In general, most small animals live comfortably at temperatures at which we are comfortable. However, certain species don’t adapt well to rapid temperature shifts and temperature extremes. Rabbits, for example, cannot sweat when they get warm, so they are very prone to overheating at temperatures about 80 degrees Fahrenheit. If they are housed outside in summer in warm climates, they must be provided with shade and cool drinking water. When temperatures get very high (into the 90-degree Fahrenheit range), rabbits should be brought inside.
Chinchillas, too, with their thick fur coats, also overheat easily and are best housed inside at temperatures in the 70-degree Fahrenheit range. Conversely, small animals should not be left outside in cold weather, or they may suffer frost bite on their feet, ears, and other areas of exposed skin. Hedgehogs actually go into a near-hibernation state called torpor when they get too cold in which their metabolism declines and they stop moving. To keep small mammals healthy, be sure their environmental temperatures stay relatively constant, and protect them from exposure to extreme cold or heat.
Small animals make great pets in the right circumstances, but as with any other pet, if you are taking one of these unique little creatures into your home, you need to be prepared. By small mammal-proofing your house by securing wires, penning off safe exercise areas with baby gates, eliminating toxic plants and being aware of other potential hazards to these small pets, you can be sure that you are providing your special animal with a safe environment in which he or she can thrive and be happy.