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Are Guinea Pigs Nocturnal Animals? (Sleeping Habits & More)

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Tim Rhodes

Are guinea pigs nocturnal animals?

When are they most active?

Do guinea pigs sleep?

Understanding guinea pig sleep cycles and other aspects of guinea pig behavior will allow you to provide your pet with the best care, without much stress and worry.

Let’s learn more about guinea pig sleep and the habits of these cute small animals!

Are Guinea Pigs Nocturnal Animals?

Guinea pigs are not nocturnal.

However, they are most active during dawn, when most people are asleep.

Likewise, you may notice that their activity increases at dusk.

The average guinea pig needs roughly four hours of sleep per day throughout any time of the day.

This means that these cute, pocket-size pets will sleep during short intervals during day and night.

They might not even close their eyes while sleeping.

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Last update on 2021-09-12 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Are Guinea Pigs Nocturnal or Diurnal?

There is no guinea pig that’s either diurnal or nocturnal; generally, guinea pigs have odd sleeping habits.

While diurnal animals are awake during the day, nocturnal animals sleep during the day and are active during the night, usually hunting for their prey.

According to studies, guinea pigs are crepuscular animals.

They are most active at dawn and dusk and sleep in very short breaks during the rest of the day.

The crepuscular lifestyle suits guinea pigs because of their characteristics and unique sleeping habits.

They are small, domestic creatures.

However, their ancestors lived in the wild.

A long time ago, guinea pigs used to worry about bad weather and hungry predators, but that is not the case with domesticated guinea pigs.

Earlier, a guinea pig active at dusk and dawn had greater chances of survival.

Guinea pigs were prey and they constantly tried to avoid predators and escape their attacks.

Also, being crepuscular meant that a guinea pig could wander without much concern about coming across a starving creature.

Does the Environment Influence the Sleeping Habits of a Guinea Pig?

Yes, definitively, the environment influences the sleeping habits of a guinea pig.

Usually, animals adjust their sleep time to their environment and the climate in the area.

Guinea pigs originate from the mountains of South America where the temperatures vary from room temperature to below freezing.

However, guinea pigs cannot handle too cold or too hot temperatures, so they would spend their time inside their burrow.

Consequently, guinea pigs function best at normal room temperatures, which in the Andes region occurs dawn and dusk.

This is how guinea pigs formed their nocturnal or diurnal sleeping patterns.

Just like other animals, when it was too hot, they would sleep during the day to conserve energy but would become active during the night to look for food.

Likewise, when it was colder during the night, they would be more active during the day.

Therefore, guinea pigs adapted to their environment and, today, their sleeping patterns correspond to the ones they inherited from their ancestors.

Nowadays, guinea pigs live only in captivity and, as far as we know, they don’t exist in the wild anymore.

What Are The Sleeping Habits of Guinea Pigs?

Research suggests that guinea pigs’ sleeping habits are not common for the whole species but vary.

Since guinea pigs are crepuscular animals, they are active at dawn and dusk, meaning they are not much active in the day or night time.

In contrast to most other rodents, the sleep patterns of guinea pigs are uncommon.

Rarely you can catch them sleep at night or throughout the day.

Actually, many people believe that guinea pigs do not sleep at all.

But that’s not true!

Let’s see what is a typical guinea pig sleep cycle.

Generally, a guinea pig will scatter its sleep through the 24-hour day, with lots of 10-minute naps.

This suggests that guinea pigs sleep twice every hour, in 20-minute intervals.

They just get their quota from the naps that they take throughout the day and night.

When guinea pigs sleep, they easily wake up.

Every little sound or movement can disturb their sleep, as they are extremely alert, instinctively afraid of predators.

That is why, if you want to provide your pets with comfort and peace, you should place your guinea pig’s cage away from loud noises.

Guinea pigs need peace to relax and build their trust in you, without being scared of their environment.

Some guinea pigs literally just catch 40 winks, whereas, others might snooze as much as 30 minutes at a time.

However, younger guinea pigs sleep for a short period of time while the older ones spend more time resting.

Guinea pigs do not shut their eyes so it’s nearly impossible to know if they are asleep.

Which Sleep Positions Do Guinea Pigs Prefer?

They sleep in almost any ‘awake’ position.

Usually, guinea pigs sleep with their heads leaning forward.

You won’t know when a guinea pig is asleep, as they mostly sleep with their eyes wide open.

Though there is an exception to this habit.

They do sleep with closed eyes, only when they are comfortable in their environment.

So, if you see your guinea pig sleeping with its eyes closed, it means that it’s relaxed and comfortable with you and the environment.

They need only four hours of sleep each day and will spend most of the day awake.

Why Do Guinea Pigs Sleep With Their Eyes Wide Open?

Since guinea pigs are prey animals, they want to stay alert for different kinds of dangers.

This is the reason why guinea pigs developed this sleeping behavior and sleep with their eyes wide open.

When they are completely relaxed, they tend to close their eyes to sleep.

When you look at your guinea pig’s cage, chances are that your guinea pig will be active running around, playing, or eating.

You’ll almost never see your guinea pig sleeping.

This is entirely normal and your guinea pig sleeping habits are not comparable to humans or other rodents.

When a guinea pig is relaxed, it will stretch right out.

Why My Guinea Pig Doesn’t Sleep?

You might be wondering why guinea pigs don’t sleep, especially if your guinea pig’s cage is in your bedroom.

The reason you are asking this question is that you have never seen your guinea pig sleep at night time, and it might be making a lot of noise that prevents your sleep.

Your guinea pig is secure in its cage, so you can’t see a reason why your guinea pig doesn’t sleep and appears most active at night.

You can notice that your pet is always awake, alert for danger.

Your guinea pig reacts to any sudden movement and sound and is aware even when asleep.

However, your pet does sleep!

All guinea pigs sleep every day (and night) in short intervals, and they do so with their eyes wide open!

What Are the Sleep Stages in Guinea Pigs?

Guinea pigs sleep in the following 4 stages.

Stage 1 is the early stage of sleep when a guinea pig starts to slow and calms down.

Stage 2 is the time before deep sleep.

Stage 3 refers to the state in which the guinea pig is in deep sleep, although it cannot be equated with the deep sleep of humans.

Stage 4 is also known as the rapid eye movement and dream stage.

None of these stages of sleep in guinea pigs lasts for longer than a few minutes.

Where Does My Guinea Pig Sleep the Best?

A guinea pig’s cage is not a place where your pet can create burrows.

Therefore, you should provide one in which it can feel safe and comfortable.

Your guinea pig’s cage should be large enough to house a safe hideaway spot where your guinea pig can retreat for a nap whenever it needs to.

However, in a quiet environment, your guinea pig can also fall asleep wherever it happens to be within its cage.

Due to its small size, every guinea pig feels exposed in open spaces.

Therefore, a safe hideaway spot in your guinea pig’s cage is the best you can do to provide your small animal with a cozy spot where it can find rest.

Is Control of Temperature Important for Guinea Pigs?

Keeping the temperature comfortable is very important for the well-being of your guinea pig.

Guinea pigs are uncomfortable in direct sunlight, regardless of the time of the year.

Their bodies overheat more easily than those of other animals.

That is why the 75F (24C) room temperature is the best for guinea pigs, and you should never keep your pets outside.

Some of the signs of overheating is increased heart rate and breathing, lower energy, aggression, and changes in sleep cycles.

Like all other animals and humans, they do not like to be jolted from a nap because of noise.

What Factors Affect the Sleeping Habits of a Guinea Pig?

Guinea pig sleeping habits depend on various factors.

Two of the most important factors are the environment and predatory status.

Environment

Like other animals, guinea pigs also adapt their sleeping behavior to their environment and the climate.

In a hot environment, animals usually sleep during the day to conserve energy.

At twilight, or during the night, they become active and look for food.

In cooler climates, most animals will be active during the day and will sleep at night.

Guinea pigs enjoy normal room temperature.

Predatory status

All animals have different sleeping patterns.

These patterns differ, depending on the fact whether they are predators or prey.

The predators of guinea pigs are birds of prey, cats, wolves, snakes, and coyotes.

For that reason, guinea pigs in the wild didn’t go outside when their predators were awake.

Their alertness to danger and predators has developed so much that it has become a part of their instinct and normal behavior even in captivity.

That is also the reason why a guinea pig will react to any sudden movement and noise.

Likewise, this is also the reason why every guinea pig will sleep for only a short period of time while still being alert to its surroundings.

How Long Does a Guinea Pig Sleep?

A guinea pig sleeps in short intervals and only spends a total of 4 to 6 hours of sleep each day.

Every guinea pig is different and some might sleep a little bit more when adjusted to their surroundings.

Nonetheless, a guinea pig will still sleep a few minutes at a time.

The intervals of sleep in guinea pigs range from a few seconds to 10 minutes.

They might have longer sleeping intervals that can last up to 30 minutes.

These sleeping intervals are rare and happen when guinea pigs are completely relaxed in their environment.

Young guinea pigs sleep at shorter intervals compared to adult guinea pigs.

Moreover, older guinea pigs are used to their surroundings so they don’t feel the same need to always be on alert.

According to estimates, it takes 4 years for guinea pigs to sleep better and more often.

It is important to note that, if the guinea pig is sleeping more than usual, it indicates that it is not active enough, which can be a sign of illness or an unhealthy diet.

Likewise, guinea pigs should take a lot of vitamin C, and if they don’t eat a proper amount of food that contains sufficient amounts of vitamin C, they can get scurvy.

In this condition, taking them to the vet is the best thing you can do.

How to Know When a Guinea Pig is Asleep?

Guinea pigs need sleep to rest their bodies and replenish the lost energy.

And, as crepuscular animals, they sleep a little during the day and a bit over the night.

Research studies suggest that the variation in sleeping habits has a lot to do with the metabolic rates of animals.

Rodents like rats, mice, and even guinea pigs have fast metabolisms.

They never sleep too long and never sleep with their eyes closed.

Therefore, you can notice your guinea pig sleeping only because it calms down and stops all activity.

Some guinea pigs will head to their huts, and others will find a secluded corner in their habitat.

Your guinea pig might be still with its legs on the sides.

Also, notice that if your guinea pig doesn’t pay attention to human activities, it means your pet is most likely in deep sleep.

Should I Cover a Sleeping Guinea Pig?

No, you should never cover your guinea pigs.

However, if you have other pets that might startle your guinea pigs, you might want to cover their enclosure at night but leave enough room for ventilation.

Never cover your guinea pigs’ cage entirely.

If you want to train your pets to sleep or rest at night, then it’s a good idea to cover their habitat around the same time each night to signal sleep time.

Are Guinea Pigs Loud at Night?

Any person who has a guinea pig knows that guinea pigs always want to play and that they are active almost the whole day.

They are most active at dusk, dawn, and during the day.

However, they can be active at night as well, but they do not make much noise, although they might be moving around.

Besides, if you own more than one guinea pig, you know that they make sounds when they talk to each other.

If your guinea pig is loud at night, that can be a sign that something is wrong.

Every day you should be checking on your pet a few times a day to make sure that it has a good place to sleep and that there’s enough water and food in the cage.

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Last update on 2021-09-11 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Final Thoughts

In this article, we have explained that guinea pigs are crepuscular animals.

Thus, they never sleep through the day or night because they were prey animals in the wild.

To protect themselves, they adapted their sleep patterns and sleep for a very short time throughout the whole day and night.

That is why you might not notice your guinea pigs sleeping.

In some cases, guinea pigs might be more active at night, or vice versa.

Many of your guinea pig’s habits and patterns are unique.

As a domesticated animal that lives with you, your guinea pig has also learned to adapt to your schedule and is active the most when you are around being active as well.

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