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Do Guinea Pigs Sleep With Their Eyes Open?

As you walk by your guinea pig’s cage, you may notice that they appear to be constantly awake. Their eyes are always open anyway. 

Does this mean that your pet is actually sleeping with its eyes open? Do they feel that unsafe in your company and need to stay continuously vigilant? How do guinea pigs sleep, now that you mention it? 

Do Guinea Pigs Sleep With Their Eyes Open?

Guinea pigs do sleep with their eyes open more often than not. They rarely close them at all actually. This instinctive habit helps them stay alert and ready to bolt at a moment’s notice. 

As you know, guinea pigs are rodents, and as such, they are prey animals. In order to survive in the wild, they had to learn to stay as vigilant as possible and to detect an approaching predator as soon as they can. 

This necessity has helped them learn to sleep with their eyes open. This enables them to spot any approaching danger in time to save their own life.

While they are certainly no longer threatened in captivity, we can’t expect them to shed their instincts just because we are here to keep them safe. Don’t take it as a personal affront: your guinea pig is not afraid of you. They are just acting the way a guinea pig should, and you need to embrace them with all their quirks. 

Why Do Guinea Pigs Sleep With Their Eyes Open?

Instinct makes guinea pigs sleep with their eyes open. In the wild, they need to stay constantly vigilant to stay alive, and they can’t simply shake this habit in captivity. 

All rodents are prey animals and have been forced to develop various skills to survive. One of them happens to be sleeping with their eyes open. We humans used to set watchmen to keep an eye out on the sleeping tribe. Animals have outwitted us and learned to sleep while still able to see everything going on around them. 

Think of this ability as your guinea pig’s superpower. 

Do Guinea Pigs Always Sleep With Their Eyes Open?

Guinea pigs may sleep with their eyes closed once they feel completely safe and comfortable in their surroundings. Some will never close their eyes during sleep though, so don’t be surprised if you never see the lids of your pet piggy.

If your guinea pig is sleeping with its eyes closed, you can consider it the ultimate sign of trust. It means they are feeling completely at ease and safe in your home, so much so that they are willing to risk deep, closed eye sleep in your presence. 

Most guinea pigs are rather on the timid and terrified side though, so don’t take it personally if your guinea pig never closes its eyes. If they have had a bad experience in the pet store or with a previous owner, they may need a long time to learn to relax. 

Is It Normal For Guinea Pigs To Sleep With Their Eyes Open?

It is perfectly normal for guinea pigs to sleep with their eyes open. It’s absolutely no cause for alarm, and there is no need to worry about your pet: they are getting enough sleep. 

If you are new to guinea pig ownership, you may be weirded out by their habit to sleep with their eyes open. You really need to pay it no attention though, and don’t bother your guinea pig if you notice they are very still, but their eyes are still open. They are probably just napping, and you don’t need to check their welfare. 

Your guinea pig may at some point start to feel much more comfortable with you and sleep with their eyes closed sometimes. This does however not mean that they won’t also sleep with their eyes open at other times, especially when there is a lot of activity in your home. 

How Do Guinea Pigs Sleep With Their Eyes Open?

When sleeping with their eyes open, guinea pigs aren’t actively looking at their surroundings. They will however detect movement and be jolted out of their nap. 

While sleeping with our eyes open may be completely inconceivable to us, it’s perfectly normal for guinea pigs. Their eyes and brains just work differently, so they are able to rest while still keeping a watchful eye out. 

Guinea pigs usually take very short naps (5-10 minutes at a time on average). They will fall asleep and wake back up throughout the day and night. As they get more used to your routine, they may be more sleepy in the evening, but they will never sleep for hours on end. It’s just not in their DNA. 

Guinea pigs also sleep either in a standing position or at least in one that allows them to jump and run if they ever need to. 

When Do Guinea Pigs Sleep With Their Eyes Closed?

Guinea pigs sleep with their eyes closed when they feel completely safe and comfortable. If you notice your pet sleeping with closed eyes, consider it a sign you are an excellent piggy parent.

Don’t expect your new guinea pig friend to sleep with its eyes closed. It can take years to relax into the habit. Some guinea pigs are naturally more skittish and may never learn to do it, even if they do fully trust you. 

How Often Do Guinea Pigs Sleep With Closed Eyes?

Guinea pigs don’t often sleep with their eyes closed. They may do so at night, when no one is around to see them, or after spending years in your care. 

Once a guinea has gotten completely used to their new home and your presence, you may catch them having a bit of literal shuteye during the day as well. Don’t bank on it though, as it may take years. 

The more time they spend in your home and in your presence, the more relaxed pet guinea pigs will become. If your treat them with love and care, they may relax into sleeping with closed eyes. 

How Can I Tell My Guinea Pig is Asleep?

You will be able to tell your guinea pig is asleep if they are completely still, if their whiskers and ears are twitching and if they have retreated to their hideout.

Considering guinea pigs most often sleep with their eyes open, it can be very hard to tell if they are awake or not. However, there are usually a couple of signals you can watch out for. 

A guinea pig will be completely still when sleeping. As they are usually rather active, you’ll notice when they have calmed down.

Their whiskers and ears will twitch too, and their eyes will move around a lot. This is REM, just like the kind we experience, which is slightly less creepy since our eyes are in fact closed. 

Guinea pigs also rarely sleep in the open, so if they have retreated into an enclosed space, they are probably off for a snooze. 

Can Guinea Pigs Close Their Eyes?

Yes, guinea pigs can close their eyes, they just choose not to do it very often. They have perfectly functional eyelids. 

Guinea pigs have been conditioned to stay on constant alert, given the fact that they are prey animals and can be hunted down and eaten by a large number of predators in the wild. Since they have zero defense mechanisms, keeping their eyes closed is their way of fighting back and fleeing on time. 

Guinea pigs will thus close their eyes only when they feel there is no danger about. If you spot them snoozing with eyes closed, consider yourself long overdue for a “best piggy parent” award. Get yourself a mug! 

Do Guinea Pigs Have Any Other Interesting Sleeping Habits?

Guinea pig sleep is quite odd to us. Not only do they sleep with their eyes open, they sleep for very short periods, very lightly, and at all times of day and night (when there are no threats around). 

Considering the fact that guinea pigs are located at the very bottom of the food chain, they have had to adapt their sleeping habits to give them the biggest survival chances. 

This means they only sleep for very short periods of time. They need between 4 and 6 hours of sleep per day, which they will get in 5-10 minute intervals. 

Older piggies usually sleep longer than young ones, as they are more accustomed to their surroundings. 

Guinea pigs also sleep very lightly, and are ready for action at the lightest sound. The faster they are able to react, the higher the chances they will survive, so they have become super fast and alert. In the wild west, they would probably have been one of the fastest draws around. 

Guinea pigs are both crepuscular (not nocturnal), meaning they are the most active at dawn and dusk, when their predators are likely to have more difficulty spotting them, and polyphasic, which means they sleep multiple times during the day. 

These habits help them conserve their energy and stay as alert as possible. 

Wrapping It Up 

If you catch your guinea pig sleeping with their eyes open, don’t be alarmed. It’s just their way of staying alive. Over time, they may get so comfortable in your presence that they start to snooze with their eyes closed, but even if they never do, don’t worry. They will still love to spend time with you. 

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