Guinea Pigs

How Do Guinea Pigs Sleep? All Your Questions Answered

guinea pigs sleep with their eyes open
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As people, we spend roughly one-third of our lives sleeping. That’s a whole lot of shut-eye, but have you ever stopped to wonder how much time your guinea pig spends asleep? Now that we mention it, have you ever actually seen your guinea pig sleeping before?

Guinea pigs do sleep, but they need a whole lot less sleep than humans and are actually capable of sleeping with their eyes open! That’s pretty remarkable, and it might make you wonder if there are any other cool guinea pig sleeping habits you need to know about.

Keep reading to find out all about cavy sleeping patterns and why your pet sleeps when and how they do.

Do Guinea Pigs Sleep?

OK, the answer to this question may be obvious to some of you, but it’s a common query among new or prospective guinea pig owners. After all, if you’ve ever cared for a cavy before, you’ve probably noticed that they can seemingly be active at all hours of the day.

So do guinea pigs actually sleep? The answer is yes, they do. All mammals sleep, and although scientists don’t exactly know why, they do know that sleep is essential for survival.

However, guinea pigs certainly don’t need as much sleep as us humans do — but we’ll get to that a little further down the page.

When Do Guinea Pigs Sleep?

If you’ve ever wondered about guinea pig sleeping habits and your furry friend, you may have asked the question: Are guinea pigs nocturnal?

The answer is no, they’re not, but neither are they diurnal sleepers like us. What many people are not aware of is that aside from nocturnal (active at night and sleep in the day) and diurnal (active in the day and sleep at night) sleepers, there’s another category that guinea pigs fall into.

Guinea pigs are actually crepuscular, which means they’re at their most active at dawn and dusk. That’s why it’s not uncommon to hear your cavy getting up to mischief at any hour of the day or night.

Do Guinea Pigs Sleep With Their Eyes Open or Closed?

Before we get to the answer to this question, take a moment to think about whether you’ve ever actually seen your guinea pig sleeping. Have you ever startled your pet from their slumber, or do they always seem to be wide awake and ready to go? While you’re thinking about this, ask yourself whether you’ve ever seen your pet with their eyes closed — don’t be surprised if the answer is no.

The truth is that while guinea pigs do have eyelids, they very rarely close their eyes. Even when they sleep, cavies tend to keep their eyes open.

Why? Well, take a moment to think about what life would have once been like for guinea pigs in the wild. As prey animals, they needed to be alert at all times to the presence of predators — this was key to their survival.

In rare cases, some guinea pigs may sleep with their eyes closed, but they’ll need to feel completely safe and comfortable in their cage to do so. So if you ever do see your pet sleeping with their eyes closed, give yourself a pat on the back.

OK, so let’s say your guinea pig never closes their eye. How do you know if your guinea pig is sleeping? This is another common question asked by many new cavy owners trying to come to grips with their pet’s sleeping habits.

It can be tough to tell when a cavy is asleep, but they’ll usually be very still. They may sit or lie down, and they may retreat to a particular area of the cage where they feel the most secure. Some may even burrow into a hiding spot before taking one of their quick naps.

How Long Do Guinea Pigs Sleep?

If you’re one of those people who can’t function properly unless you get eight hours of sleep every night, your approach to sleeping is very different from your cavy’s. But if you’ve ever been kept awake at night by your guinea pig scurrying around in his cage, you probably already know that.

But did you know that guinea pigs can be active for up to 20 hours a day, getting only four hours of sleep in 24 hours? And rather than getting all their sleep out of the way in one big block, guinea pigs tend to take lots of shorter naps throughout the day. These naps are thought to range in length from less than a minute up to around 10 minutes, and your pet can take them at any time during the day or night.

So if you rarely see your guinea pig catching some zzz time, there’s a very good reason why.

Can Guinea Pigs Sleep With You?

If you’re thinking about letting your guinea pig sleep in your bed with you, you should probably think twice. There are a few important reasons why this is not a good idea.

The most obvious risk is if you roll around during the night and hurt or even squash your furry friend, which is the last thing you’d want to happen. Then there’s the risk of your cavy launching an escape attempt and stumbling across other dangers and hazards around the home.

As you’re no doubt also aware, guinea pigs like to go to the toilet — a lot — so you’d need to be willing to deal with plenty of mess if you welcomed them into your bed.

Finally, don’t forget that guinea pigs are crepuscular animals, so they can be active throughout the day and night. If you value a good night’s sleep, you probably won’t get one with your guinea pig beside you.

Instead of sleeping with you, the best place for your guinea pig to spend the night is in their cage. With a safe environment and plenty of comfortable, absorbent bedding, they’ll be perfectly placed for a relaxing night.

Final Thoughts

So there you have it. Guinea pigs do sleep, but their distinctive sleeping patterns are very different from our own. And if you’ve never noticed your pet shut their eyes and have a sleep, don’t worry — that’s perfectly normal.

As long as your pet has a spacious cage, high-quality bedding and hiding spaces where they feel safe and secure, there’s nothing to stop them from getting all the sleep they need.

About author

Steven is the guy behind SmallPetJournal. He has six years of experience keeping small pets, from guinea pigs, rabbits, to hedgehogs. He currently lives with his wife & three guinea pigs in Texas.

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