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Do Guinea Pigs Sleep With Their Eyes Open?

Tim Rhodes
Written by Tim Rhodes Last Updated: March 24, 2022

Are you wondering if the reason why you’ve never caught your pet sleeping is that guinea pigs sleep with their eyes open?

If that’s the case, you are right, as it is really hard to catch a guinea pig asleep.

Guinea pigs normally sleep with their eyes wide open because, in the wild, a potential predator was always lurking around them. To stay alert and escape danger, guinea pigs developed the ability to sleep with their eyes open. Guinea pigs close their eyes rarely and they seldom blink.

Besides, guinea pigs have a 340-degree vision, which was very useful for survival in the mountains and grasslands of South American countries from which they originate: Peru, Argentina, Brazil, and Uruguay. 

Despite the degree of their eyesight, guinea pigs have poor vision.

They can see well only between 3 and 5 feet away before all starts becoming blurry for them.

Still, apart from the well-developed senses of hearing and smell, their great spatial memory allows them to move around even in the dark.

Yet, sometimes, a guinea pig might feel safe, peaceful, and relaxed that it can briefly close its eyes and enjoy the moment.

Why Do Guinea Pigs Sleep With Their Eyes Open?

The shape of an animal’s eyes reveals whether an animal is a predator or prey and what is its place in the food chain.

Guinea pig’s eyes are located at the side of the head, which allows these small animals to have 340-degree eyesight.

Yet, despite such a large range of vision, guinea pigs, as prey animals, were in danger whenever they closed their eyes.

As a matter of fact, guinea pigs rarely close their eyes, even to blink.

In their natural habitat of South American mountains and steppes, they were on the bottom of the food chain and served as food for other animals.

And that’s why, as prey animals, guinea pigs developed an odd sleeping habit and sleep differently compared to many other pets we normally have as part of our families.

That’s also why guinea pigs rarely close their eyes and blink only when they need to moisten their eyes or clear a bit of dust.

In other words, not only you will have a hard time catching your guinea pig sleeping, but will also have a hard time catching your guinea pig blink!

If you decide to engage in a staring contest with your piggy, what do you think, who would win?

Undoubtedly, your guinea pig would take the title, as you’d have to blink many times before you’d see your guinea pig blink.

Guinea Pig Vision

Guinea pigs can see in color and can also see 33 images per second (while humans can only see 22).

Even having a wide field of vision would be useless if guinea pigs didn’t keep their eyes open.

A guinea pig could suddenly become prey just by closing its eyes for a split of a second.

So, their instinct tells them that the more their eyes are open the safer they are 

When you’re dealing with predators as fast as hawks, it only takes a fraction of a second to switch from leading a happy and quiet existence to being someone’s meal.

We don’t have to deal with many animals that are the same size as us, and we only have to deal with animals that are larger than us once in a while.

Guinea pigs, on the other hand, are the polar opposite of most other animals since they are so little.

Many behaviors, including guinea pig sleep habits, can be explained in this way.

How Do Guinea Pigs Sleep?

While most guinea pigs sleep with their eyes open, some guinea pigs sleep with their eyes closed when they are completely at ease in their environment.

In captivity, a guinea pig’s short nap might last anywhere from ten to thirty minutes.

Naturally, there are no dangerous animals in your home that could hurt your guinea pigs.

Because guinea pig naps are brief, you may miss the moment when your guinea pig closes its eyes, especially since these small animals have no discernible sleeping routines.

Yet, in confinement, many guinea pigs learn to relax and sleep for longer periods than they would in the wild.

And, if a guinea pig owner catches a guinea pig sleeping longer, possibly with its eyes closed, it can be a sign that your furry friend feels safe in its habitat.

Likewise, you might catch your pet lying on the side, possibly even closing their eyes.

In that case, you should know that your pets feel safe and comfortable.

Do Guinea Pigs Sleep?

Guinea pigs sleep in short naps and, by doing so, they accumulate up to between 4 and 6 hours of sleep.

Some guinea pigs sleep as long as 8 hours every day, but each time in these short intervals, naps.

The longest nap these small animals take varies from 10 to 30 minutes.

And, as guinea pigs are active at night, many people think that guinea pigs have night vision.

Still, that’s not true.

Even with all the advantages of guinea pig eyes, their depth perception is rather poor, which means that guinea pigs don’t see very far.

Another reason they developed to rely on their senses of smell and hearing is because of this.

Even when they are living with you, in their own habitat, in peace, guinea pigs need to stay alert because of the potential predators lurking around.

Don’t take it personally; it’s just a part of their nature.

Guinea pigs’ wide eyes allow visual information to remain a part of their awareness while they sleep, allowing them to react to changes in the environment faster than other animals.

Are Guinea Pigs Unique in the Way They Sleep?

Different animals have different sleeping routines but guinea pigs are not unique in the way they sleep.

When you consider all of the living things on our planet, you’ll notice that many of them don’t have eyes that work in the same way that ours do.

Although few animals sleep with their eyes open like guinea pigs, mammals make up only a small percentage of the world’s species.

To begin with, insects are among the most prevalent living things on the earth, and they lack eyelids.

You’ll also discover that fish don’t have eyelids either and also sleep with their eyes open.

Also, scientists found that some birds remained in the air for over 6 months, so they had to feed, sleep, and drink while flying.

After all, we may need to blink when our eyes begin to feel dry, but no fish will ever have that problem.

Just like many other small animals, guinea pigs normally sleep with their eyes open and take only short naps.

Other species, on the other hand, sleep with one eye open or both eyes closed.

So, while guinea pig behavior may appear strange to us as humans, other animals, fish, and insects would most likely agree that humans are strange to them.

They’d be astounded that a species could close itself off from the deadly world around them completely every night, unable to react quickly in the event of an imminent threat.

What Does It Mean When a Guinea Pig Sleeps With Its Eyes Closed?

If you can’t catch your guinea pig with its eyes closed, don’t worry.

Your pet still might feel happy and comfortable around you and continue sleeping with open eyes, just because it’s it is natural and easy for this small animal.

A guinea pig can get just enough sleep with its eyes open and stay healthy and energized.

We might have difficulty understanding prey animals such as guinea pigs.

Your guinea pig may have its eyes open the majority of the time, but if you can make him feel comfortable around you, you’ll have a lot more affectionate and gratifying connection with him.

So there’s no need to be concerned if your guinea pig appears to be sleeping with its eyes open.

But, if you get to the stage of relaxation and deep trust, also don’t be alarmed but compliment yourself on it.

When Do Guinea Pigs Sleep?

Every time you check on your guinea pig and you look at its cage, you notice how alive and curious this small animal is.

Naturally, you’ll be concerned about whether your new pet guinea pig sleeps at all, especially at night.

Guinea pigs sleep in brief periods of 10 to 30 minutes during the day.

Although guinea pigs are not nocturnal animals, they can be active at night.

Eating, playing, and exploring their surroundings are all common nocturnal activities for guinea pigs.

Guinea pigs, on the other hand, are not nocturnal but crepuscular animals.

They are most active during early morning and night, at twilight.

Also, as highly social small animals, in the wild, guinea pigs lived in colonies and slept together.

In captivity, though, guinea pigs usually prefer to sleep alone or with their companion.

If you have more than one guinea pig, you may see that some are motionless while others continue to investigate their surroundings.

You may also note that they frequently sleep in the same spot in their cage.

This is because being near to one another makes them feel protected and secure.

In the wild, someone had to always be on the lookout and notify other guinea pigs if a predator approached.

As a prey animal, every small guinea pig seeks to avoid being spotted by a potential predator, even when this small animal is at home, safe in the cage.

Prey animals are at the bottom of the food chain, and their senses and habits have evolved to allow them to flee swiftly from predators.

The biological processes that regulate sleep are complex and we have covered some of the important aspects of it in our article “Do Guinea Pigs Sleep?

In it, we explain when your guinea pigs fall asleep and which processes regulate their sleeping patterns.

Check it out!

How Long Do Guinea Pigs Sleep?

On average, a guinea pig sleeps for 6 to 8 hours per day, and they usually sleep with their eyes open.

These little cavies are not like other rodents.

There’s a reason why guinea pigs don’t sleep according to a regular schedule and instead sleep for short durations throughout the day and night.

One guinea pig nap lasts between ten and thirty minutes.

When you total up the amount of time you catch your guinea pig napping, you’ll find that it requires between 4 and 6 hours of sleep.

The quantity of sleep a guinea pig requires varies depending on their age, health, and level of activity.

A young guinea pig needs more sleep compared to an adult guinea pig, and a healthy guinea pig requires less sleep.

Which sleeping habits are “good” for guinea pigs remains questionable.

Make sure your pet has a hiding spot in their cage and soft paper bedding to burrow in.

Guinea pigs love burrowing in their bedding and hiding in their tunnels and hideouts.

Most pet stores sell toys and accessories such as hideouts, beds, ramps, and other cute little things to keep your pet occupied.

Why Do Guinea Pigs Have a Strange Sleeping Pattern?

The sleeping behavior of guinea pigs is entirely different compared to other small pets.

In the wild, guinea pigs spent their whole life running away from potential predators and couldn’t develop regular sleep patterns.

That is why guinea pigs are most active during twilight, at dusk, and down, as that’s the time when most large animals are sleeping.

But guinea pigs also have another strange characteristic called polyphasic sleep.

Scientists have a few possible explanations for polyphasic sleep in guinea pigs.

According to one explanation, this is because guinea pigs are prey animals.

The other explanation refers to the role of polyphasic sleep in conserving energy.

Finally, there’s the possibility that polyphasic sleep helps guinea pigs stay attentive and conscious of their surroundings.

Do Guinea Pigs Dream?

Pet owners and experts alike have been wondering whether guinea pigs dream.

There is no definitive answer to this question, as there is little scientific evidence to come to a definite conclusion.

Many scientists and guinea pig owners believe that it is highly likely that guinea pigs dream (even with their eyes open) because they experience REM sleep.

Most of our dreams occur during REM sleep, so that might be the case with piggies as well.

Also, such a belief comes based on their observed behavior.

Unfortunately, to solve this dilemma, we cannot just ask our piggies if they slept well so we may never have an actual answer to this question.

Final Thoughts

Guinea pig sleeping habits are quite odd when compared to the sleeping habits of most other species and pets we commonly keep such as cats and dogs.

That is why many guinea pig owners cannot catch their guinea pig pets sleeping, although these small animals need to sleep between 4 and 6 hours a day to stay healthy.

It is normal behavior for a healthy guinea pig to sleep with its eyes wide open and take short naps that usually last around 10-20 minutes.

Some guinea pigs take a longer nap, for about 30 minutes.

So, regardless of the impression that there’s always some activity going on in the guinea pig’s cage, don’t worry.

Now, as a new guinea pig owner, you know that your guinea pig’s behavior is not unusual.

Your guinea pig gets as much sleep as it needs, even if it’s with its eyes wide open.

Author

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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Last update on 2022-11-23 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API