Like every other animal, guinea pigs need to sleep. However, they don’t sleep in the same way as humans or other predator species. Guinea pigs are prey animals, which means they have to be cautious about how, when, and where they fall asleep!
You don’t need to do anything to create a guinea pig sleep schedule or make sure your piggies sleep–they’ll do that on their own, and sometimes you might not even notice them sleeping with their eyes open!
In this article, we’ll discuss all there is to know about guinea pig sleep, including how many hours guinea pigs sleep, when guinea pigs sleep, and more!
Table of Contents
Do Guinea Pigs Sleep With Their Eyes Open?
One common question guinea pig owners have is, why do guinea pigs sleep with their eyes open?
There’s actually a really good reason behind this. As a prey animal, a guinea pig’s instinct is to always know their surroundings. They need to know if there are predators around, after all!
For this reason, guinea pigs often sleep with their eyes wide open. Sometimes they’re even upright on their feet, and the only way to tell they’re sleeping is that they’re standing very still.
However, you might also spot your fur babies sleeping with their eyes closed when they feel very comfortable and safe. Unlike some animals that can’t close their eyes at all, guinea pigs do have eyelids.
How Much Do Guinea Pigs Sleep?
Guinea pigs generally sleep between 4-6 hours a day, but not all at once. Instead, they take small naps throughout the day and night. These naps might be as short as five to fifteen minutes!
This is why you never want to keep your guinea pigs in a small cage or hutch for sleeping, because they don’t sleep as many hours as humans, nor all at once like we do.
Keeping them in a small enclosure won’t make them sleep, but it will make them very bored and unable to run around like they should.
Guinea pigs must always be in an enclosure that meets or exceeds the minimum for their herd size. The only exceptions to this are medical (such as a piggy who’s not meant to move around while healing from a surgery) or very temporary (such as for ten minutes while you clean their cage).
Do Guinea Pigs Sleep at Night?
Guinea pigs aren’t nocturnal or diurnal. This means they don’t sleep primarily during the day or night. Instead, they sleep in small bursts throughout the day and night.
To them, it doesn’t matter if it’s light or dark–though they will prefer to sleep in shadowed areas such as in their hides, as this makes them feel safe from predators. Remember, a guinea pig’s main predators are birds of prey, so they like to be hidden from above.
Guinea pigs do thrive on a day-night cycle like they’d get in the wild, so it is important to turn the lights off at night and let the sunshine in during the day. However, your guinea pigs won’t sleep at night on schedule like you might expect from your dog or cat.
You also shouldn’t cover your guinea pigs’ cage up for the night, as this can prevent their cage from having proper ventilation. This can lead to odor build-up, respiratory issues, heat stroke, and even suffocation.
Lastly, don’t put your guinea pigs into a smaller enclosure for the night. They won’t sleep all of this time, so it’s just as neglectful as keeping them in a too-small enclosure during the daytime.
Why is My Guinea Pig Sleeping So Much?
Guinea pigs may sleep more than usual because of old age or illness. If your guinea pig’s sleeping habits have changed suddenly, bring them to an experienced exotic pet veterinarian right away.
As prey animals, guinea pigs hide their illnesses, so it’s important to keep a close eye on them to detect symptoms. And once you see a symptom, like sleeping more than usual, it’s important that they see a veterinarian quickly.
Sickness can progress very quickly in piggies and catching illnesses early can be lifesaving!
Guinea Pig Sleeping Positions and Their Meanings
- Guinea pigs sleeping on their feet with their eyes open are on the lookout for predators! This doesn’t necessarily mean they feel unsafe, just that they aren’t sleeping very deeply.
- Guinea pigs sleeping on their side with their eyes closed feel very safe. This is a vulnerable position for a piggy, so you should feel special if they sleep like this on your lap or when you’re nearby! Their belly is exposed and they aren’t able to look for threats.
- When multiple guinea pigs sleep close together, this can mean that they’re close to one another and have a good bond. It also might mean that they’re frightened or cold.
- Guinea pigs sleeping with their head down might be trying to shield their eyes from the light, or just trying to get comfortable while they sleep.
Can I Sleep With My Guinea Pig?
Please, never sleep with your guinea pig! While it seems like a cute idea (who wouldn’t want to cuddle up with their piggies at night?), it’s very dangerous in practice.
The first threat is that you’re a lot bigger than a guinea pig. If you move in your sleep, you could squish them!
Your guinea pig also won’t sleep through the night like you, so they’re going to be moving all around. Chances are, they won’t stay where you put them until morning.
Guinea pigs are small and delicate, so jumping or falling off of your bed can injure them. They can also get into all sorts of trouble free-roaming around your house. They can munch on things they shouldn’t eat like electrical cords or toxic substances, get hurt by other pets in the home, or get lost in small crevices around the house.
Overall, it’s just not safe to let your guinea pig sleep with you. It’s also not sanitary or practical.
Guinea pigs have very fast digestive systems that are constantly moving, meaning you’ll have to bring their hay and water to bed with you as well so that they can eat and drink. Otherwise, they might suffer from GI stasis after going all night long without food.
They’ll also spend that time pooping and peeing on your bed, or wherever they end up wandering to while you’re asleep. That wouldn’t be fun to clean up in the morning!
We hope this article has taught you more about your guinea pigs’ sleeping habits! How do your piggies sleep?