Have you ever looked at your loveable little guinea pig, and found yourself asking when does it sleep? Well, you're not alone in asking that question. In fact, many cavy-owners find themselves thinking the same. It is natural to be curious about one's pet, after all. But, figuring out a cavy's sleeping habits is somewhat perplexing, and believe it or not, rife with debate. Do guinea pigs sleep, and how do you know when they sleep?
Apart from being tiny, furry grass-eaters, cavies also differ from humans in other aspects, such as catching z's. It's easy-peasy to tell if a human's asleep, but figuring out whether your guinea pig is asleep is another ballgame entirely. Then there's the question of how much sleep does your cavy need and whether it needs to sleep in the darkness or not?
Don't worry, though, because we're about to break down all there is to know about guinea pigs and sleep. All you have to do is keep reading to find out more.
Let's dive in
Do Guinea Pigs Close Their Eyes When They Sleep?
At this point, you're likely thinking about how you've rarely caught your cavy dosing. That's a valid point. If sleep is so essential to cavies, then how come you almost always see them scurrying around in their pet-habitats?
Did we mention that guinea pigs are fascinating animals? Because they truly are. Guinea pigs can and often do sleep with their eyes open, and that's the reason why you so seldom see your pet napping. As a matter of fact, cavies mostly catch z's with their tiny adorable eyes wide open.
Just like humans sleep with their eyes closed, guinea pigs are hard-wired by nature to sleep with their eyes open. All this has to do with the guinea pig's nature.
Rodents living in the wild, need to stay alert at all times to keep themselves safe from predators. That's why guinea pigs who belong to the rodent family, tend to nap with their eyes wide open.
And that's also why, like most people, you felt confused about your guinea pigs sleeping routine. It isn't that your furry friend is not sleeping, but that it's sleeping in a way that isn't like most other pets.
How Do You Know When A Guinea Pig Is Asleep?
Since cavies don't sleep with their eyes closed, you need to know some of the signs to be able to tell whether your cavy is dozing or merely staring into space. The first thing to give a napping guinea pig away is their stillness. If your cavy is still for more than 3 to 4 minutes, chances are it's napping.
You may be able to tell whether a guinea pig is sleeping or not by where they are in their cage. For instance, some cavies will head to their huts, and others will likely find some secluded corner in their pet-habitat. Another clue that can help you tell whether your cavy is sleeping is that they nap flopped down, with their legs on the sides.
Also, a sleeping cavy will pay no mind to any human activity happening nearby. But that's only if you're not making too much noise because guinea pigs have a highly developed sense of hearing.
How Much Sleep Does A Guinea Pig Need?
Since we've already covered why sleeping is important for cavies, let's get on to discussing how much sleep a guinea pig needs to stay fit and healthy.
A study done by the American Journal of Physiology revealed that guinea pigs could sleep at any time without any problems. Which means they're neither nocturnal nor diurnal. The same study also showed that guinea pigs need less sleep compared to other rodents.
Doctors of the National Academy of Sciences have stated that an animal's need for sleep is also related to its body size. That means the smaller the animal is, the more it needs to rest.
That's why mice, which are small, sleep for a total of 14 hours per day. Whereas, whales - the largest mammal on earth need only an average of 3 hours of sleep per day.
However, guinea pigs happen to be unique in the rodent family. With a lifespan of 6-8 years, a guinea pig can live a healthy life, on just 4 to 6 hours of sleep per day.
There's no optimum amount of sleep that a guinea pig needs, according to science. Some guinea pigs sleep for 4 hours a day, and others can sleep for up to 10 hours.
But remember that your guinea pig is going to cover that amount of sleeping time, in naps, taken at intervals throughout the day. Also, if you notice your cavy sleeping for longer than it usually does, along with a lack of appetite, then you need to take it to the vet to make sure it's not sick.
Do Guinea Pigs Sleep at Night or During the Day?
Guinea pigs might appear as carefree animals, in that they don't have a preferred sleeping time. But in truth, this habit of cavies ties in with their natural instincts. Guinea pigs are crepuscular animals, which means they're active at dawn and dusk.
Scientists have claimed that crepuscular animals behave in this way as a means of avoiding predators. Many other animals, such as rabbits and deers, have the same instincts.
Even when your pet is safe and warm in its enclosure, its instincts are working at full speed. In other words, your guinea pig can catch a wink at any time during the day or night. And this behavior is completely normal.
Do Guinea Pigs Like to Sleep in the Dark?
Whether or not your guinea likes to sleep in the dark depends on your pet. There's no set rule when it comes to the kind of conditions guinea pigs like to sleep in.
So, for example, some cavy-owners state that their pet is very active during the day, while others claim to hear the scurrying of little feet all night long.
However, because of their cautious nature, it can be said that a majority of guinea pigs will likely feel safe in the dark. You can tell if your pet enjoys staying in the dark by observing it.
For instance, if your cavy likes to hide in dark corners or prefers to stay out of direct sunlight, then it sounds like darkness is definitely your cavy's friend.
Do Guinea Pigs Need to Be Covered at Night?
Do guinea pigs really need to be covered at night? The answer is probably not.
However, if your cavies are startled by your other pets, then it is recommended that you cover their enclosure at night. But remember to leave some space for ventilation. Entirely covering their enclosure or cage can lead to suffocation.
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 sleepy time.