It's also, from an "I enjoy camping" a pretty nifty idea on the outside.
Con: Regardless of why or where from, you are begining to "attract" animals that would potentially go for your animals. While NOW the racoon is disinterested in the guinea pigs, that doesn't mean it will always be disinterested. Would you leave a dog and a pig unsupervised in a room? Your pigs aren't camping and don't have a vial of tea to sip. At night they are enclosed in their hutch and could potentially feel threatened should something scary begin to tug at their cage door.
I've found that a lot of animal owners are control freaks - when it comes to the care of their animals, and I agree and I'll admit: I hate putting my animals into a situation I can not control. I hate first introductions, illnesses and putting them outside my glaring distance upsets me.
I promise you, your pigs can enjoy the summer weather just as much during the day where you can make a lot of noise should danger come stalking :)
Somehow though, I don't think that's the time of enclosure being referred to in this thread.
- Cavies 'n Cobwebs
Perhaps trying something a little less ambitious than this would be a better start to building an outdoor pen!
NoCableisSafe, to be honest the TC piggies haven't been out this year yet (last year's pics), the weather hasn't been kind enough! As for my own 2 pigs, they didn't go out last year either due to the weather being too hot in my garden (when it was dry enough) and next door's 2 german shepherds.
It's not a case of turning them out just because it's summer or keeping them out overnight regardless, but a few hours of fresh air and fresh grass does some a power of good.
ETA: ...and you don't need a lawnmower. ;·)
I have not had experience with raccoons. I hadn't heard about gps being carried off by hawks. egads.
Their night house (not really a hutch, and a bit larger than a 2X4 cc) is very overbuilt by my husband. A bear could probably break it, but short of that...
They don't really need to be out during the night, though. He didn't build it for the guinea pigs, it was originally for the chickens. And I thought, hey, this is right here, undercover, and the size of a c&c, wonder how this would work? um, yeah, nevermind, don't think so. Like I said, that cage is awesome, and I don't see any animal breaking into it, but maybe a raccoon could get one paw in. nasty.
I haven't been reading any threads lately, please point me to any relevant ones, please.
For (supervised) outdoor time, will they show signs of discomfort when they get hot? Before they're WAY too hot, I mean. As long as they're grazing in the shade, I figure they're doing fine, right?
(Barbs, I didn't say I was there every minute, I admitted I was NOT watching them every minute.)
Ruby and Marigold, who used to bicker, but love each other now
Lena, Ruby's mother
- Supporting my GL Habit
Beyond that, the best way to watch for them to get overheated is to give them the tools to prevent it in the first place - ceramic tiles to lay on, bottles of frozen water to lay next to.
- 4 the Good of all Pigs
I don't think I'd bring my pigs out in anything over 80 degrees. They are used to the air conditioning at 77 so I doubt they'd do well. Not a chance I'm willing to take anyway.
Ooooh, and I agree with rshevin about wanting to join Thistle Cavies in their outdoor pen. Perhaps my two boys could join in the piggy party, although I'd probably return home with pigs stuffed under my jumper xD
it's frustrating that I'm SO close to the rescue but too far to go and help out (or steal pigs *cough*) I do order hay from them! They (TC) give the best timothy hay since Pets at Home started stocking it.