If you are considering getting your child a pet, the guinea pig may be one of the animals in the running. Since these little balls of fluff are less popular than cats and dogs, you may not be quite sure about their habits and way of life.
One of the important questions you should be considering is the sleeping pattern of the guinea pig. Do they sleep at night, or will they keep waking you up with their chirping and squeaking?
As it turns out, the piggy is not actually nocturnal – but you may find that it is very active while the sun is down.
Are Guinea Pigs Nocturnal?
Guinea pigs are crepuscular, so they will be the most active at dawn and dusk. Since they only nap for 10-30 minutes at a time during both the day and night, your guinea will likely be awake for large portions of the night.
While guinea pigs aren’t actually nocturnal, they are awake during the night, and may make sounds that will keep you awake as well if you are sleeping in the same room. They will also be awake for large portions of the day as well, so will be available for plenty of playtime too.
Due to the guinea’s size, it’s gotten accustomed to sleeping for short amounts of time, like many other small mammals. In the wild, it would be exposing itself to extreme danger were it to fall asleep for hours on end. And while it is certainly in no danger in your home, the instinct is still strong.
Do Guinea Pigs Sleep at Night?
Yes, guinea pigs sleep at night, but they will never sleep through the entire night. They only sleep for short intervals, and will also be active while you are asleep.
Guinea pigs tend to sleep when there’s no one around, but will happily wake up when the kids are there and want to play. They are also however likely to jump in their wheel just as you are about to fall asleep.
Some guinea pigs adopt more quiet behaviors during the night, but you should never bank on them being completely silent. If you are a light sleeper or are annoyed by squeaky or sudden sounds, you will want to find them a space where they can enjoy their nocturnal activities without waking anyone up.
How Long Do Guinea Pigs Sleep at Night?
Guinea pigs only sleep in 10-30 minute bursts, both during the day and night. They will nap rather than sleep, interspersing periods of activity with periods of light sleep.
Guinea pigs aren’t likely to sleep through the night, nor to sleep for longer than half an hour at a time. While they are certainly no longer in as much danger in your care as they are in the wild, life-saving habits are hard to shake.
What Do Guinea Pigs Do at Night?
Guinea pigs do at night what they do during the day: eat, drink, play, run around and squeak. They will certainly not be quiet and still while you sleep.
Guineas don’t have long periods of rest, followed by long periods of activity. They sleep around 6 hours a day, sometimes even less, which means they will be awake for most of the night.
To make sure they don’t get too bored, hungry or thirsty, you need to ensure there is plenty of nourishment available in their hutch, and that they have some entertainment available too.
Should I Cover My Guinea Pig at Night?
You don’t need to cover your guinea pigs during the night. If you think they may be getting cold, you can cover just a part of their cage or hutch.
Guinea pigs don’t need to be in the dark during the night, so there is no need to cover them. In fact, their cage needs proper ventilation, so covering it could make it quite stifling in there.
If you are worried they may get cold, try to provide a bed or a small hideout they can snuggle in to keep warm.
Should I Leave a Light on For My Guinea Pig at Night?
Guinea pigs don’t require a night light, so you don’t have to leave one on for them. While they can’t see well in the dark, their other senses will help them navigate their cage.
Guineas will use their whiskers and sense of smell and rely on spatial memory to get around their home when it’s dark, so you don’t have to worry about them.
In fact, turning the light off will be beneficial, as it simulates the wild, i.e. they will have a sunrise and a sunset, and be able to get better quality sleep when they do nap in the night.
When Are Guinea Pigs the Most Active?
Most guinea pigs are most active at dawn and dusk, which is a trait they have inherited from their wild cousins. If you make a lot of noise or are very active yourself at this time, they will love some attention.
In the wild, a guinea pig is the most difficult to spot as the sun is rising or setting. Most small animals will venture out at this time to eat, drink and get some exercise, so to speak. The domestic guinea pig will do the same, simply because this is the knowledge it has inherited from its predecessors.
What Time Do Guinea Pigs Go to Sleep?
Guinea pigs don’t have a specific sleeping schedule, and will take short power naps when it suits them. These will often coincide with their owner’s habits.
Guinea pigs tend to be awake when you are at your most active. When you slow down and go to bed yourself, they will likely take a nap too.
How Long Do Guinea Pigs Nap?
Guinea pigs usually nap between 10 and 30 minutes, sometimes a bit longer, when the place is quiet. They will rarely sleep much longer than that, but can take naps just a couple of minutes long.
Guineas are most active at dawn and dusk. They will often take longer naps after this burst of activity. Shorter naps are indicated when you are around and there is a chance of interaction.
If you have two guinea pigs, they will likely adopt the same sleeping schedule, as they won’t want to disturb each other. They will also most likely cuddle together for warmth and comfort.
How Do You Know a Guinea Pig is Sleepy?
A sleepy guinea pig will often start to craft itself a comfy bed, or if they have a bed, will retreat to it. They may also yawn or chirp.
Guinea pigs exhibit the same signs of sleepiness like most other animals. They will yawn, settle down somewhere comfortable and slowly snooze away.
How to Know When a Guinea Pig is Asleep?
You will be able to tell your guinea pig is asleep by their extreme calmness. As they sleep with their eyes open, if you notice they are inactive, they are probably asleep.
Guinea pigs will usually settle themselves down somewhere comfortable, or lie next to each other when they are napping. However, since they sleep for such short intervals, you may never be quite sure you’ve caught them asleep. Don’t worry though, guineas do get enough rest, despite the short sleep cycles that seem so strange to us.
Why Do Guinea Pigs Sleep So Little?
Guinea pigs are prey animals, and will sleep in short cycles to do their best to avoid their predators. This remains true even when there is no hunter in sight.
In the wild, prey animals will try to avoid the times of day when their predators are likely out hunting. They will lay low, though not quite asleep, and only become active when there is the least chance they will be killed.
This is why guinea pigs are so active at dawn and dusk, when their predators are falling asleep or just waking up. Were they to be active during the night, their chances of survival would be much lower.
They have conditioned themselves to survive on little sleep, to give themselves the best shot of avoiding any predators that may spot them in the wild.
Since animal knowledge is transmitted from one generation to another through their genetic makeup, our pet guinea pigs have the same sleep needs, and will be just fine napping a couple of minutes at a time.
Wrapping It Up
Guinea pigs can make great pets for small children. However, do take into account that you have to find space for their hutch or cage where they won’t be bothering anyone, as they are awake a large portion of the night.