Guinea Pig Sleep: Everything You Need to Know


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How, why, when, where, what, and all other interrogative words that you can think of. The sleep of guinea pigs is a topic which makes us ask all those questions. Not only is it unique and adorable, but it´s also one of the most speculated topics. Given that the 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. In fact, differentiating whether they are asleep or not, is a massive task in itself! They are more active than most other organisms. 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.

Now, all that I said up till now are well-known facts. So, are you prepared to dig a little deeper and know the less known facts about guinea pigs? If you are, then in the upcoming sections, that is exactly what you will be doing. Under each subheading is a less known fact about guinea pig sleep. 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?

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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?” You might wonder “Why do these people even ask such a question, every life needs to rest, right?” 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:

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?

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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.

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?

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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!

When are Guinea Pigs Most Comfortable for Sleeping?

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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.

7 thoughts on “Guinea Pig Sleep: Everything You Need to Know

  1. I took my niece to our local pet store to “look” at Guinea pigs….her birthday was a week away and I felt 11 was a good age to introduce her to responsibility and caring for her own pet.
    Upon looking…..we found 8 weeks old guineas that had just been brought in 2 hours before by truck.
    I caved and we got “Bubbles”…..brought him and all of his fun things home….from that evening we had all held him and shown him much affection…..gave him treats….and allowed him to become part of our family very fast.
    On the 2nd afternoon of him being with us I looked at him and he was sitting on top of his little hut with his eyes closed….
    I walked over to cage and he still had them closed….not until I ruffled his bag of yogurts did he awaken….
    From that day on he will take 15-20min naps in his living room cage with eyes closed closed….the cat runs by him….our 21/2 yr old nephew runs by……no movement….he is the friendliest and most secure Guinea pig I’ve ever seen….

    We love him so much….

  2. Hmmm, let me throw my theroy into the mix. I actually don’t believe guinea pigs love the dark, being prey animals they have watch put for predators day & night. It’s also hasn’t been proven if guinea pigs can see in the dark, if they can’t that means they have to put more of their sensors into use.

    As for my theory, as a guinea pig owner I’ve noticed that my piggies have adapted to my schedule because of how well I’m bonded with them. The times I’ve fallen out of the schedule I notice that they sleep during the times I would be at work or out that makes them lively and playful when I come home. They actually adapt to any schedule as long as you follow it as soon as the clock hits 6 they know its feeding time and shout at me for food!!

    And also about sleeping in dark place, that’s because they like to hide from predators to sleep, anyways with a roof or somewhere to hide they’ll instantly sleep there. Sleeping out in the open is an amazing thing for piggies because they’re fighting instincts and know they are safe!

    The same goes for sleeping with their eyes open. Sleeping with their eyes open, I don’t call it sleeping but resting, they’re resting their body in case they need to run from a predator and have the energy to it. Sleeping with their eyes closed is when they know they aren’t in danger such as being somewhere a predator can’t get to them in their eyes.

    This article give good point but I do disagree with the theroy, my piggies do sleep a lot when I don’t give them enough stipulation when I’m in or out and they always sleep after feeding. Each guinea pig is different and it also depends on the owners care.

  3. My name is Hannah I am a piggy momma to 3 piggies who are VERY rowdy at night. I’ve tried a lot of things and they continue to keep me up at night! Any suggestions on how to have a successful bedtime someone please tell me!!! It gets frustrating and to the point where I’ve slept on the couch at times because I can’t sleep in the same room as them!! When we had Gigi (my other piggy who recently passed) We used to use a blanket over her cage and it worked with her when we first got her and it was only her in the cage but nothing seems to work with the other 3. Most of the time it starts from one squeaking then the others follow. One is male so we keep him away from the two girls. I’ve been trying to take them outside during the day to play and hopefully get their energy out (which is what you do with kids and guinea pigs are fur kids) but this doesn’t work but instead gives them more energy. My Gigi was a teddy guinea pig and we aren’t sure what these other 3 are (Jacobe the male is the father of the other two) but after having her for herself only for less than a year we established an easy and effective bedtime that worked. As soon as we added to her cage her bedtime routine was disrupted and it was very hard and is hard to retry with these other 3. ANYWAYS if anyone has any recommendations please let me know!!

  4. Two things
    One- I know I shouldn’t keep a single guinea pig but mine was the tint of a litter and picked on by her siblings, she even has a piece of her right ear missing from a squabble. If my friend didn’t intervene she would’ve died so I adopted the little guinea pig and now that she is fully grown I tried to introduce a baby guinea pig to her in neutral territory but Cinder got really distressed and when hiding from the poor clueless pup that wanted to be friends didn’t work Cinder lashed out. I returned the pup after a vet visit to make sure that she was okay. So I know I worry that my guinea pig lives alone but I think she’s at a point where she’s done with other guinea pigs.

    Two- Cinder actually started sleeping with her eyes closed not long after I brought her home. Though it took awhile for her to get used to me. So what I did is since I take night classes and take naps during the day I would take a nap on the floor by Cinder’s cage and one day to my surprise she was asleep with her eyes closed not even a foot away from my face so I took her picture 😂

  5. I actually found this page when I was trying to find out if it’s normal for my pigs to sleep so much. One is particularly lazy, he rarely even wakes up when I enter the room and if he does he certainly doesn’t bother to get up!

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