Ever watched your guinea pigs scurrying around day and night and wondered to yourself if they ever sleep? The good news is you are not alone. We regularly receive emails from our readers asking the exact same thing, with some even suggesting that there may be something wrong with their piggy.
The thing is, guinea pigs do sleep, usually between four and six hours a day, but rather than doing it all in one go, they will nap throughout the day and night. They also don’t close their eyes when they are asleep (FOMO much?), which could be another reason piggy parents are concerned by their pets’ sleep habits (or lack thereof).
In this article, we cover everything you ever wanted to know about your guinea pig and sleep, including how much sleep they need, why they don’t sleep with their eyes closed and what the ideal temperature is for them to sleep in. We also look at how you can make them as comfortable as possible when they do catch a few zzz’s.
Ready to get started? Let’s go!
If Guinea Pigs Aren’t Diurnal or Nocturnal, What Are They?
Would you be surprised if we told you that guinea pigs are neither diurnal or nocturnal, but rather a little bit of both? And sometimes they are crepuscular, meaning they are active just the sun starts to set.
Why Do Guinea Pigs Have Odd Sleeping Habits?
To be honest, guinea pigs’ sleeping habits may seem odd to us as humans, but for them, it has got a lot to do with evolution and the way they are programmed. In their natural habitat, cavies are prey animals, which means they need to be aware of their surroundings all the time, or they will end up as another animal’s dinner.
How, when and where they sleep also has a lot to do with their environment. Guinea pigs will be most active when the temperatures are just right when they know potential predators are asleep and where they feel safe enough to catch a quick 40 winks.
How Much Sleep Do Guinea Pigs Need?
To stay healthy, guinea pigs need between four and six hours of sleep a day. However, cavies are kings of the power nap and will usually only sleep a couple of minutes at a time to recharge. Older guinea pigs or those that have settled into a routine may rest for up to 30 minutes at a time.
Why Do Guinea Pigs Sleep With Their Eyes Wide Open?
You know that expression “sleeping with one eye open”? Well, this is precisely what guinea pigs do. As prey animals in their natural habitat, cavies have adapted their behaviour accordingly. Part of this is continually being aware of potential predators, which means they sleep with their eyes wide open.
What Does It Mean If Your Guinea Pig Sleeps With Its Eyes Closed?
You definitely shouldn’t worry if your piggy closes its eyes when it’s sleeping; in fact, you should feel rather chuffed. Guinea pigs will only close their eyes when they trust you and are content in their environment. If your cavy is doing this, you are definitely doing something right.
Do Guinea Pigs Lie Down When They Sleep?
No, guinea pigs don’t lie down when they sleep. Like other animals lower down on the food chain, they are always alert, even when they nap, in case they have to get away from a predator. If you notice your guinea pig is lying on its side longer than usual, it could mean something is wrong. Check with your local vet to put your mind at ease.
Is It Bad If Your Guinea Pig Sleeps A Lot?
Just like the rest of us, guinea pigs need their sleep, but sometimes too much sleep could be a sign of a more serious health issue. If your piggy is spending more time napping than usual, isn’t interested in food and seems to be ‘sulking’, we recommend a visit to the vet.
Symptoms of serious infections such as bacterial pneumonia include lethargy, loss of appetite and depression.
Do Guinea Pigs Like To Sleep In The Dark?
Even though guinea pigs don’t necessarily sleep at night, they definitely like sleeping in the dark. In the wild, they will find a sheltered spot where they can nap, away from hungry animals.
Of course, this isn’t necessary in their hutch, but they still like to burrow into a pile of hay or tuck themselves up in a nest box or tunnel. These safe little hideaways will give your piggy the chance to take a longer nap.
Does A Guinea Pig Sleep More In Winter?
Who doesn’t like to sleep more in winter, right? While guinea pigs don’t hibernate like hedgehogs, they do spend more time cuddled up with their hutch mates. This is because they are conserving energy to stay warm rather than running around.
During the colder months, it is essential to keep a close eye on your guinea pigs. If the temperature drops, it may cause some serious health issues and even death.
What Temperature Is Too Cold For Guinea Pigs To Sleep In?
According to the RSPCA, anything below 15° is too cold for guinea pigs. If your pets are in an outdoor hutch, they must have adequate bedding to stay warm, other piggies to cuddle up with as well as a hutch cover.
H&R has a wide range of hutch huggers and insulators to choose from.
What Is The Ideal Temperature For Guinea Pigs To Sleep In?
Think of your guinea pig as the baby bear in Goldilocks and The Three Bears when it comes to the correct temperature. The ideal temperature should be between 17-20°C. Not too hot or too cold, but just right.
Warmer is definitely better; however, they should never be kept in direct sunlight or too close to a heat source such as a fireplace, heater or stove.
What Bedding Is Best For Guinea Pigs?
For your piggies to get the best possible sleep, you must have the correct bedding. Fleece is an excellent option – it is eco-friendly, works out more affordable in the long run, and is super comfy.
This article will help you swap from hay bedding to fleece.
Don’t forget to place plenty of hay in and around the hutch. Guinea pigs love nibbling on the stuff, and they also like burrowing into it when they sleep.
How Often Should Your Guinea Pig’s Bedding Be Changed?
You should do regular spot checks throughout the day and remove wet or soiled bedding straight away. Replace dirty and damp bedding once a week, or if you are using fleece, pop it in the laundry on the weekend.
Once a month, you should do a deep clean. This includes removing all the bedding, food bowls, water bottles as well and toys and cleaning everything with an animal-friendly disinfectant.
What Can I Do To Make Sure My Guinea Pigs Are Getting The Sleep They Need?
This is such a great question. It means you are a responsible pet owner and that you really care about your guinea pigs. Here are a couple of ways you can make sure your piggies are getting enough rest.
Keep them busy
Because guinea pigs only sleep between four and six hours a day, they should have plenty to do to keep themselves busy when they are awake. Their cage or hutch should be a good size, and they should also have a run where they can exercise.
Take a look here to find out how large their cage should be.
To stop them from getting bored, we suggest tunnels and chew treats and little hideouts where they can relax. And don’t forget quality time with you. Guinea pigs are social creatures and love playing and cuddling with their ‘pawrents’.
Keep the noise down
To make sure your furry friends are getting all the sleep they need, you should place their cage away from loud or constant noise. Because cavies are always on high alert, if there are too many disruptions around they will stay in ‘flight’ mode and not rest.
Keep their cage clean
For your piggies to be healthy and happy, their cage needs to be regularly cleaned. We suggest spot checks every day, replacing old or dirty bedding once a week, and a deep clean once a month.
Leaving wet or soiled bedding in your guinea pig’s cage can leave them feeling uncomfortable and prone to various diseases, including bumblefoot and pneumonia.
Can My Guinea Pig Sleep In My Bed With Me?
Who wouldn’t want to snuggle up with their guinea pig at night? After all, they are the cuddliest pets ever. Unfortunately, it is not the best idea. Here’s why.
- Guinea pigs poop and pee a lot. And often. They have a favourite spot or a litter box where they can ‘go’ in their cage. If they sleep with you, your bed will become their toilet.
- Guinea pigs are active during the night as well as throughout the day. And this includes eating, drinking and running around. Your sleep will be disturbed with their squeaks and scurrying, and while guinea pigs don’t require a lot of sleep, you definitely do.
- As hardy as cavies are, there is a chance you will roll onto your pet during the night. This can result in your guinea pig getting seriously hurt or worse.
So there you have it – everything you need, and want to know about your guinea pig’s sleeping habits. If you have a sleep-related question for us, please feel free to ask it in the comments below and we will try and answer it as best we can.
Don’t forget to sign up to our newsletter for awesome articles, special offers and members-only rewards!