When Do Guinea Pigs Sleep? | Information and Facts

When Do Guinea Pigs Sleep

Animals have different sleeping patterns and these patterns are very different depend on if they are predators or not (prey animals). Based on that, there are nocturnal animals that are active at night, diurnal animals that are active during the day and crepuscular animals which are active mostly during the twilight.

Guinea pigs are always so happy to play, so they probably made you think „Is my guinea pig ever sleeping?” or „Are my guinea pigs nocturnal or diurnal?”. Don’t worry, we are going to provide you with some useful information on this topic and by the end of the article, you will know everything about your guinea pig’s sleeping habits.

When do guinea pigs sleep? Guinea pig’s sleep consists of short naps during the whole 24 hour period. Sometimes you won’t even notice them sleeping because of their ability to sleep with their eyes opened. On average, guinea pigs sleep around 9-12 hours per day. The sleeping schedule is different for every guinea pig and also they can sometimes adapt to the sleeping schedule of the owner. Short naps of guinea pigs last around 6 to 10 minutes and they take most of them during the night. They have different stages of sleep and each of these stages is important for their overall health. One especially interesting stage is called REM sleep (rapid eye movement), during this stage guinea pigs can dream.

It might seem weird and unreal that they can sleep with their eyes opened, but if you think about it, it makes sense. In the wild, these little rodents are at the bottom of the food chain. In order to prevent getting caught by predators, they have to always be vigilant and careful.

Of course, you need to know a lot more about guinea pig’s sleep as it is a very important part of their life. Now let’s talk more about their sleeping habits.

Guinea Pig Sleeping Habits: Everything You Need to Know

Guinea Pig Sleeping Habits

How Much Do Guinea Pigs Sleep?

As with any mammal on this planet, guinea pigs require a minimum amount of sleep to survive. Some scientists say that the average guinea pig needs around 6 hours of sleep per day. But, that’s only for surviving. For normal functions and rest, guinea pigs need more hours of sleep and they normally sleep 9 to 12 hours a day.

It might seem a lot as you probably rarely see your pet sleeping but as we have said, they can sleep with their eyes opened. Even if they are mammals just like us, humans, they don’t have a certain schedule. We sleep for 6 to 8 hours continuously while guinea pigs take short naps during the day and night. However, they sleep more at night because they adapt to their owner’s schedule.

How many hours guinea pigs will sleep depends on their activity during the day, the comfort of their bedding, and their diet.


For How Long Do Guinea Pigs Sleep At Once?

A guinea pig nap is known to last anywhere between 20 seconds to 6 minutes at a time. They can relax for up to 10 minutes, but they sleep for about 6 minutes out of them. There are also other sources that say that they can take naps for about 20 to 30 minutes.

Exact numbers are not really that important, the main point is that they don’t need to sleep long periods at a time as the humans need and guinea pigs function very well with these strange sleeping schedules.

Now when we take a look at how often do guinea pigs sleep, even though they sleep more than humans, they are still very active and playful mammals.


Do Guinea Pigs Sleep With Their Eyes Open?

Most of the time guinea pigs sleep with their eyes open. They close their eyes while sleeping only when they are completely relaxed and feeling safe.

In order to create this comfort zone for your guinea pig in its cage, put a little box covered with a layer of hay to make it as comfortable as possible. Also, it’s very important to choose proper bedding that will be comfy and soft, because guinea pigs love to sleep on soft and absorbent beddings.

But, why do guinea pigs keep their eyes open? This, of course, is an obvious question and a piece of information that the majority of people do not know about. They adapted over time to sleep with their eyes wide open because they are prey animals and always need to be careful. Guinea pigs are always looking around to see if there is any kind of danger or predator animals.

Note: Many people believe that their odd way of sleeping is related to the belief that guinea pigs do not have eyelids. Actually, this isn’t even a fact as guinea pigs can and do blink (only when they need to) and they can also close their eyes while sleeping. So, their lack of eyelids is a myth.


Do Baby Guinea Pigs Sleep a Lot?

There should be no surprise that older guinea pigs sleep more than younger ones. This happens because they are weaker and also because they are used to their surroundings so they don’t feel the need to always be on alert. After around 4 years, your guinea pig will start sleeping better and more often.

If your guinea pig sleeps more than normal and isn’t active at all, that can be a sign of some illness or bad diet. Guinea pigs need a lot of vitamin C, and if they don’t eat a proper amount of food that contains vitamin C they can get scurvy. With this disease, guinea pigs feel weak, tired and they sleep a lot. If you notice any of these symptoms, adjust their diet, or just go to the vet.


Are Guinea Pigs Nocturnal Animals?

Are Guinea Pigs Nocturnal Animals

This answer can surprise you because guinea pigs aren’t nocturnal, or even diurnal animals. Guinea pigs are crepuscular animals. So, what are exactly are crepuscular animals?

Crepuscular animals are most active during the dusk and dawn. As we know, guinea pigs are active in the day but they also take short naps during the day. So we can’t say that they are 100% diurnal animals. Also, it’s really true that they sleep more at night and it’s because they get used to how their owner sleep, so they aren’t nocturnal animals.

Crepuscular behavior is between diurnal and nocturnal behavior, where guinea pigs are primarily active in twilight (dusk and dawn). They don’t like a lot of the sun, and also they don’t feel safe in total dark, so dusk and dawn seem like the best part of the day for guinea pigs.


Are Guinea Pigs Loud at Night?

Any person who has a guinea pig already knows that they always want to play and that they are active for the majority of the day. They are most active at dusk, dawn, and during the day (because of their owner’s schedule).

Because of that, guinea pigs aren’t loud at night, but they can make some sounds if they communicate with each other. If your guinea pig is loud at night, that can be a sign that something is wrong, so be sure to make them a good place for sleep and that they have water and food in their cage.


Where Do Guinea Pigs Sleep?

Where Do Guinea Pigs Sleep

Guinea pigs love to have special space in their cage, where they can rest. It’s completely logical for them to prefer darkness when they want to sleep. This is a reason why they hide under things in their cage when they take naps during the day.

As an owner, you need to provide your guinea pig with soft bedding and hideouts where they can hide and sleep in peace. Fleece bedding is a good choice because of its softness, it has good absorption, and also it’s durable because you can wash it and use again.

You can also make fleece bedding by yourself, but there are also other options for bedding like aspen bedding and some safe solutions of pine and paper beddings.


Can Guinea Pigs Sleep With You in the Same Room?

It’s not recommended for you to sleep with your guinea pig, because humans sleep for multiple hours in a row while the guinea pigs take short naps. That means that you will be sleeping during the whole night, while your guinea pigs can spend some time of the night awake, active, and make noises in order to communicate with other guinea pigs.

If you have allergies to the hay or something, it isn’t a good idea to keep guinea pigs in your room. Also, it’s better to keep guinea pigs in the room where they have more air and where the temperature is optimal for them.


How to Put a Guinea Pig to Sleep at Home: Instructions

How to Put a Guinea Pig to Sleep at Home Instructions

Step 1 – Get them a big enough cage so they don’t feel scared. Also if they have a small cage, they can get depressed because guinea pigs need to have space for playing. Of course, there is a direct correlation between their activities and their quality of sleep.


Step 2 – You can put their cage in a joyful room where they can also zone-out if they need some quiet time.


Step 3 – Never place their cages near loud sources of sound as their hearing is very sensitive.


Step 4 – Provide guinea pigs with good bedding, change it weekly, and spot clean daily. They prefer dry and clean beddings.


Step 5 – Give them fresh food and water. It might seem like this has nothing to do with sleeping but if some functions in the organism don’t work properly, other functions will start getting damaged as well.


Step 6 – Put some toys in their cage. This helps them see their cage as a friendly and a danger-free place.


Step 7 – Put a little tunnel in their cage and this way, your little guinea pigs can have some privacy. These animals can get very shy and if they are aware that they have a private place, they will feel safer.


Step 8 – Always make time in your daily busy life for your little friend! They love to play and to get attention as they are very social rodents. Is there a better way to create a strong bond with your pet and to make him feel safe then to spend time with it?

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Summary

To sum it all up, you need to get to know your roommate (guinea pig) in order to live with it peacefully. It is your duty to offer it a comfy bed and to make it feel safe in his cage.

Also in your home, whenever you let your guinea pig discover your house, it needs to feel safe in order to be playful and active. The more you learn about guinea pigs, the more you will love and care for them. Hopefully, we helped you understand your guinea pig’s sleeping habits. Best of luck!


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


List of Sources

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Zepelin, H., Siegel, J. M., Tobler, I., Mammalian Sleep, 2005.

Siegel, J. M., Sleep in Animals: A State of Adaptive Inactivity, Sleep Mechanisms and Phylogeny.

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

Pedemonte, M., Pena, J. L., Torterolo, P., Velluti, R. A., Auditory deprivation modifies sleep in the guinea-pig, Neuroscience Letters, 1996.

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

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

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

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

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

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.

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

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

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

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.