Do Guinea Pigs Dream And Can They Have Nightmares?

Do Guinea Pigs Dream And Can They Have Nightmares

Guinea pigs, much like other mammals, need sleep. But, do guinea pigs dream? The answer to that question is positive! Every mammal dreams, whether it’s a dog, a cat or any other animal. Dreaming is something that usually can’t be interpreted, in terms of the content of a dream. That’s where many people tend to go wrong as they try and interpret what the particular dream means. On the other hand, we can’t interpret Guinea pig’s dreams since they can’t talk. But, we can see when they are having nightmares.

So, let’s examine some parts of the sleep and see when to dreams occur.

Guinea Pig Sleeping Pattern

Guinea pigs have a bit…erratic sleep pattern. This means that this animal can either sleep through the whole night or simply sleep several times a day. The amount of sleep they get drastically influence the dreaming sequences. For example, if it sleeps about one or two hours, dreams are less likely to occur. However, if you Guinea pig sleeps at night for a long period, it successfully passes through the several sleeping phases of sleep which we’re going to mention now.

So, as we mentioned above, even Guinea pigs pass through the sleeping phases, much like us. We begin with a light sleep where you can easily wake up and progress towards the more deeper sleep which makes us hard to get up. Of course, there’s a well-known REM phase which usually involves dreaming and increased brain activity during the rapid eye movement.

  • Phase 1

Guinea pigs pass through this phase very quickly, and during this phase, dreaming is impossible. This is the time when your Guinea pig is still somewhat awake, but the eyes are moving much slower, and the muscle activity is much lower. Since Guinea pigs sleep with their eyes open, this is much more prominent.

The reason behind this is that Guinea pigs are a type of rodents and almost all rodents sleep with their eyes open. When it comes to humans, we often have that sensation of falling and experience sudden muscle contractions as a consequence.

  • Phase 2

The phase 2 is just close enough to a complete, deep sleep. In Guinea pigs, this phase lasts even shorter and is immediately followed by a phase 3. However, in phase 2, the brain waves are much slower, and the heart starts beating much slower, preparing the body for a deep sleep.

  • Phase 3

Phase 3 is simply a deep sleep. And although Guinea pig’s deep sleep is much different than human’s deep sleep, they CAN get to that phase. In this phase, the brain emits very slow waves which are often called delta waves, and in some cases, these are perplexed with the fast waves. This phase represents a transition between NREM and REM sleep. NREM sleep is non-rapid eye movement sleep and REM is rapid eye movement sleep, where the dreams occur.

  • REM Sleep

Finally, this is the phase where Guinea pigs and all mammals dream. Interestingly enough, the brain waves in this phase are very similar if not the same as if a Guinea pig is awake. The rapid eye movement means that the eyes move from side to side as a product of intense dreams and brain activity occurring in this phase. The same applies to Guinea pigs as they can often express the emotion from the dreams quite intensely.

Some Guinea pigs owners even mentioned seeing their pig rapidly moving eyes in their REM phase of sleep, which is pretty interesting. Some of them even mentioned seeing the pig chewing with the empty mouth while asleep, and the list goes on and on.

If we compare that to the human behaviour during the sleep, similarities can be found. But, humans sometimes exaggerate and even perform sleepwalking or have night terrors.

That’s not to say that Guinea pigs can’t have the same sensations. In fact, they can also have night terrors as a product of nightmares and overall bad dreams.

What do Guinea Pigs Dream Of?

This is a tricky question that’s almost impossible to be answered. The reason for that is that the animals can’t talk. However, you can sometimes clearly interpret what the Guinea pig is dreaming simply by examining its behaviour during the deep sleep or REM phase. As with humans, if the Guinea pig seems overly anxious, chews, and sometimes produce unpleasant sounds, there are chances that it has a nightmare.

But, what if the Guinea pig doesn’t show any signs of having a dream of some sort?

Well, in most cases, that dream isn’t disturbing or isn’t disturbing enough to cause the animal to show a reaction. It’s probably dreaming of some stuff that it has done that day or simple ruminating about stuff it has done in the past. That’s simply a healthy dreaming.

Can Certain Events Trigger Nightmares?

Yes! Much like humans, Guinea pigs dream of the stuff they’ve done before or simply have a mixture of past events and some future thinking. And in Guinea pigs, this is even more prominent! The lifestyle of the animal can drastically impact the dreams.

If you don’t take care of your Guinea pigs like you should, it can have nightmares or even various sensations during the dream. If it’s hungry, it can dream of food or even refuse to sleep! That’s not a joke – Guinea pigs are very smart animals.

And if it lives a peaceful life and enjoys your company, a Guinea pig can often dream about good stuff like you petting it or giving it a delicious portion of food. When it comes to pregnant female Guinea pigs, they can also have bad dreams.

Females who are pregnant or who just gave birth are extremely prone to being anxious and have nightmares. Those nightmares can either consist of something bad happening to its new-born pigs or something completely different.

How to Recognize Guinea Pig Dreaming

This one is pretty simple. If you ever saw a human dreaming, you can easily recognize when your furry friend has a dreaming sequence. While we dream, our muscles are sometimes twitching, and our eyes are almost always moving around, especially in the REM phase.

The Guinea pig’s behaviour is pretty similar to that. Many owners reported seeing their pigs twitching and even producing sounds that sound strange. However, this isn’t any reason for concern in most cases.

You Guinea pig is having a dream, and that’s all. But, since Guinea pigs often sleep when they’re alone or in their cage, it’s unlikely that you’ll see things like that except if you do it on purpose. Comparing Guinea pig’s dreaming to, let’s say dog, we can see very similar results. Dogs can also dream, and they sometimes show it by twitching or moving in an erratic pattern. Since I have a dog, I can confirm that.

In this regard, the Guinea pig isn’t all that different from the other animals, even though it’s a rodent.

Typical Behaviors of Guinea Pig Dreaming

We’ve mentioned some of the behaviours before, but let’s mention more of them.

The first typical behaviour is, of course, rapid eye movement. This is the first proof that your Guinea pig is dreaming. And as much as terrifying it may look, it’s all but a reason to worry. Since it sleeps with its eyes open, it can clearly be seen moving its eyes up and down, as well as from side to side. This indicates that your Guinea pig is going through a very deep sleep that includes the REM phase.

Chewing is another typical behaviour that many owners have reported. And this one is also very common among Guinea pigs. Some even speculate that the Guinea pig is probably dreaming of food when doing this, but who knows. It can be dreaming of something else!

Finally, we have the twitching. The twitching is a body’s response to slow brain waves accompanied by the fast waves. While the slow waves are here to calm its body down, the fast waves occur at some point, leading to muscle twitching and flexing. This also happens to people, too! And no, it’s not a reason to worry. In some cases, it can indicate that the nightmare is happening, although there is no proof of that.

So, can your furry friend dream of something while he takes a nap?

Sure! Guinea pigs have much more character and wisdom than many people think. Although these tiny animals were living in less urban areas, their domestication leads them to behave in a way that makes them great animals for having.

They can dream about everything, much like humans, and this isn’t something that you should worry about. But, if you, as an owner, to everything to please your pig and provide it with the excellent conditions for living, the Guinea pig will be much happier. Oh, and it’ll have more pleasant dreams too!

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.