Are Guinea Pigs Nocturnal? | Guinea Pig Sleeping Habits

Are Guinea Pigs Nocturnal_

Guinea pigs are often full of energy during the day, but since most of us sleep at night, we wonder if they are nocturnal creatures because sometimes we can hear them making some noises.

Well, this answer is not that simple and we will use 3 different types of behavior patterns to explain this as simple as possible. After that, we are going to talk about guinea pig’s sleeping habits.

Are guinea pigs nocturnal? No, guinea pigs are not nocturnal and they aren’t even diurnal. Nocturnal animals are active only at night while they sleep during the day and vice versa diurnal animals are active during the day and sleep at night. Guinea pigs are crepuscular animals rather than a nocturnal or diurnal. Crepuscular animals are active at the time of the day just before the sun goes down, or just after the sun rises, when the light is not so bright. In short, guinea pigs are most active during dusk and dawn. Guinea pigs are active during the day, but they also take brakes for napping.

This is nothing new because many pets are like this, including dogs and cats. But you still probably wonder how your guinea pig spends their night while you hug your pillow and sleep?

Well, we’re going to examine their night behavior in this article, so be sure to put your guinea pig in your lap and read it out loud, so he can learn something new about himself. Let’s start!

Are Guinea Pigs Nocturnal?

Are Guinea Pigs Nocturnal

Since you asked if guinea pigs are nocturnal, we first need to delve deeper into this term. When we first mentioned this term, the first animal that you thought about was probably an owl. If you know how a typical owl behaves, you know that they usually hunt at night, as opposed to sleep.

Now, there are some animals that are a little bit active during the day and also throughout the night. These animals are neither nocturnal or diurnal.

While most nocturnal animals have their senses adapted to night time, some are functioning well in both conditions. The number one animal that can do both is a cat. They can successfully hunt during both the day and during the night.

It’s not strange that many nocturnal animals are actually the most dangerous creatures in the wilderness. Since in number there are less nocturnal than diurnal animals, the first ones have a drastic advantage at night.

Having in mind that most animals sleep during the night, nocturnal animals can freely exploit their predator instincts.


Are Guinea Pigs Diurnal?

Are Guinea Pigs Diurnal

But what about diurnal? Well, this is quite the opposite of nocturnality and this type of behavior is common with most animals. The most common diurnal animals include reptiles, birds, and mammals, although there are some exceptions with each animal type.

The interesting thing is that even plants can be, and in fact, they ARE diurnal, meaning that they open their flowers during the day and close them in the night.

Speaking of mammals, a chimpanzee is also a diurnal animal. The reason why we mentioned this animal is that it is well-known and we (people) share a lot of similarities between them. If you take a look at us, we do most of our activities during the day, while we sleep during the night.

When it comes to categorizing guinea pigs, it’s really hard to tell if they’re diurnal or nocturnal at least from the owner’s perspective but in the following section, we are going to explain in detail their crepuscular behavior.


Are Guinea Pigs Crepuscular?

Are Guinea Pigs Crepuscular

Animals which are neither nocturnal nor diurnal and animals that are primarily active during twilight (dusk and dawn) are called crepuscular animals. The word “crepuscular” is derived from the Latin word for “twilight.”

This is somewhere between diurnal and nocturnal behavior, where the animal is most active during some hours of daylight or some hours of darkness.

Scientists explained that crepuscular animals have adopted this behavior because it presents the best period of time for avoiding predators. They tend to lay low in the darker night-time and day-time hours when other predators are relaxing.

Guinea pigs are crepuscular or mostly active during twilight hours. Because of their domestication, they don’t prefer intense sunlight or total darkness. A lot of sunlight isn’t good for their health and guinea pigs tend to be very scary animals, so they also don’t feel safe in the dark.

They tend to be most active during the dusk and the dawn when it is harder for predators to spot them and this behavior is still present in domesticated guinea pigs.


Do Guinea Pigs Sleep?

Do Guinea Pigs Sleep

Guinea pigs are mammals, which tells us that they DO sleep. Sure, every mammal needs sleep, but sleeping patterns are vastly different between each species. Usually, the amount of sleep that guinea pig needs depends on its energy level, metabolism speed, and other, less important factors.

If we examine rodents like this one, we know that they have a FAST metabolism. It’s not strange that many animals of this type show a hyperactive behavior during the day.

There is a general rule when it comes to the required amount of sleep and it’s directly correlated with the speed of metabolism. So, where do guinea pigs rank?

Well, they need the same amount of sleep as humans! Isn’t it interesting? While bigger rodents like mice and rats usually sleep for more than 12 hours, guinea pigs can get enough sleep in 8 to 10 hours.

Now, that’s not a small number since most of us sleep 6 to 8 hours, depending on the day. A person who goes to school or work sleeps no more than 8 hours and guinea pigs, as you can see, love to sleep!


How Do Guinea Pigs Sleep?

Guinea pigs are masters of sleeping since they can do what people can’t. They can and they sleep with their eyes open. While they don’t always practice sleeping with open eyes, most of the time, they are able to ’steal’ some sleep while you don’t see.


This primal instinct comes with the need to remain alert in case of immediate danger. As you know, these rodents aren’t exactly prone to biting someone or fight and their primary instinct is to run when they see danger closing.

Being prey animals, rodents are always aware of surroundings and almost never close their eyes. Next time you see your guinea pig looking at you, it could be sleeping – who knows!


Guinea Pig’s Sleeping Pattern

Guinea Pig's Sleeping Pattern

When do guinea pigs sleep? Guinea pigs have a bit of… strange sleeping pattern as we have said. Remember that rodents evade any kind of fight and since they are prey animals, they sleep in hidden places while predators are outside and hunting.

With guinea pigs, the sleeping pattern is unpredictable.

The domestication of these animals has lead to major changes in their sleeping pattern and behavior.

Since we keep our guinea pigs in the house, there is no need for hiding and running from predators. All in all, the sleeping pattern of guinea pig will most likely change in a way that it’s almost the same as yours. They will start sleeping at night and maybe a bit during the day, which is how we, humans function.

Related: Where Do Guinea Pigs Sleep?


What Are Guinea Pigs Doing When Not Sleeping at Night?

Guinea pigs Not Sleeping at Night

This one depends on the amount of physical activity during the day. If you regularly train your guinea pig and let it roam around the house or the household, their need for sleep will most likely kick in the evening and they can easily sleep during the whole night.

As we said, they love sleeping and they need an excessive amount of sleep. During the day, this animal will need to have a decent amount of interaction with people and your family members.

And during the night, guinea pigs can do everything they do during the day, especially if they get bored. Before you start laughing, let me say that guinea pigs and animals, in general, CAN get bored! That’s why training and interaction with people are essential for eliminating night noises from them.

If they don’t sleep at night, they can sometimes get very noisy. For example, they can play with their toys if they have some, they can produce their characteristic ’purr’ sound which can distract you when going to sleep. Sometimes, they just sit there and do nothing.

There isn’t a general rule when it comes to their behavior, but you should distance the cage they live in a bit further from you.

The reason for this is that they get excited when you’re near and being excited isn’t going to make them quiet. If a guinea pig has its own space, it should be perfectly fine during the night and will not express nocturnality.

Related: Do Guinea Pigs Dream and Can They Have Nightmares?


Correlation with Vitamin C Deficiency and Lack of Sleep in Guinea Pigs

Guinea Pig Vitamin C Deficiency

Like people, guinea pigs need to have the proper nutrition to be healthy. If you have a guinea pig that isn’t sleeping at night or has some symptoms that make him upset, it can mean that it didn’t get enough Vitamin C during the day.

Vitamin C is very important for the normal function of joints and muscles, and the same applies to guinea pigs. If muscles and joints are sore and painful, sleep is the last option that could help.

To get more Vitamin C, you can either buy special food that has the proper amount of this micronutrient or get some supplements in the form of tablets. Either way, before indulging in such kind of treatment, you should always consult your veterinarian to get the right amount of Vitamin C.

Remember that vitamin overdose can be even worse than vitamin deficiency, leading to fatal results sometimes.

Are Guinea Pigs Nocturnal_1

Summary

Since you read all the way to here, you probably got an answer to your question. Are guinea pigs nocturnal? In most cases, no. Guinea pigs are crepuscular animals.

However, their behavior is heavily modified by domestication and they are now perfectly adapted to the human lifestyle.

A guinea pig is an excellent example of an animal that can function normally in both night and day, as is the case with cats and dogs – frequent domestic animals.

The important thing to mention is that guinea pigs sometimes mostly sleep during the day and perform their activities during the night, but those are really rare cases.

After all, every animal from the rodent family shares more or less similar behavioral patterns. If you train your guinea pig regularly and bond with it over time, a healthy guinea pig shouldn’t display any nocturnal behavior whatsoever.


Related: 10 Things You Need to Know Before Getting a Guinea Pig


List of Sources

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Daily, Gretchen C., Ehrlich, Paul R., Nocturnality and species survival, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 1996.

Levy, O., Dayan, T., Porter, W., Kornfeld-Schor, N., Time and ecological resilience: can diurnal animals compensate for climate change by shifting to nocturnal activity?, Ecological Monographs, 2018.

Siegel, J. M., Clues to the functions of mammalian sleep, Nature, 2005.

Tobler, I., Is sleep fundamentally different between mammalian species?, Behavioural Brain Research, 1995.

Tobler, I., Franken, P., Sleep homeostasis in the guinea pig: similar response to sleep deprivation in the light and dark period, Neuroscience letters, 1993.

Eliava, M. I., Effect of 6-hour sleep deprivation in the guinea pig Cavia porcellus, Zh. Evol. Biokhim. Fiziol, 1998.

Jouvet-Mounier, D., Astic, L., Study of sleep in the adult and newborn guinea pig, C. R. Seances Soc. Biol. Fil, 1966.

Pellet, J., Beraud, G., Paillard, J., A controversial problem: insomnia in the guinea pig, Electroencephalography and clinical neurophysiology, 1967.

Malven, P. V., Sawyer, C. H., Sleeping patterns in female guinea pigs; effects of sex hormones, Experimental neurology, 1966.

Pellet, J., Electropolygraphic and behavioral study of waking states and sleep in the guinea pig (Cavia porcellus), C. R. Seances Soc. Biol. Fil, 1966.

Tobler, I., Franken, P., Trachsel, L., Borbely, A. A., Models of sleep regulation in mammals, Journal of Sleep Research, 1992.

Campbell, S. S., Tobler, I., Animal Sleep: A Review of Sleep Duration Across Phylogeny, Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Review, 1984.

Clarissa Moolbrock

Clarissa Moolbrock is one of the founders and editor at Guinea Pig Tube. She is also an author of "Complete Guinea Pig Care Guide: The Essential, Practical Guide To All Aspects of Caring for Your Guinea Pigs" (available on Amazon). Being a veterinary technician helping animals and sharing her experience and knowledge with other guinea pig owners is her passion. Her life goal is to popularise guinea pigs as pets and that is why she has started Guinea Pig Tube website.