Do Guinea Pigs Sleep With Their Eyes Open?

Do guinea pigs sleep with their eyes open?

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Guinea pigs make delightful pets, as they each have unique personalities and are fun and entertaining to watch as they scurry around all day. Sometimes they are so busy that you may be worried that your guinea pig never seems to take time to sleep. But looks can be deceiving. Guinea pigs have the amazing ability to sleep standing up with their eyes wide open.

Find out how and when your guinea pig sleeps and what you should do if he isn’t getting the sleep he needs.

Do Guinea Pigs Sleep With Their Eyes Open?

Guinea pigs are one of the few animals that sleep with their eyes open. Although it can look like your guinea pig never takes time to sleep, rest assured that he is napping on his feet with his eyes wide open many times throughout the day.

Sometimes, guinea pigs sleep with one eye closed or with their eyes partially closed. Other times, when they feel completely safe and comfortable in their home, they will take a short snooze lying down with their eyes closed.

Do Guinea Pigs Sleep?

A picture of a guinea pig in a hammock

Guinea pigs may look like they never sleep, but this isn’t true. Guinea pigs sleep in short naps that last for a few minutes at a time. Guinea pigs typically nap on their feet, with their eyes wide open.

If you notice your guinea pig is standing in one spot and not moving, he is probably napping on his feet.

Sometimes, guinea pigs lie down or burrow in bedding material to take a short snooze, but that’s only when they feel completely safe and protected. The tendency to sleep on their feet has evolved from the need to keep an eye out for predators.

It may surprise you to learn that guinea pigs actually sleep an average of 9 1/2 hours a day, even though they look like they are always awake.

When Do Guinea Pigs Sleep?

Guinea pigs sleep for short periods throughout the day but don’t typically lie down and close their eyes. They have the unique ability to sleep standing up with their eyes wide open.

If you watch your guinea pig closely, you will notice that he stops and stays very still many times during the day. He isn’t contemplating the meaning of life or listening to the music in the background. He is likely catching a little snooze before going on about his day.

Guinea pigs are most active at dusk and dawn, so they aren’t likely to be sleeping then, but they do sleep off and on all through the day and night.

Also contrary to what some people believe guinea pigs don’t hibernate, but can sometimes sleep for long periods of time.

Recommendations for Guinea Pig Habitat

Making your guinea pig feel safe and comfy is essential, as it will promote good health and restful sleep, too. Here’s what you will need to keep your guinea pig happy and healthy.

Guinea Pig Cage:

There are many cages available for small pets like guinea pigs and hamsters, but some are better than others. Our veterinary team researched the best guinea pig cages and selected the Living World Deluxe Habitat.

Whatever you choose for a cage, your guinea pig will need at least 7.5 square feet of the room says The Humane Society of the United States. The cage should measure approximately 30” by 36” inches. This will also accommodate two guinea pigs, but a 30” by 50” cage is preferred for two guinea pigs.

Bedding:

Your guinea pig will need adequate bedding at the bottom of the cage to keep him comfortable. You can use hay, shredded paper, or even fleece, but sawdust and wood shavings should be avoided as they can cause respiratory issues.

Food:

  • It is essential to choose vitamin C-fortified pellets free of seeds and fruits, says the Humane Society. You should also supplement your guinea pig’s diet with fruits and veggies high in vitamin C. Feed him 1/8 cup of pellets once a day and about one cup of vitamin C-rich fruits and veggies, like leafy greens, red or green peppers and broccoli. Add carrots, tomato, sweet potato, or zucchini once or twice a week to give your guinea pig variety.
  • Fruits like strawberries, citrus, and kiwis are also a good choice but should be limited to small wedges as a treat no more than once a day. You can also feed your guinea pig several blueberries or a thin slice of banana. Try to avoid fruits that have pectin like avocados.
  • Timothy Hay: In addition to commercial pellets, fruits, and veggies, your guinea pig needs an unlimited supply of Timothy Hay. This aids in digestion and prevents their teeth from becoming overgrown.

Toys:

Your guinea pig needs toys to keep him active and to avoid boredom, but you don’t need to buy expensive toys. Consider giving your guinea pigs these simple toys to keep them busy.

  • Crumpled Paper
  • Cardboard Boxes or Tubes
  • Chew Balls
  • Chew Sticks
  • Tubes stuffed with hay. You can use toilet paper tubes or tubes from paper towels to make this simple toy and keep your guinea pig entertained all day.

Play Pen:

Guinea Pigs need ample room to run around and play outside the cage every day, but it isn’t always convenient (or advisable) to let them run free in your home, especially if you have other pets. A pet playpen can solve the problem and provide hours of fun for your guinea pig.

What Sleep Positions Do Guinea Pigs Like?

Guinea pigs typically sleep standing up to be alert and ready to respond to any threats or danger. Sometimes they lie down on their sides or tunnel under bedding material to take a short nap.

Don’t worry if you don’t see your guinea pigs lying down to sleep. He doesn’t need to. His body has adapted to thriving with short naps throughout the day.

Guinea Pig Sleep Stages

Guinea pigs do not have a regular sleep pattern or schedule. They are neither nocturnal nor diurnal. They sleep in short bursts throughout the day and night.

Guinea pigs are crepuscular and are most active at dawn and dusk.

Guinea pigs generally sleep standing up with their eyes open and may sleep for 10 to 30 minutes at a time. If your guinea pig stops his activity and remains still, he is likely sleeping.

Despite the fact that guinea pigs sleep in short bursts of 10 to 30 minutes, they need about 9 ½ hours of sleep a day. That adds up to a lot of quick naps throughout the day.

Interestingly, only half the guinea pig’s brain goes to sleep at one time, leaving the other half free to sense danger or alert him to predators. This adaptation, called unihemispheric sleep, allows the awake portion of the brain to regulate breathing and body temperature and monitor their position in relation to predators or other dangers.

Reasons for Guinea Pig Sleep Issues

Picture of a guinea pig yawning

Even though guinea pigs sleep in short bursts, they must get at least 9 ½ hours of sleep every 24-hour cycle. This can be difficult in a busy household where everyone wants the guinea pig’s attention. You can do several things to help your guinea pig get the sleep he needs.

  • Place his cage away from high-traffic areas.
  • Put the cage in a quiet room where the guinea pig can hear the sounds of family life without being the center of attention all day.
  • Cover the cage with a towel or other cloth for a few hours of the day to block out outside distractions and give your guinea pig time to rest.
  • Give your guinea pig a soft cloth for his shelter. He may enjoy snuggling down and getting nice and cozy for a little nap.
  • Get a second guinea pig. The company of another guinea pig will likely make him feel more comfortable and encourage him to nap when he is tired.

Owning a guinea pig can be a lot of fun, but they aren’t like many other rodents who curl up and sleep for hours. These amazing creatures have adapted to catch a quick nap on the run while looking like they are just hanging around contemplating what entertaining activity they will choose next.

Frequently Asked Questions

Additional Sources & Resources

  1. “Guinea Pig Sleep” by the University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine. https://vetmed.illinois.edu/pet_column/guinea-pig-sleep/
  2. “Guinea Pig Behavior and Psychology” by the University of Melbourne. https://www.vetsupply.com.au/pet-library/guinea-pig-behavior-and-psychology/
  3. “Guinea Pig: Behavior and Biology” by the University of California, Davis School of Veterinary Medicine. https://www.vetmed.ucdavis.edu/whats-new/guinea-pig-behavior-and-biology
  4. “Guinea Pig Psychology” by the School of Psychology at the University of Lincoln. https://www.lincoln.ac.uk/home/schoolofpsychology/research/researchgroups/marcp/guineapigpsychology/
  5. “Guinea Pig Vigilance Behaviour” by the Department of Animal Science at the University of California, Davis. https://animalscience.ucdavis.edu/research/research-areas/behavior/guinea-pig-vigilance-behaviour/

We also have a number of other guides related to guinea pigs, including:

Pet News Daily Staff
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