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Can Guinea Pigs See In The Dark? Do They Need Light At Night?

Tim Rhodes
Written by Tim Rhodes Last Updated: September 11, 2021

Since guinea pigs’ areas are active during the night as much as they are during the day, do they need light at night, or can guinea pigs see in the dark?

There were a lot of questions irking my mind so I did some research as a curious guinea pig owner, and here’s what I discovered.

Guinea pig vision in the dark is poor; however, these small animals can still move around their habitat without any problems at all.

It’s possible because they have a sharp memory, and they can remember passageways, routes, etc., incredibly well.

Most investigators also point out that their impressive sense of smell, as well as outstanding hearing ability, helps them navigate through the night.

Do Guinea Pigs Need Light at Night?

No, guinea pigs don’t need night light during although they can’t see in the dark.

Their senses and sharp memory allow them to move around without any problems.

Having more light on during the dark can distract their body clock with the fact that it’s still a daytime, which can be harmful to their health.

However, many people leave a small light on in their room, but it is certainly not necessary.

You may choose to do as you feel right about it.

The activity of Guinea pigs during the night

If you’ve ever been woken up in the night because your guinea pigs were playing or chatting in their cage, you’ll no doubt be conscious that cavies can be active at any hour of the day or night.

This triggers some owners to doubt whether they should let their guinea pigs light up overnight.

It also leads to a far more puzzling question: can guinea pigs see in the dark?

Guinea pig sleeping patterns and aspects we know about their daytime perception and other senses indicate that they must have some kind of night vision.

Still, there is no real scientific proof of this.

Let’s take a closer look at what we know about the sense of sight of guinea pigs, and the factors that suggest they can see at some level in the dark.

Is a Guinea Pig’s Vision Equally Good at Night and Day?

Guinea pigs don’t have a particularly good vision, but they do have some important skills to help them get around.

One of the major characteristics of your pet’s sense of vision is that these cavies have an estimated 340-degree field of vision, which is unarguably impressive.

The placement of a guinea pig’s eyes allows them to see motion from all angles, which was very useful for them while they lived in the wild because they were prey animals.

The wide angle of their vision allowed them to notice predators and hide.

Guinea pigs can also see in color, and they can actually see more images per second compared to humans.

However, guinea pig’s eyesight is not great and many would say that guinea pigs have poor eyesight.

The main reason for such a claim is that guinea pigs have poor depth perception but they can focus on their great sense of hearing and smell and particular skills to get around.

How Do Guinea Pigs Navigate at Night?

If guinea pigs have a wide-screen view of the world and a poor perception of depth, how do they move around without bumping into things and tripping all the time?

Well, they’ve got a couple of tricks up their sleeve.

One of the key anatomical features is the cute little whiskers on your guinea pig’s face.

Known as vibrates, these hair are more than just adorable.

In fact, they’re thought to help your guinea pig measure distances and also get their bearings in a variety of light conditions.

Cavies have a relatively sophisticated sense of smell and listening to that is not too distinct to our own, so this can also help notify them of imminent danger.

Do Guinea Pigs Have a Good Spatial Memory?

Finally, guinea pigs are also considered good at spatial memory, which means they have the ability to remember where things are and which paths to take.

In other words, they’ve got a good sense of position.

Their capabilities of memory may vary, but what we notice is that guinea pigs have outstanding spatial memory.

They may not remember your birthday or celebration, but the routes and the paths stick in their minds like the resin.

Do Guinea Pigs Prefer Dark?

Guinea pigs favor staying in the dark during the night.

See, you need to know that guinea pigs are prey animals, and they’re constantly trying to look for predatory animals and hide.

So, having a pitch dark environment helps them calm down their stress and calm for some time as they feel a little more secure in the dark.

Guinea pigs have a fairly wider understanding, but a poor perception of depth.

That’s one of the purposes for their poor vision.

If you’ve ever tried to lift them without having a solid surface under their feet, you might have noticed that they’re going to get stressed out of fear.

That’s because there’s no awareness of depth in them.

They cannot evaluate the distance and the height as precisely as we can.

They have an incredible memory, however, which enables them to resolve this obstacle.

In the wild guinea pigs, they run through passageways and grasses to reach their places to hide and their meals.

Even though the predator is trying to chase them, they can move around rather quickly, as they can recognize the paths and destinations very well.

The same trick helps them navigate through their cage, even in the dark.

Therefore, poor depth perception doesn’t play a role as these small animals can find their way around their habitat.

They also have a good hearing and scent ability to help move around the space.

Guinea pigs’ senses

Humans rely on sight more than any other sense.

In the dark, we are quite worthless.

Guinea pigs’ sense of smell

We still have our other senses, but we do not tend to depend on them in the same way that we do depend on our eyes.

If you lost your sense of smell, you might miss the smell of a freshly cooked pie.

But, you’d still be able to get across the world.

The case is far different for guinea pigs.

They’ve got a super-sharp hearing, a lot more than a human.

Their sense of smell is also very developed.

With these other heightened senses, they tend to rely less on vision.

Often they don’t really need to see the spot, to navigate around at night.

Guinea pig sense of hearing

Guinea pigs have a very good sense of hearing.

They can recognize higher frequencies than humans.

It’s a unique trait that not only enables them to find orientation but also keeps them well informed of the surrounding environment and threats.

However, if you have some loud sound in your house where your guinea pigs are housed, they might get stressed out because of the same thing.

Guinea pigs’ vision

Guinea pigs are herd animals, meaning that they must always be on the prowl for predators in the wild.

This spurred their unique visual and facial configuration.

Guinea pigs can see their environment without moving their eyes.

They have approximately 340 degrees of vision and can witness almost anything that is going on all around them.

This characteristic provided them well in the open ocean, as it allowed them to keep a closer eye out for predators at all times.

For the same reason, the guineas keep their eyes open almost all the time – even while they are asleep.


Let’s go back a moment to a sense that makes guinea pigs particularly unique: touch.

We don’t talk about feeling objects with their fangs, though.

Instead, let’s look at what we might even perceive as the superpower of a guinea pig: about their whiskers.

To us, the whiskers of a guinea pig might look like nothing more than an adorable little mustache.

But the fact is that these feathers are called vibrissae.

Guinea pigs use them to feel the universe around them.

They actually feel the world with their muzzle tresses!

Using these hairs, they can measure the diameter of the openings and the shape of the path in front of them.

So, even in the dark, they’re never going to lose navigation.

Why Guinea Pigs Can Navigate in the Dark?

This possibility is what makes it extremely hard to determine how often guinea pigs can see in the dark.

They seem to be able to progress around with ease in the dark.

They don’t get lost, and they don’t bump into anything.

The same could hardly be said of their human companions.

Aim to make it to your kitchen with no light on your phone, and you’ll end up with blistered shines.

And this is the best scenario.

Guinea pigs’ Startling

Guinea pigs are defined to be easily startled.

But this is far more out of disposition than any sense of abnormality.

Peaceful and relaxed surroundings are what a guinea pig wants.

And the moment peace is upended, they’re not going to be happy about it.

We think we can confidently conclude that this doesn’t mean anything about the senses of a guinea pig or a night vision.

After all, if the door is slammed, we’re going to flip out as well, even though our listening is just fine.

Do Guinea Pigs Like Sleeping in the Dark?

Yes, guinea pigs definitely love to sleep in the dark.

Guinea pigs are crepuscular animals and generally sleep in small paces of 3-10 minutes.

However, if you can give them a dark and quiet environment, they feel much more secure and can take a longer nap than they take during the day.

When Do Guinea Pigs Sleep?

Guinea pigs sleep both during the day and night.

They sleep briefly, in very short intervals, so often you won’t know that your pet is sleeping. 

If you’ve ever observed your guinea pig well, you’ll find that they’re going to move to the darker part of the cage or snuggle inside the bedding or sanctuary before they go for a nap.

This is their natural behavior as they feel safer this way.

Are Guinea Pigs Nocturnal?

Not all animals sleep soundly at night, so it’s good to know if guinea pigs are nocturnal.

Guinea pigs are unique in that they are technically active at night, but not purely at night.

Instead, their sleeping pattern consists of tinier rests spread throughout the day and night.

Simply put, guinea pig doesn’t “go off to bed” as we do, but rather takes a snooze, no matter if the sun is up or not.

But this complicates the issue because it means that nocturnal animals are not active during the day.

That’s true, but what we need to recognize is there’s another category.

Concerning nocturnal and diurnal animals (active during the day), there are also crepuscular animals.

If guinea pig seems to be much more nocturnal than at daytime, or vice versa, it doesn’t necessarily mean that something is wrong.

If you consider the way your cat snoozes, you’ll likely consider all the “cat nap” that your kitten takes.

Guinea pigs snooze this very same way, and like your cat, they cover a substantial portion of those naps in the evening.

Since guinea pigs have adapted their sleep schedules to their human companions, it makes sense, of course, that your piggy gets most of his sleep every night.

During the day and night, your rodent friend will go through periods of sleepy restfulness, and periods of effective wakefulness.

The restful cycles will matter how long at night.

Usually, this is when your guinea pig falls into his daily Sleep phase hour.

Deep sleep is extremely important to all animals because it is when the body can recover.

Do Guinea Pigs Have a Sleep Pattern?

No, guinea pigs don’t have a sleep pattern.

They sleep throughout the night and day when they need to.

Yes, the deviations are all right and to be expected.

After all, every guinea pig is distinctive.

But, it’s necessary to learn the characteristic functions of your guinea pig’s sleep.

If they’re having sudden changes in their sleep schedules, this might be a warning that they’re not feeling well.

Things to watch out for include:

  • Transformations in sleeping stance
  • An additional variable of restlessness
  • Elevated heart rates
  • Reduced day-time interaction;

Some Fun Facts about Guinea Pig Sleep

Guinea pigs sleep just for a short time.

They mostly sleep with open eyes.

Sleeping with closed eyes indicates a sign of trust.

Guinea pigs are gorgeous pets with gentle and friendly behaviors.

Their compassionate nature and adorable faces can make everyone feel good after a hard day.

You might have observed that your guinea pig seems to always be awake, ready to welcome you.

In fact, it may seem that your pet is not sleeping at all.

But guinea pigs get a lot of rest, maybe you don’t notice it.

Sleep is essential for all mammals, sleeps patterns and needs vary widely across species.

In fact, the term “widely varies” is very exaggerated.

Research indicates that this variance has a lot to do with the different metabolic rate changes and energy reserves of animals.

For instance, since humans have a modest metabolism and energy-saving ability, they feel like dab in the center of mammalian sleep wants about nine hours a night.

Rodents like rats, mice, and even guinea pigs have a high metabolism and use a great deal of energy.

Do Guinea Pigs Like Darkness?

Yes, as the especially at night antics of your cavy would suggest, guinea pigs like the dark.

But it doesn’t assume they’re nocturnal animals.

In fact, guinea pigs are diurnal, which means they are most active in darkness.

So if your guinea pig enjoys playing and exploring after dark, there’s nothing unusual about that.

Do Guinea Pigs Need Light at Night?

You might be inclined to offer some kind of night light to your guinea pig to support them get around through the dark, but there’s no need for it.

As we have already established, guinea pigs seem more than capable of navigating through the darkness.

There is also a risk that keeping your pet’s cage lit all night could interrupt their standard rhythmic patterns and sleep patterns.

So think more carefully before providing your pet with night-time lighting.

Crepuscular Advantages for Guinea pigs

From a survival point of view, we can see how guinea pigs make sense of a crepuscular lifestyle.

These are small little organisms, and although they no longer live in the wild, their ancestors did.

Before humans domesticated guinea pigs, these little chaps had to be concerned about a suffocating climate and starving predators.

Being most active during dusk and dawn intended higher survival rates for these pre-guinea pigs.

The temperatures at sunrise and dawn are a happy medium.

The sun is not blistering above their heads, nor is the night in total disarray, terrifying them to their bones.

Also, there’s just enough light to feed the meals while still being eligible to get some added safety from dimmer lighting.

Other organisms, specifically predators, were also more probable to unwind their day or night at this time.

Being crepuscular meant that a guinea pig would be perfectly safe to wander as it delighted without worrying too much about having to run into a hungry creature.

While your house may not be a hive of threats to the guinea pig, its impulses remain.

This means that while you’re busy sleeping, they’re going to have periods of time all night when they’re going to be active.

Do Guinea Pigs See Colors?

Yes, research has established that guinea pigs see colors.

This means that they can see color, but probably not as well as humans can.

According to a 1994 study, guinea pigs have dichromatic color vision, which implies that they can see colors but cannot distinguish distinct shades of a color.

Final Thoughts

The next time you listen to your cavy whirring around in their enclosure at night, you can relax knowing that they probably don’t just stumble around utterly oblivious.

Guinea pigs are crepuscular animals, equally active during night and daytime.

Guinea pigs will likely be able to see to some extent in dark environments, but how much night vision they have is a matter of speculation.

And, with their other senses, such as their highly developed sense of hearing and sharp memory, they have a lot of sensations to support them get around.

So coming back to our question of can guinea pigs see in the dark, the answer is, they do not see clearly, but can surely navigate their way through their living area.

There’s no need to complain about the night vision capacities of your cavy.

Instead, let your furry friend enjoy their night-time explorations while you’re concentrating on getting back to sleep.


Tim Rhodes
Tim Rhodes

Hi there! My name is Tim Rhodes and I'm a guinea pig enthusiast through thick and thin. My mission is to teach others useful tips and tricks about these cute creatures. When I'm not writing, I enjoy kickboxing and work as an animal trainer.

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