Q: I have two guinea pigs. Yesterday, I took them outside to get some sun. When I came back outside about 15 minutes later, they were both lying in their cage, completely stiff, as if they had been dead for hours. I thought they were dead. I brought them inside and was getting everything ready to bury them when one of them stirred very slowly, and then the other. Today, they are not as active, and they aren’t eating and only taking a little water when I give it to them through a dropper. What happened to them? Will they be OK?  — Analia

A: Guinea pigs, also known as cavies, cannot regulate their body temperature very well. They should never be put into direct sunlight or a hot room. Your pets suffered heatstroke from being out in the sun, even though it was just a few minutes. This is most often fatal. I’m very surprised that they are both alive.

They need to be treated very gently for the next several days. Contact their veterinarian (one who specializes in exotic pets), but do not bring them until the vet tells you to do so. Moving them can be very stressful. Continue gently giving them water through a dropper or syringe a few drops at a time. Place little bits of cucumber, lettuce or melon nearby; these have high water content and some nutrients.

Cavies are extremely sensitive to sudden temperature changes, loud noises or rough handling. Be gentle with them and keep them in a comfortable location, out of direct sunlight.

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