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.
Chewy.com 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.