Guinea pigs, like most domesticated animals, are a pet that is adored by many people.
Unlike dogs and cats, however, guinea pigs are also the type of pet that requires moderate to the almost immediate attention when it comes to food, shelter, and other necessities such as cleaning their cage, giving them a nice playmate or two, and also tucking them to sleep.
With that said, there is one common question among many guinea pig owners that needs a bit of answering:
Should you cover your guinea pig’s cage at night?
With a few exceptions to the rule, the general rule is that it is preferable to leave the cage uncovered despite your best interests of giving them privacy and accommodations. However, it also depends on the circumstances and the safety of the guinea pig.
In order to fully determine if it is a good idea to cover your guinea pig’s cage, there needs to be a full understanding of the pros and cons of covering the guinea pig.
This allows us to provide a better answer than a simple and generalized “no.”
Should You Cover Your Guinea Pig’s Cage At Night?
Though generally, the answer is no, it is not recommended to cover your guinea pig’s cage; there are a few reasonable exceptions.
Sometimes the guinea pig might need an accommodation in order to sleep properly, so using a nice blanket to cover them up would do them wonders.
On the flip side, it is important to also ensure they have a safe spot to breathe and that it is easy for them to adjust. If not, it can ultimately stress your guinea pig out.
With that said, here are a few other exceptions and concerns that can benefit or cause harm to your guinea so you can better understand the situation of whether or not you should cover your guinea pig’s cage.
Pro: It Can Help Them Sleep
Since guinea pigs are commonly known as prey animals, they rely on dark places that help them “blend in” and fool their predators.
With them being household pets, it can be a little tricky for them to adjust as their senses, but by covering their cage at night, they can adjust themselves and sleep like no tomorrow (depending on the guinea pig).
If you are a bit worried, of course, you can opt for a nice nightlight placed somewhere in the area so that you are at ease with treating your guinea pigs right or slightly uncover the blanket.
Con: It Can Stress Them Out
Unless your guinea pig(s) is used to being covered with a nice blanket for the night, it can generally cause them to stress out.
Knowing guinea pigs by nature, since they are prey animals, they can easily get themselves in an uneasy manner, almost to the point where it can kill them.
With that said, they are a gentle and sensitive creature to take care of, and unless they can adjust themselves over time, some guinea pigs will remain stress for long periods of time.
In order to ensure their safety, try to slowly adjust themselves to the darkness so that by a certain point, they are well adjusted and can sleep throughout the night.
Pro: It Can Keep Them Warm
Guinea pigs, though they appear to be fun furballs or delight and look all warm in their fur coats, still detect heat like the common mammal.
Much like you would give a blanket to your dog when they are cold, the same applies to cover their cage at night.
It helps retain their heat from the fur coat and gives them a nice and comfortable location to sleep tight and await the approaching dawn.
Con: It Can Cause Breathing Problems
Again, guinea pigs are sensitive creatures due to their prey animal nature.
Though your best interests may be to cover them up and keep them all nice and warm, unless the blanket can provide enough air space for them to bring, it can lead to suffocating the poor little pets.
To make sure this doesn’t happen, use a thin blanket or create a few uncovered areas that don’t affect their sleeping ability but can enable them to breathe and sleep through the night with comfort and with ease.
Pro: It Avoids Possible Fighting/Explicit Behaviors
Of course, like all animals, guinea pigs are also prone to ensuring who is the dominant one among the group. If you have two or more guinea pigs that are male, if they are eager to fight one another, then it is best to cover them during the night so that not a single one of them would start a fight.
If there is a female guinea pig and you don’t want any “accidents” occurring during the night as well, then covering the cage is important as well.
At the end of the day, the pros and cons are there to give you a rough idea of what to expect if you decide to cover your guinea pig’s cage during the night.
After all, it is important to understand the needs of your animals and see if they need a cover or not so that everyone sleeps peacefully and soundly.
What Should I Cover The Cage With?
If you do decide to go with the pros and figure out the ways to get rid of the cons (to which we’ve provided as well), then your next question is figuring out what is the best cover for your guinea pigs to have for their nighttime slumber.
Choose Strong Materials
An important thing to consider when picking out the right cover for your guinea pigs’ cage is the material of the cover. Like all animals, guinea pigs have a tendency to chew on certain materials, much like how a dog chews on their favorite toy.
The more they chew, the more they can ruin the material of the cover you bought out for them, and the more money you have to spend towards buying a new one.
With that said, make sure to buy a nice and strong cover that does its job right, both in giving air space and a nice dark room that can give them peace of mind when they go to sleep.
Provide Enough Lighting
It is a good thing to make sure that the cover provides enough lighting that keeps the area dim rather than total darkness. Again, unless the guinea pig is used to having a cover, having a cover that still retains light to the guinea pig’s cage will help it ease its way towards adjustment.
If not, then again, the guinea pig will be prone to become stressed out.
Guinea pigs tend to sleep during the day and often find themselves awake at night as well. This is again due to their nature of being a prey animal, so allowing them some light as they sleep during the night can make them less stressed out and can sleep with their eyes closed (or open) at night.
Can Easily Be Cleaned
Like what we do with our dogs or cats’ toys and beds when it comes to cleaning their dirty work, the same is applied to the guinea pigs.
Though they may look small and have a cage, they can still cause some dirtiness to the cage and to the cover during the night.
Much like you would have to clean their cage, it is recommended to get a cover that can easily be cleaned with your hands or through a simple wash.
This allows a few fewer headaches to come through while you are tending to the needs of your guinea pigs, both during the day and during the night.
Amazon has a lot of great cage covers to choose from, such as this one, which is actually created for cat and dog cages but work perfectly for pocket pet cages as well as long as you find the right size.
Do Guinea Pigs Like Their Cage Covered?
The top of your guinea pig’s cage should have a top. This could be clear, transparent or opaque. The covering could be partially or fully secure to the top of the cage.
There should be the ability to continue the flow of air and ventilation and light even if there is a cover. Guinea pigs might feel safer when they know that their cage is covered overhead.
The fact is, birds of prey in the wild are on the hunt for a quick meal and guinea pigs get caught this way. If a guinea pig is unable to burrow when they sense a perceived threat in your house, they will get stressed if they feel exposed.
The cover prevents this. We put a blanket over our guinea pig’s enclosure when we are vacuuming or when our friend’s dog passes through the room.
Can I Cover My Guinea Pig’s Cage Just at Night?
It is entirely up to you if you wish to cover your guinea pig’s cage tonight when they are unsupervised. We do not recommend it however because it interferes with their active schedule while we are asleep.
They would like to be aware of their surroundings outside of the enclosure as well. The cover should not block any ventilation.
A partially covered top may allow for ventilation while giving your guinea pigs the sense of security when they know they are safe from swooping birds that normally try to attack them in the wild.
The act of covering a cage at night as a form of saying goodnight to aid in their relaxation or sleep is not necessary for guinea pigs.
We do not cover the cage at night with a blanket, but there is a ventilated opaque top on the cage that keeps them secure while we rest in our bedrooms.
Can I Put a Blanket Over My Guinea Pig Cage?
You can choose to cover your guinea pig’s cage with a blanket at night if you feel the surrounding temperature is getting cool.
This could happen over the winter when nights are cooler and the regulated temperature in your home isn’t steady or consistent. Be careful to not overheat these guinea pigs and allow for ventilation to flow in and escape the enclosure.
A blanket could be suffocating. If this room is a high traffic area or there are frequent guests, noise, lights and sounds occurring, you can choose to cover the cage with a blanket during those times.
Observe your guinea pigs and see if they are stressed from this action or if it helps keep them calm when there is not much activity outside of their cage.
Can Guinea Pigs Suffocate When Cage Covered With Blankets?
Yes. The blanket itself should be thin and breathable. If you are placing a thick wool blanket for example, this can lead to overheating or suffocation. It can lead to:
- excessive hiding
- lack of appetite
Guinea pigs will be stressed and may become lethargic. Lethargy in guinea pigs is an important topic we covered separately here. Notice to see if they are feeling dehydrated or giving up eating altogether.
They may hide in the back or of their cages or underneath hiding spaces out of frustration and overheating. Do not use a thick blanket. There is simply no need for it. You will be doing more harm than good.
If you are trying to prevent them from being stressed by the higher amount of activity at the moment in this room, use darker thinner blankets or move the enclosure if possible.