When do Guinea Pigs Sleep?

When do Guinea Pigs Sleep

We all know these little loving creatures that are always so happy to play, so they probably made you think „Is my pet ever sleeping?”. You can also believe that your guinea pig never sleeps but I am going to provide you some useful information.

Of course, you need to know if your new pet is going to be noisy, especially at night. You’ve come to the right place.

When do guinea pigs sleep? Well, they sleep anytime they can. You may not notice it because sometimes, they sleep with their eyes wide open.

It might seem crazy and unreal but if you think about it, it makes sense. In the wild nature, 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.

How Much Sleep Do Guinea Pigs Require?

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 4 hours of sleep per day.

It might seem a lot as you probably rarely see your pet sleeping but it is quite a small amount of sleep. Humans sleep for 6 to 8 hours every day and those little piggies are still very active with as little as 4 hours of sleep.

How Do They Sleep?

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. However, they sleep more intense at night because they adapt to their owner’s schedule.

As I have already said, they are at the bottom of the food chain so they are always on alert and ready to escape the predators.

For How Long Do They 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.

Other sources say that they take naps of about 20 to 30 minutes.

Numbers are not the most important as the point is that they don’t need to sleep long periods at a time as humans need and they function very well with these strange schedules (they are still very active and playful mammals).

When Do Guinea Pigs Actually Close Their Eyes While Sleeping?

They close their eyes while sleeping only when they are completely relaxed and feeling safe.

You can create this comfort zone for your pet in its cage. You can put a little box covered with a layer of hay to make it as comfortable as possible.

More often than not, they keep their eyes wide open while sleeping.

Older Guinea Pigs Vs. Younger Guinea Pigs

There should be no surprise that older piggies sleep more than younger ones. This is happening 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.

Are Guinea Pigs Diurnal Or Nocturnal Mammals?

As you can probably guess, they are both diurnal and nocturnal. This happens because they are used to being always aware of the predators which can hunt during daytime or night. It really is true that they sleep more at night but it’s just because they get used to how their owner sleep.

 Guinea Pigs – Very Active Mammals

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

Unlike other mammals, they spend most of their days without sleep.

Guinea Pigs Prefer Darkness

It’s completely logic for them to prefer darkness as they feel more secure. This is a reason why they hide under things in their cage when they take naps during the day.

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 a prey for the animals and always need to be careful around them. They are always looking around to see any kind of danger.

Note: Many scientists believe that their odd way of sleeping has to do with an opinion that guinea pigs do not have eyelids. Actually, this isn’t even a fact as guinea piggies 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.

Overall View: Guinea Pigs In Opposition With Humans (About Mammals’ Sleeping)

  1. Humans sleep a whole block of time while the little piggies take naps.
  2. We need at least 6 hours and a maximum of 8 hours of sleep per night while guinea pigs need only 4 hours.
  3. Humans sleep during the night, guinea pigs sleep when they can and want (and when they feel safe).
  4. An obvious one: guinea pigs can sleep with their eyes wide open (as they usually do) and humans cannot.
  5. Guinea pigs need a very comfortable and safe place to sleep (especially with their eyes closed) while humans are not that affected by this aspect.

Tips On How To Make Your Experience With Your Friend Greater

  1. Get him a big enough cage so he doesn’t feel scared. Also if he has a small cage, he can get depressed because he doesn’t have space for playing. Of course, there is a direct correlation between their activities and their quality of sleep.
  2. You can put their cage in a joyful room where they can also zone-out if they need some quiet time.
  3. Never place their cages near loud sources of sound as their hearing is very sensitive.
  4. Give guinea pigs a good bedding, change it weekly and spot clean daily as they prefer dry and clean bedding.
  5. Give them fresh food and water. It might seem like this has nothing to do with sleeping but if a function of the organism doesn’t work properly, there will be other functions that will start to be damaged.
  6. Put some toys in their cage. This helps them see their cage as a friendly, danger-free place.
  7. Put a little tunnel in their cage and this way, your little buddies can have some privacy. These animals can get very shy and if they are aware of their private place, they can feel safe.
  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?

How The Biological Clock Affects The Physiological Processes (Activity)

Guinea pigs are mammals so I am going to give you information about mammals.

First of all, I need to make it clear about the connection between the biological clock animals have and the activities they perform. The biological clock is in direct correlation with the physiological processes. It tells the body when to wake up and it has control over the needs of the organism.

This biological clock receives information about whether is daytime or nighttime directly from the retina (whose cells are specialized in this function). This is how the biological clock has control over the organs.

PROOF: According to Ruud Buijs, a neuroscientist from the National Autonomous University of Mexico, nowadays, it is possible to remove the biological clock (situated in the hypothalamus) of a guinea pig and it would keep functioning „in vitro”. It would still have electrical activity in a cycle of more or less than 24 hours, without having to complete any given task.

Facts Based On Experiments

The circadian rhythms of rats and guinea pigs have been studied in parallel by many people. Rats were proved to have changes in their sleep schedule over time (from birth to a constant sleep schedule) while guinea pigs can never be diurnal or nocturnal mammals.

Even if both rats and guinea pigs are rodents, their sleep schedule is very different, mainly because guinea pigs don’t have a sleeping schedule and this fact makes them special rodents.

However, it can be the most irritating thing on the Earth for an owner of guinea pigs.


Anyway, to sum it all up, you need to get to know your roommate (guinea pig) in order to live with him peacefully. It is your duty to offer him a comfy bed and to make him feel safe in his cage. Also in your home, whenever you let him discover your house, he 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.

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.