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How Long Do Guinea Pigs Sleep? More Than You Think!

Tim Rhodes
Written by Tim Rhodes Last Updated: Aug 1, 2022

How long do guinea pigs sleep?

Guinea pigs sleep between 4 and 6 hours every day, by frequently dozing off for 10 to 30 minutes at a time, both during the day and at night.

These small pets, guinea pigs, have an odd sleeping habit, and new pet owners find themselves wondering when their furry friends sleep.

Let’s see what are the reasons behind such a strange guinea pig sleeping pattern and learn many other interesting things about guinea pig sleep. 

Why Do Guinea Pigs Have a Strange Sleeping Pattern?

Some people believe that their strange sleeping pattern is because guinea pigs are nocturnal animals.

Other people believe that guinea pigs never sleep because they’ve never seen them with their eyes closed.

That’s not true because guinea piggies are crepuscular animals, meaning that they are most active during twilight hours.

Others believe that it is because guinea pigs are prey animals, and they need to be constantly alert to avoid being eaten by predators.

While there is no definitive answer to this question, it is clear that guinea pigs have evolved a unique sleep pattern that helps them survive in the wild.

Do Guinea Pigs Sleep With Their Eyes Open?

Guinea pigs typically sleep with their eyes wide open, and they may snore or make other noises as they sleep.

Apart from their unusual sleeping patterns when compared to other rodents, guinea pigs have several other features that aren’t strictly designated for them.

Different animals have different sleeping routines.

For example, scientists have documented cases of birds remaining in the air for more than 6 months, which means they must feed, sleep, and drink while flying through the skies!

Guinea pigs, like many other animals, sleep with their eyes open and take brief naps.

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

Why Do Guinea Pigs Sleep With Their Eyes Open?

One of the most puzzling behaviors guinea pigs exhibit is their propensity to sleep with their eyes wide open.

This behavior has been observed in both wild and domestic guinea pigs and there doesn’t seem to be one definitive answer as to why they do it.

Guinea Pigs Are Prey Animals

Guinea pigs are light sleepers because they are prey animals at the bottom of the food chain.

As prey animals, guinea pigs are naturally cautious and always aware of their surroundings.

For this reason, they don’t typically sleep for long periods of time.

While guinea pigs in captivity may sleep a little longer than those in the wild, they generally still get less sleep than other common pet animals like dogs and cats.

This is likely because they don’t have to worry about being hunted by predators.

They must conceal and flee from prospective predators anytime they detect them, thus they must remain vigilant at all times to avoid being eaten.

As a result, it appears that the underlying reason for their odd sleeping patterns is to allow them to stay vigilant in case a dangerous predator lurks nearby.

Thus, they gained the ability to sleep for brief periods while keeping their eyes open.

So if you’re ever lucky enough to witness a sleeping guinea pig with its eyes open, take a moment to appreciate this quirky and unique behavior.

Nonetheless, while most guinea pigs sleep with their eyes open, some guinea pigs close their eyes while taking a short nap.

Most guinea pigs close their eyes when they feel extremely comfortable in their habitat.

As a guinea pig nap doesn’t last long, you may not even notice the moment when your guinea pig closes its eyes, especially as these small animals don’t have obvious sleeping patterns.

In the next moment, your pet may be up and about.

Of course, there aren’t any harmful creatures in your house that could harm your guinea pigs.

That’s why most guinea pigs learn to relax and take longer naps in captivity than they would in their natural habitat in the wild.

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

And, if your guinea pig sleeps for a few minutes longer than an average guinea pig, it’s simply a sign that they feel safe and secure.

Can Guinea Pigs Close Their Eyes?

Although you cannot see your guinea pig’s eyelids, these small animals have eyelids that they use to blink and close their eyes.

Guinea pigs can close their eyes if they feel like it; they don’t have to keep them open all the time!

Every guinea pig blinks when they need to keep out dust and dirt.

They rapidly blink and close their eyelids over the eyeballs to protect them from getting injured or becoming dirty.

If a guinea pig’s eyelids are irritated by unclean or sharp bedding, they might become inflamed.

The infection causes the eyelid to swell and become highly noticeable.

When Do Guinea Pigs Sleep?

Whenever you check on your guinea pig, you see your furry friend rummaging all night.

Besides, every time you glance at its cage, you notice this small animal lively and curious.

It seems like you cannot find your guinea pig asleep!

Naturally, you’ll begin to worry whether your new pet guinea pig sleeps at all, particularly whether it sleeps at night.

Guinea pigs sleep throughout the whole day in short intervals that range anywhere between 10 to 30 minutes.

A guinea pig is not a nocturnal animal, but it can be active at night.

Nocturnal activity in guinea pigs can include eating, playing, and exploring their surroundings. 

Yet, guinea pigs are not nocturnal animals.

Guinea pigs are crepuscular animals, which means that they are most active at dawn and dusk.

Guinea pigs are social animals.

Thus, as social animals, in the wild, guinea pigs live in colonies and sleep together in one big pile.

However, in captivity, a guinea pig typically prefers to sleep alone or with its partner.

If you have more than one guinea pig, you might notice more of them is still, while at least one guinea pig continues to explore its surrounding.

Also, you may notice that they often sleep in the same spot together.

This is because they feel safe and comfortable when they are close to one another.

Also, in the wild, someone always had to stay alert to keep guard and warn the other guinea pigs in case a predator approached.

Despite being at home, safe in its cage, as a prey animal, every little guinea pig prefers to avoid being seen by potential predators.

Prey animals are at the bottom of the food chain and they developed their senses and habits that allow them to quickly escape when predators are near.

To learn more about guinea pig sleep and the biological processes that regulate the sleep of guinea pigs and humans, check out our article “Do Guinea Pigs Sleep“?

How Long Do Guinea Pigs Sleep?

On average, a guinea pig’s sleep lasts between 6 to 8 hours per day, and they usually sleep with their eyes open.

These small animals differ from many other rodents.

There’s a reason why guinea pigs don’t have a regular sleep pattern but sleep for short periods throughout the day and night, with one nap lasting from ten to 30 minutes.

When you’d add up all the time you’d catch your guinea pig sleeping, you’d see that a guinea pig needs between 4 and 6 hours of sleep.

However, the amount of sleep a guinea pig needs can vary depending on their age, health, and how active they are.

A young guinea pig needs more sleep than an older one, and a healthy guinea pig generally requires less sleep than the one who is sick.

Active guinea pigs may sleep for shorter periods than those who are less active.

Therefore, different animals and different guinea pigs have different sleeping habits.

Nevertheless, it is debatable what particular sleeping behaviors are “healthy” for guinea pigs.

As a guinea pig owner, provide your pet with a hiding place in its cage and soft paper bedding in which they can burrow.

Guinea pigs love to burrow!

Also, most pet shops sell hideouts and tunnels for guinea pigs and other rodents.

That way, you will ensure that your pet has a good place to sleep in and get enough rest.

Do Guinea Pigs Sleep at Night?

Most guinea pig owners may be wondering if their guinea pig sleeps at night.

So, are guinea pigs nocturnal animals?

Guinea pigs are not typical nocturnal animals, but they can exhibit some nocturnal behaviors.

Every guinea pig sleeps at night, but they don’t stay asleep for the entire night.

Nonetheless, some guinea pigs may be more active at night than during the day.

Some guinea pigs may also choose to sleep in a dark, quiet place during the day and become more active at night.

Guinea pigs are crepuscular animals

Crepuscular animals are more active during the twilight hours of dawn and dusk.

This is likely because these times of day offer a mix of light and darkness, which can be comfortable for them.

Some guinea pigs may become more active at night due to their environment or changes in their routine.

For example, if you work during the day and your guinea pig is used to seeing you during that time, it may become more active at night when you’re home.

Also, if your guinea pig is left alone all day, it may become more active at night as a way of seeking attention.

No matter what time of day it is, you should always provide your guinea pig with enough hay, food, water, and a safe place to play and relax.

How Do Guinea Pigs Sleep?

Unlike humans, cats and dogs, guinea pigs don’t sleep for hours at a time.

That’s why you might have never seen your guinea pig sleeping.

However, just like humans do, guinea pigs have a sleep pattern or sleep phases: REM (rapid eye movement) and non-REM.

During REM sleep, the brain is very active and the eyes move back and forth quickly.

This type of sleep is associated with dreaming.

Non-REM sleep is less active and is when the body repairs muscle tissue and consolidates memories.

When guinea pigs first fall asleep, they often enter REM sleep.

As they continue to relax, they slowly enter into non-REM sleep.

Your pet can wake up briefly after each cycle of REM and non-REM sleep but eventually spend more time in the deep non-REM stage.

This allows their bodies to get the most restful sleep possible!

What if My Guinea Pig Seems to Sleep Too Much?

Unlike other pets that we commonly keep, such as cats and dogs, guinea pigs are naturally crepuscular, which means they are most active in the early morning and evening.

If your pet sleeps more than usual, it could be a sign that he or she isn’t feeling well.

Common health issues that can cause excessive sleepiness in guinea pigs:

  • Dehydration
  • Anemia
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Cancer
  • Heart disease

If you think your pet may be ill, take him or her to a vet immediately for a diagnosis.

Treatment will depend on the underlying cause of the problem.

In some cases, medication may be necessary to help your guinea pig feel better.

You can help keep your guinea pig sleep well by providing a nutritious diet and plenty of fresh water, and by keeping his or her living environment clean and comfortable, mimicking its natural habitat as much as possible.

Why Do Guinea Pigs Have a Strange Sleeping Pattern?

The most curious things about guinea pigs are their sleep patterns.

Their sleeping behavior is quite different from most other small pets.

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

That’s why guinea pigs are crepuscular animals and they are awake when most other animals are sleeping.

This means that they are naturally more active during the twilight – in the morning and evening.

So why do guinea pigs have this weird sleeping behavior?

But guinea pigs also have another weird sleeping habit: polyphasic sleep.

Scientists aren’t quite sure, but there are a few possible explanations. Apart from being prey animals, one theory suggests that polyphasic sleep helps guinea pigs conserve energy.

By taking multiple short naps, they don’t need to spend as much time sleeping overall, and they can be more active during the day.

Another possibility is that polyphasic sleep helps guinea pigs stay alert and aware of their surroundings.

Do Guinea Pigs Dream?

Do guinea pigs dream is a question that has long been debated by pet owners and experts alike.

Some people believe that guinea pigs do not dream, while others are convinced that they do. So what is the answer?

There is no definitive answer to this question, as there is little scientific evidence to support either side of the argument.

However, some experts believe that guinea pigs do dream, based on their observed behavior and the fact that they experience REM sleep – the stage of sleep in which most dreaming occurs.

Final Thoughts

Guinea pig sleeping habits are quite odd, so you might have never seen your guinea pig sleeping.

Besides, you might have a feeling that there’s always some activity going on in your guinea pig’s cage.

A healthy guinea pig takes short naps that usually last around 10-20 minutes.

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

To get enough sleep, guinea pigs need between 4 and 6 hours a day of good rest.

Do guinea pigs dream? There’s no definitive answer to that question, but it’s possible that they do.

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 2022-08-08 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API