How long do guinea pigs sleep? On average, a guinea pig sleeps approximately 9 to 12 hours a day. Guinea pig’s sleep is much different from ours because they don’t sleep for a few hours in a row but they take short naps during the 24 h period. Each guinea pig nap lasts around 10 minutes. It is important to note that guinea pigs can sleep with their eyes open, that is why most of the owners are not even aware that their guinea pig is sometimes sleeping right in front of them.
There is a reason why they sleep like this that we will discuss that later in the article. This will end the dilemmas you may have regarding your energetic little guinea pig!
If you always wondered why the guinea pig is so restless and always moving, or maybe you want to learn everything in general about their sleep – stay with us to find out more fun and interesting info about your dear pet. Let’s begin!
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The Reason Behind the Strange ‘Sleepless’ Pattern of Guinea Pigs
The guinea pigs are prey animals, and this is a sad fact indeed! So, naturally, they are always alert and focused in case predators are around. This is also the reason why guinea pigs often sleep with open eyes as well.
Why is this? Because, at dawn and dusk, they feel the safest ‘to eat and move around’. It is in their instinct to be active mostly in these hours because predators are not roaming around at dusk and dawn.
Keep in mind that guinea pig nap can last from 20 seconds to 6 minutes! You may think this is strange but for them, it is normal and healthy. These are the extra short naps, and as we mentioned above, they also have ‘normal’ naps that last for around 10 minutes tops. However, most of the time, the guinea pig will nap for around 6 minutes, and rarely 10 and more.
Since the guinea pigs sleep so much, what is the most important thing for them? The comfort of a dark and hidden place where they actually take these naps to sleep! This means, your guinea pig needs a cozy spot that is hidden and comfortable.
For example, you can purchase a sleeping box that is available in many pet shops. Or, even better, you can make the existing cage/box of your guinea pig even comfier. Just line it up with some paper bedding, or a soft type of hay, lots of it. If you have more than one guinea pig, keep in mind that this space must be larger to fit two of them.
It seems the guinea pigs never sleep. It seems almost like an illusion; whenever you see the guinea pig, it has its eyes open or semi-closed let’s say. It is almost as if it never sleeps! But, the guinea pigs nap and sleep most of the time with their eyes not fully closed.
In fact, not just during sleep, but in general they do not close their eyes too much. As we mentioned, this is their instinct and natural behavior as protection against predators. This means you have probably seen your guinea pig sleep very often, you just didn’t realize it was sleeping!
The Significance of Predators in the Sleep Pattern of Guinea Pigs
This sleep pattern is very common for protection against the carnivores animals. The carnivores are the predators of the adorable herbivores guinea pigs. Carnivores can freely sleep during daytime because they are not in any danger against carnivore predators.
The most common predators of the guinea pigs are wolves, hawks, owls, and snakes.
This becomes even more common as your guinea pig gets older. It means that over time, it has formed a very strong bond with you, so respect that as well!
What If My Guinea Pig Seems to Sleep a Lot, Even Too Much?
Pay attention to this because it might not be so good as it seems. It is hard to see when the guinea pig actually sleeps, or to measure how long it rests. But, if the guinea pig seems too sedentary, not interested in activities, always resting and being silent – it might be time to visit the vet!
When the guinea pig is lying down for many hours (during the day and/or night), if it refuses the snacks you feed him, or sits in a corner and seems ‘sad’ and ‘sleeping’, then it might be sick. It is a good idea to go to the vet as soon as you can and ask for advice and help.
What Causes These Unusual and Long Sleep Patterns?
Usually, the cause for such long hours of sleep and being idle is an infection of some kind. The viral ones are uncommon with guinea pigs, but the big concern is around parasitic, fungal, and bacterial infections. For example, in the winter, the greatest risk is bacterial pneumonia.
Never wait too long to go to the vet, because infections not treated on time can be fatal!
The Impact of Food on the Sleep Pattern of Guinea Pigs
More often than not, the diet has some effect on the sleepiness of the guinea pig. If you and the vet rule out the chance of some infection, it might be a good idea to focus on the diet of the guinea pig.
When the guinea pigs lack vitamin C, they become fatigued and lethargic. This vitamin is extremely crucial for the guinea pigs, their health and survival. So, lack of vitamin C from foods or supplements will result in inactivity, loss of appetite (with that fatigue and no energy of course), joint pains, as well as malaise (overall idleness and feeling ill).
Make sure to always store the foods for the guinea pig properly. If you store them in very warm and bright spots, just know that those foods will have less vitamin C! To find out the vitamin C levels of the guinea pig, the vet can do a simple blood test to check this.
Usually, when more guinea pigs are kept in one cage, they sleep together next to each other and this is the most adorable thing you can witness. They gather around in a cluster, and one or a few guinea pigs always have their eyes open to ‘guard’ the others.
As they sleep, you can see them change positions in the cluster, almost ‘clockwise’. The one with the eyes open finds another spot and rests, as another guinea pig replaces him as a ‘guard’.
Hope this article has helped you understand everything related to guinea pig’s sleep pattern. Hopefully, we have resolved the common misconception that guinea pigs sleep for only 4 hours. Please check the reference articles or the list of sources if you are having any doubts.
We have carefully tackled this topic as it is really a sensitive one, lack of sleep or more of it can also mean that your guinea pig is sick. This is why it is important to always follow their behavior as any change can indicate that something is wrong with your guinea pig.
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