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. No, Guinea pigs aren’t nocturnal and they aren’t even diurnal!
Wondering how Guinea pigs spend 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.
What Does Nocturnal Mean?
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. And 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 active a bit throughout a day and a bit throughout the night. These animals are neither nocturnal or diurnal… *cough* Guinea pigs. 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 the day and during the night.
It’s not strange that many nocturnal animals are actually the most dangerous creatures in the wilderness. Since 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.
What Does Diurnal Mean?
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, 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 I mentioned this animal is well-known, as we (people) share a lot of similarities between them. And if you take a look at us, we do most of our activities during the day, while we sleep during the night. Rinse and repeat, rinse and repeat.
When it comes to categorizing Guinea pigs, it’s really hard to tell if they’re diurnal or nocturnal.
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 specimen. 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 like 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 that small 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!
So, are they diurnal animals? Nope.
How do Guinea Pigs Sleep?
Guinea pigs are masters of sleeping since they can do what no people can. They can and they sleep with their eyes open. Eureka! 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, rodents aren’t exactly prone to bite 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!
What’s Their Sleeping Pattern?
If they aren’t either nocturnal or diurnal, when do these boys sleep? While bigger rodents like rats mice usually sleep during the day, Guinea pigs have a bit of… strange sleeping pattern. 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.
In my experience, Guinea pigs often take some nap during the day and later in the evening. Some even display nocturnality and stay during the whole night, while some partially sleep and partially chew everything they get during the night.
In the wilderness, Guinea pigs are in 90% nocturnal animals. However, domestication of these animals leads to major changes in their sleeping pattern and behavior.
And 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.
What are Guinea Pigs Doing When 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 nocturnality out of their habits.
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. And sometimes, they just sit there and do nothing. There isn’t a general rule when it comes to 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 aren’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.
Correlation with Vitamin C Deficiency
Like people, Guinea pigs need to have proper nutrition to be healthy and exploit natural behavior. If you have a furry friend that isn’t sleeping at night or have some symptoms that make him upset, it can mean that he 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 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.
Since you read all the way to here, you probably got an answer to your question. Are Guinea pigs nocturnal? In most cases, no. However, their behavior is heavily modified by domestication and they are now perfectly adapted to human lifestyle. Not only that they spend most of the day doing their usual activities, but also do very little sleep during the day.
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 sleep during the day and perform their activities during the night, but that’s a really rare case.
After all, every animal from 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.