Can Guinea Pigs Close Their Eyes?

Can Guinea Pigs Close Their Eyes

One day, during the early stages of me caring for my first guinea pigs, I walked up to their cage to give them their daily treat. The youngest guinea pig was laying down with its eyes open, so I thought it was awake. When the guinea pig saw me, it jumped up and ran away. I felt horrible that I had scared this sweet little guinea pig. It was only that I later discovered that guinea pigs almost always have their eyes open, even when they sleep.

So, can guinea pigs close their eyes? Yes, guinea pigs can close their eyes but they don’t do it very often. Unlike humans, guinea pigs will keep their eyes open for the majority of their lives. Guinea pigs sleep with their eyes open most of the time and they blink to clear debris from their eyes. They will only close their eyes when they sleep or when they are resting only if they feel comfortable and safe in their surroundings. 

Guinea pigs use their eyes very differently from humans. Small rodents are prey animals and guinea pigs fall into this category. Guinea pigs will keep their eyes open to remain alert to any danger so that they can run to safety if they see any threat. Even though your guinea pig is domesticated and living the good life in a comfortable cage this behavior is an instinct to them.

If you notice that your guinea pig always seems awake and alert, do not worry – this is entirely normal. Although you may not see it, guinea pigs can close their eyes and blink. Guinea pigs will only sleep with their eyes closed when they feel completely safe in their cage. If you see your guinea pig with its eyes closed, that means your pet feels safe and secure. This is a victory for any guinea pig owner!

Why Doesn’t My Guinea Pig Close Its Eyes?

After you adopt your guinea pig, the first thing that you will notice is that they almost never close their eyes. You might worry that there is something wrong with your pet. Guinea pigs are prey animals who are used to danger and attacks from larger predators. They do not close their eyes often because they are biologically engineered to remain alert to any threat, even if they are safe in their cage.

Guinea pigs even sleep with their eyes open. Your pet will only sleep with its eyes closed when it feels completely safe. This is a behavior you will rarely see since guinea pigs hide to feel secure. If you catch your guinea pig laying down with their eyes mostly open and they do not seem alert or engaged with you or their cage mates, do your best not to disturb them. Guinea pigs love their sleep just as much as humans.

Unlike humans, who instinctively blink, guinea pigs do this very rarely. It is a controlled behavior for them. Since guinea pigs eyes are located on the side of their head, small bits of debris can easily enter their eyes. Guinea pigs will only blink to clear their eyes of any pieces of hay or bedding. Since guinea pigs’ bodies are so close to the ground, this is something that occurs very often. You will most likely see your guinea pig blink more than catch them sleeping with their eyes completely closed.

Keeping their eyes open has nothing to do with your guinea pigs’ vision. Guinea pigs are near-sighted, so they can only see what is right in front of them. If they feel threatened or scared in any way, they will quickly retreat to their sleeping den or another hiding place. Even if you treat your pet with much love and affection, they may still run from you. Building a rapport with your guinea pig early in their lives may help them trust you and you may catch your guinea pig sleeping with its eyes closed. This means that they feel safe around you and in their home!


Does My Guinea Pig Have Good Vision?

Guinea pigs have big eyes that are very expressive. They are naturally near-sighted and they can see different colors. As opposed to humans, whose eye sockets protect their front-facing eyes, guinea pigs don’t have this shield. Their eyes slightly stick out from their face on the sides of their bodies, which gives them a different perspective of their surroundings. Guinea pigs can see down the whole length of their tiny bodies. This allows them to be more aware of their environment.

Guinea pigs will keep their eyes open to protect themselves from anything dangerous but they are also naturally curious and social animals. Most of the time, when they are safe in their cage, they are just observing you and the activity outside of their cage.

If you and your guinea pig have a close relationship, they can sense when you are near, even if they can’t see you. Your pet may also meet you at the door of the cage, especially when its meal pr a treat time!

Source: Ophthalmology of Exotic Pets – David L. Williams


How Do Guinea Pigs Sleep with Their Eyes Open?

Since you will very rarely catch your guinea pig with his eyes closed, you may think that they do not sleep that much. Honestly, your guinea pig probably sleeps more than you. Before guinea pigs were domesticated, they lived in the wild on one of the lowest levels of the food chain. They were prey to other wild animals.

Although they may move fast to you, guinea pigs could rarely outrun a larger predator. Over time, natural selection ensured the survival of guinea pigs by giving a new breed which could sleep with their eyes open.

Today, even though guinea pigs are domesticated, they still sleep with their eyes open. If you ever noticed your guinea pig laying around their cage with their eyes open, or partially open, they are probably taking a nap or resting. As you bond with your pet, you will learn the difference between your guinea pig’s behavior when they are sleeping and when they are awake.

Guinea pigs are very active during their waking hours. They take small naps throughout the day and night and they remain awake and active (and eating!) for the rest of the time. However, they may sync up to your schedule and they will settle down when you go to sleep.

This isn’t a hard rule, though, as any guinea pig owner knows. Your pets may feel more comfortable roaming about and playing at night since there is less activity around them that they may see as a threat (click to see if guinea pigs are loud at night).

How Do Guinea Pigs Sleep with Their Eyes Open

In the rare event that you catch your guinea pig sleeping with its eyes closed, this means that they feel entirely safe and comfortable. They are more likely to do this if they have cage mates. Guinea pigs who share a cage have a close bond, and they will often huddle and sleep together. This makes them feel protected, especially if they are in their sleeping den. Guinea pigs are more likely to sleep with their eyes closed when surrounded by their cage mates than when they are alone in the cage.


Do Guinea Pigs Blink?

Since guinea pigs keep their eyes open most of the time, you may not know that your pet has eyelids. Guinea pigs have eyelids and they can blink just like humans but they blink for different reasons. Humans instinctually blink, while guinea pigs do not have this habit. Guinea pig’s eyes are particularly vulnerable to catching debris since they protrude and they don’t have much protection.

They blink to clear their eyelids of dust, bedding, and hay that may have accumulated in their eyes. This is their way of keeping their eyes healthy.


Should I Give My Guinea Pigs Eyedrops?

Since your guinea pig keeps its eyes open most of the time, you may be tempted to give them eye drops to keep their eyes from drying out. This is entirely unnecessary unless this was directed by a veterinarian. You should never attempt any medical treatment without the consultation of a professional.


What Should I Do If Something Gets in My Guinea Pig’s Eyes?

Although guinea pigs blink to clear their eyes from debris, this doesn’t always remove larger pieces of debris. If these pieces of hay or dirty bedding remain in their eyes, they will irritate them. If your guinea pig eyes become red, inflamed, or swollen do not try to remove anything from their eyes. Bring your pet to your local exotic animal veterinarian for treatment. You can sometimes do more harm even if you are trying to help your pet.


Summary

Guinea pigs are very social and they love attention. The best way to bond with your pet is to engage and cuddle with them. They will learn to love your touch and affection. When gently petting your guinea pig (click to find out where guinea pigs like to be petted) during these cuddle sessions, you may notice that your guinea pig sometimes closes its eyes. If this happens, this means that your pet trusts you and feels completely safe with you.

GUINEA PIG #1 The Essential, Practical Guide to All Aspects of Caring for Your Guinea Pigs!

You want your Guinea Pigs to live a long, healthy, happy life? You want to have all the information to avoid serious mistakes? You are in luck!

We are working on one of a kind Guinea Pig e-book. Do you want to be notified when it's released?