Guinea Pig Sleep: Everything You Need to Know

Given that guinea pigs are cute beyond explanation, our mind wonders about them and their functioning. If you are wondering about the exceptional sleeping patterns and habits of guinea pigs, this is your one-stop place to learn everything about it.

Guinea pigs are different from us humans when it comes to sleeping patterns.

Whether or not they require to get more sleep, is a totally different discussion. But one fact that is indisputably observed is that they do not sleep too long. They sleep not even for half the time that we do.

Starting from why they sleep with their eyes open, to where they like to sleep, get ready to know more about your little furry pals!

So, without further ado, let’s dig in!

Do Guinea Pigs Sleep at All?

The best way to learn about something thoroughly is to approach it step-by-step. When we talk about guinea pig sleep, the first step in approaching the concept is to ask the question:

“Do guinea pigs sleep at all?”

If you ever did see a guinea pig for more than a day, you would have noticed that they don’t seem to sleep at all. Anytime you see them, they seem to be ready to greet you or they seem to be ready to play with you.

So, let me cut to the chase and answer the question now. Yes, guinea pigs do sleep. Now you may ask, how does it seem like they are always awake then? Now rises the next question:

guinea-pig-sleep-everything-you-need-to-know3How Do I Know My Guinea Pig Is Sleeping?

It’s hard to tell when guinea pigs sleep with their eyes open. Look for other signs such as:

  • Curling up in a ball
  • Cuddling up next to each other
  • Rest or lowering heads on a fleece blanket
  • Yawning before lying down
  • Motionless
  • Snoring
  • Placid limbs or neck.
  • Rising and falling belly

Your guinea pigs are unique to you and your home. Watch how they develop routines before they enter a sleeping state. Don’t think the eyes closing is the only way to tell. There are other cues like the ones we mentioned in the list above.

Maybe you will see a combination of a few. Our guinea pigs do a circle dance, curl up and their heads fall completely to make their neck muscles placid.

Sometimes they yawn first. One of our guinea pigs actually farts in his sleep while the other is more likely to snore. We find it adorable.

Why Guinea Pig Sleeping All Day

Are you never seeing your guinea pigs move around actively in the mornings or evenings? It’s ok if you notice motionless guinea pigs during the afternoon. Guinea pigs don’t follow a diurnal cycle the way they do.

They are crepuscular, meaning that they are active mostly during dawn and dusk hours. Our guinea pigs are pretty lazy all day in between and we were concerned too at first.

Too much sleep could be a concern for guinea pigs who could be depressed. They may also give up eating at this time. A sulking guinea pig that is disinterested in food or any playtime in the mornings or evenings could need a visit to the vet to find out what is wrong.

Finally, we have noticed that getting guinea pigs to bond with their companions gives them more energy to wake up sporadically during the day to stretch out and play. I

n our experience, these guinea pigs go wild around 9-10pm every night just after they eat their dinner. Your guinea pigs might have their own favorite times to be active.

What Do Guinea Pigs Like to Sleep In?

Guinea pigs in the wild need some hidden shelter to feel safe from the elements and possible predators lurking nearby. They will mimic this habit in captivity as well. Your guinea pigs want a hideout, not a bed.

You don’t need to make too much effort putting together a bed or sleeping box. You just have to make sure there is a hiding space away from light and sound. Here are the easiest and best bedding options in our opinion for guinea pigs to sleep

  • Hay bedding
  • Paper based bedding
  • Anti pill fleece bedding

Hay is their favorite because they can munch and chew themselves to sleep. Just make sure to replace hay that is soiled or moist. Paper based bedding is cheap and easy to replace.

Finally, with anti pill fleece, they will not be able to pull out fibers and threads the way they can with other fabrics. This reduces their likelihood of ingesting threads.

The Meanings of Guinea Pig Sleeping Positions

Your guinea pigs will develop their own favorite sleeping positions. Remember that they won’t sleep much during the day, with naps lasting 20 minutes or slightly longer. They will sleep with their eyes open and wake up sporadically to make sure they are safe.

Stressed guinea pigs may change their positions more often, while comfortable cavies stay in one position more often. Also keep in mind that most guinea pigs love to burrow in their bedding while they sleep.

They may hide under paper based bedding or hay. If you are offering fleece as their blanket of choice, they may curl it into a ball or circular dugout and rest inside it. They can also sleep huddled together, head down or even standing up!

Look closely and you may notice a very relaxed rising and falling breathing pattern with their eyes open, but in a complete state of rest and relaxation.

1. Sleeping on Side

One of our guinea pigs sleeps on his side while the others do not. We found out that he is very relaxed and worry free. Other guinea pigs don’t like sleeping this way because it takes more time to get up if there is a possible threat.

Side sleeping for a troubled or sick guinea pig is also likely when they are weak, give up eating or display other warning signs that they could be feeling unwell. Find out which one it is by making sure their droppings looks normal, and they are eating well.

If they give up interaction with you or other guinea pigs, this could also mean that sleeping on their side is a form of disinterest due to illness.

This is not the case for us as our guinea pig sleeps comfortably in this position without a care in the world because he finally knows that his place in our home is safe. We hope the other two feel the same way in the future.

2. Sleeping in the Open

Is it normal for guinea pigs to sleep out in the open? You might be a very lucky caregiver of cavies! Guinea pigs can definitely sleep out in the open when they let their guard down.

Usually, guinea pigs like to seek out a hideout or sheltered location. They may retreat to the far corner of the enclosure or burrow under their bedding. A guinea pig who sleeps in the open has no care in the world and is completely comfortable with you.

You should feel very pleased with the surroundings and overall atmosphere that you have created for your comfortable cavies that sleep out in the open. They are carefree and feel that there are no threats nearby.

Our alpha or most confident male guinea pig is the one who displays his leadership by showing the other that sleeping out in the open is safe. We hope the other two will join him in this position more often.

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What Do Guinea Pigs Look Like When They Sleep?

Guinea pigs who are sleeping may look the same way they do when they are awake. They could even be standing upright, but still fast asleep for an afternoon nap.

An interesting fact to consider is that guinea pigs allow only a part of their brain to rest while they retain some alertness and activity in other regions of their brain.

They do so to make sure they are always ready for a possible attack from a perceived threat. Thankfully, there aren’t any around in your home and your guinea pigs may begin to relax more.

They may:

  • Lie on their side
  • Huddle together
  • Relax their muscles to look placid
  • Twitch
  • Snore
  • Yawn
  • Relax their neck
  • Keep their eyes half open and half closed

How do your guinea pigs look when they are sleeping?

If guinea pigs have eyelids, why don’t they close their eyes?

They do. They do close their eyes. But not until they are 100% completely into sleep. People say that we should be as alert as a dog. That is because dogs, even though are asleep, know what is going on in their surroundings.

Even the subtlest change in the environment, say a person entering, will make them wake up. Guinea pigs are not too different from this kind of alertness. The only difference is that guinea pigs do not close their eyelids as often as dogs do.

Why do Guinea Pigs Sleep With Their Eyes Open?

Ah, I am no zoologist to directly answer it from the top of my head. So I did some research just to be sure of my guess. Like all their rodent-relatives, guinea pigs have so many eyes on them. Well, so many eyes that adore their cuteness.

At the same time, so many other eyes of their predators, who don’t give a damn about however cute their prey is. All they need is a meal for their hungry tummy.

What we also obviously know is that nobody wishes to be eaten.

That bodes well for guinea pigs too. So, they want to keep themselves alert all the time to keep themselves safe from predators.

We, humans, invented technology to monitor our predators and even to protect us from them. But unfortunately, all that guinea pigs know is to be cute! So all that they have at their disposal to protect them is their vision!

My Guinea Pig Closes its Eyes, is Something Wrong?

The subheading of this section is an actual question that someone anonymous posted on a website that deals with the care of small pets. Buddy, if your guinea pig does close its eyes when it sleeps, you are lucky! And envy you! Guinea pigs do not close their eyes unless they are extremely comfortable.

If they have gotten that confident enough to trust you and your surrounding to let their guard down, to disengage the one defense they got, then you sure are lucky!

If you are one such person who was lucky enough to gain the utmost trust of your guinea pig, please give tips for our other dear readers on how to achieve that, in the comments section below! #SharingIsCaring!

How Long do Guinea Pigs Sleep?

Answering this question is like answering whether Schrödinger’s cat was alive or not! It just ain’t possible to ascertain a number of hours for guinea pig sleep in general.

Although, we can ascertain an average number of hours to a specific piggie. Some guinea pigs sleep hardly 4 hours a day.

Some other sleep for 10. While some other sleep for 15! It all depends on how they were raised, where they were raised, who raised them, and everything about their upbringing!

Although, an average guinea pig sleeps around 6 hours a day. But not like humans who sleep either at a stretch in the night or in the day. They only take naps. The naps together sump up to 6 hours at an average.

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What are the Maximum and Minimum Hours any Guinea Pigs Have Slept so Far?

It’s not like there is a Guinness book of records for guinea pig sleep patterns. But the RSPCA organization from the United Kingdom says that some guinea pigs stay awake for as long as 20 hours with heavy activity. While that states the minimum hours of sleep a guinea pig has had so far, there is no record of a maximum sleep session that a guinea pig has been through.

What Effect Does Their Diet Have on Their Sleeping Patterns?

Well, a lot! That is true for any organism, right? A heavy meal means sleepiness. When you eat a lot, all the energy of your body needs to be focussed at digesting the excess food. So any system other than the digestive system will tend to go on a shutdown- in other words, we fall asleep! The same applies to guinea pigs too. Especially given their very simple level of organization in their body mechanisms.

Can Guinea Pigs Sleep in Exposure to Predators?

I noticed that someone had asked this question online. I was surprised it went unanswered! So, here is the answer: NO! And, no means no. There is no other way to perceive it.

This question is like asking whether we can build walls made of transparent glass just because it keeps us enclosed just like a regular wall does!

How Important is Sleep for Guinea Pigs?

Well, to start of the answer for this question, sleep is vital for guinea pigs, just as much as it is vital for humans. But sleep is way overrated, to be frank. Guinea pigs that sleep as little as 3 hours are seen to function just as normal as another individual that sleeps for over 20 hours.

That is, in regards to their vital life systems, there is not much of a difference based on how long the individual sleeps. But it is rather an inter-connection. When the mental well-being of the individual is appreciable, there is no anomaly observed in sleeping patterns.

When do Guinea Pigs Sleep?

Anytime they feel like. They do not have their 9-5 jobs or any business to attend to. No conferences, no cooking, no school, no nothing! Okay, let’s consider a question. So they do not have to have a sleeping pattern at all.

They can sleep anytime they want. Although, they don’t. To them, sleep sure ain’t more important than playing or eating. Nevertheless, there doesn’t seem a pattern of duration in their sleep either.

Do Guinea Pigs Sleep at Night or Day?

There are many mutually contradicting theories that attempt to answer this question. But I am here to put all that contradiction to rest, once and for all!

  • Theory 1: Guinea pigs sleep at any time they want. They do not have any partiality between sleeping in the day or sleeping in the night.
  • Theory 2: Guinea pigs love to be in the dark. So they do not sleep in the night so that they can enjoy the darkness that they love.
  • Theory 3: Guinea pigs love the dark. So they are comfortable sleeping in the dark.
  • Theory 4: Guinea pigs do not like the day too bright. So they sleep in the day.

Which of these theories are true? All of the above!

Guinea pigs do sleep at any time of the day. They have no fixed time that they prefer sleeping in. Although there are some recurring patterns observed in guinea pig sleep that most owners relate to.

Guinea pigs do prefer to be in the dark rather than in the light. Some people even claim that guinea pigs are nocturnal. But we are not certain of whether or not guinea pigs are nocturnal. But we are sure of one fact. Guinea pigs do have the capacity of vision in darkness.

Given their position in the food chain as preys to several animals, their sense of vision in darkness is for obvious reasons. Guinea pigs may or may not sleep in the dark. But what theory 2 says could very well be false.

This is because guinea pigs are quite terrified of the darkness too. After all, what is the very purpose of their sense of vision in the dark?

To keep them safe from predators since darkness could make them more vulnerable. So, assuming that they do not sleep in the dark just so they can enjoy the darkness that they “love”, could be insensitive. Obviously, they can be afraid of the dark too!

Theory 3 is rather more relevant than the rest of the theories. Guinea pigs are observed to enjoy darkness rather than light. Some owners have observed that guinea pigs settle themselves to sleep in the darker side of their habitat.

Some other owners claim that guinea pigs, when left free, hide in the places away from direct sunlight. But what all of them agree with, is that guinea pigs are comfortable sleeping in the dark.

Theory 4 is utterly useless. I guess that the person who said it must have never even seen a guinea pig in their entire life. Of course, guinea pigs do not like the day to be too bright, just as much as any other animal! But that does not mean that they while away their whole day by sleeping. Guinea pigs are active and asleep at any time that they deem fit!

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What Type of Bedding is Comfortable for Guinea Pigs to Sleep on?

Well, I guess I am no expert in bedding, but I have appreciable expertise when it comes to guinea pigs. And if you ask me what type of bedding is good for guinea pigs, I gladly would enlighten you on the various choices. The finest choice is, of course, timothy hay.

Especially the third cut of timothy hay (available on Amazon) makes a great material for guinea pigs to sleep on.

While the first cut of timothy hay is way too coarse, the second cut is good grade. The third cut is just the perfect level of fineness that your furry play pals will need for their comfort. On top of that, guinea pigs enjoy eating timothy hay.

Any other artificial bedding material could potentially cause damage to your piggy’s gastrointestinal tract when they ingest such artificial material. Nevertheless, making the bedding out of hay also helps in mimicking the natural habitat that guinea pigs lived in prior to their domestication.

Usually, when I discuss what is good, I also mention what is bad. I believe that the best way to be a good man is to know what is bad and good, but choosing to implement the good exclusively to reality. So, back from philosophy to guinea pig care, wood shavings are the material that I suggest you avoid. Some trees’ wood shavings might not harm your guinea pigs.

But most of the others do. Why take the risk? Especiall when there is no way to identify for yourself which type of wood shavings you actually are using. Inparticular, cedar shavings could harm your piggy’s body more than any other.

If you want to learn more about guinea pig bedding, read this post next.

What Temperature Range is Good for Guinea pigs to Sleep in?

Ah, a cliche question! But not so much a cliche answer that we give. Because, the temperature that is optimum for guinea pigs to live in, is not the same temperature that is optimum for their sleep! Let me tell you why that is so.

When guinea pigs, or any other animals for that matter, sleep, their metabolic activity is shifted by a paradigm.

Systems necessary for functions such as digestive or circulative systems consume most of the energy while the organism is awake and needs to function. But when the organism sleeps, systems that are responsible for growth and repair take the lead. So the respiratory system pretty much goes rogue.

It has to function on its own without much monitoring from the neural system.

This could mean that your piggy could catch a cold or a respiratory infection easier when it is sleeping. So the temperature maintained while sleeping, needs to be a little, just a few degrees higher than how much is maintained while it is awake.

This is why it is advised that you be precautious. So do not ever have your guinea pig in the ranges between 65-70 degrees Fahrenheit.

Even though they can endure that when they are awake, they may be prone to respiratory problems in the same temperature when they are asleep.

Niklas

I love animals! I grew up with everything from dogs and cats to rabbits and guinea pigs. I enjoy learning about pets and to share what I learn with others.