Are Guinea Pigs Nocturnal Animals? (No! – Here’s Why)

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If you plan to get guinea pigs as your pets, I suggest you first research how to handle them properly. Simply because you don’t want to spend the night worrying about them, right?

Speaking of night, are guinea pigs nocturnal?

The short answer is no. Nocturnal animals are active at night and sleep during the day. However, guinea pigs are not like those.

Does it mean they are diurnal (active during the day and resting at night)? Basically, guinea pigs are neither nocturnal nor diurnal?

Guinea pigs usually sleep and stay partially active regardless of whether it is day or night.

Now that you know guinea pigs are not nocturnal, does it mean you don’t have to worry about them at night?

Throughout this article, you will find out what kind of sleeping pattern they have. You will also know the answer to the frequently asked questions about the sleep of guinea pigs. Sounds interesting?

So, keep on reading until the end to find out the truth about the sleep of these tiny cuddly pets.

Why Do Guinea Pigs Sleep So Little?

Guinea pigs sleep so little because it is their lifestyle or it is what they are used to. Sounds confusing? Let’s dig deeper into the lifestyle of the guinea pigs to further understand it.

Just like what was mentioned earlier, guinea pigs are neither nocturnal nor diurnal. They are in fact crepuscular. Let’s unlock the following terms:

Sleep Patterns for Animals

sleep pattern for animals
Photo Source: PNAS
  • Diurnal – animals are active in the day and rest during the night.

Examples: humans, dogs, and elephants

  • Nocturnal – animals are asleep in the day and awake in the night.

Examples: foxes, owls, and bats

  • Cathemeral – animals are having irregular sleep-wake habits during day and night.

Examples: bobcats, mountain lions, and frogs

  • Crepuscular – animals are most active during twilight.

Examples: guinea pigs, nighthawk, American woodcock

Two Types of Crepuscular Animals

  • Matutinal – animals are active during dawn.
  • Vespertine – animals are active during dusk.

Guinea pigs fall under crepuscular because they are active during twilight. Twilight is the interval between dawn and sunrise or dusk and sunset. Yes, these are the periods when they are so active.

I know you are now thinking, what do guinea pigs do to those times beyond dust and dawn, right?

Well, they have a unique sleeping habit (from time to time they take naps). You read it right, so every now and then expect them to be asleep or awake.

Why did guinea pigs develop this unique sleeping behavior? Some of the reason is their environment (if they are comfortable or not) and their status as predator and prey. Interesting, right?

Moreover, this kind of sleeping behavior is natural to guinea pigs. It is what they inherited from their ancestors that are used to being prey to many carnivorous animals.

They develop this sleeping habit to protect themselves from predators in the wild.

What Do Guinea Pigs Do At Night?

At night, guinea pigs do play, run, eat, poop, drink water, and pee. Even though they wake up at night, they are less active when it’s dark.

One of the most remarkable things that they do (based on several observations) is that they drink water.

With that being said, don’t forget to refill their water bowl or water bottle. If ever you heard a noise from their water source, they are definitely thirsty and they want to drink.

You can also put Vitamin C drops on their drinks for better health.

Just a reminder, the noise that they might do could be loud enough to wake you up. Yes, you are right with what you are thinking now.

That’s why it is suggested to assure that they have enough water before you sleep or do not put them in the same room where you sleep.

Do Guinea Pigs Prefer To Sleep In The Dark Or Light?

Guinea pigs love to sleep in the dark. Yes, although they can sleep in the light too, they feel more secure in a darker environment than in light.

Since they are prey to many predators, they feel safer sleeping in an environment where they feel like they are not seen.

Moreover, guinea pigs usually take naps for around 2-10 minutes. However, they take long naps when they are in dark places.

So, better put roof covering in their cage to provide a darker ambiance and to help them sleep with comfort (just make sure they have proper ventilation too).

How Long Do Guinea Pigs Sleep?

guinea pigs time
Photo Source: Kavee

Throughout the whole day (24 hours), guinea pigs usually spend a total of four (4) to six (6) hours of sleep.

Note that it is not continuous; it is a combination of several power naps that range from 2-10 minutes. Yes, they are just so expert when it comes to taking short sleep or naps.

The interval in between their naps could last for as long as 30 minutes (only happens when they are so comfortable with their environment or very sleepy).

One of the indicators that your guinea pig feels safe with you is when they sleep longer than usual. So, better observe the sleeping time of your cuddly pet from now on.

Furthermore, the four (4) to six (6) hours of sleep is what guinea pigs need to stay healthy. They can take naps as quickly as a couple of minutes.

If you want to let them have a longer nap time, make sure you put them in dark and quiet places (as they are sensitive to noise when sleeping).

In addition, the nap time of the guinea pigs could be affected by their age. The younger guinea pigs tend to sleep shorter for they love to spend their time doing their stuff and they are still adjusting to their environment.

Yeah, they enjoy their time and stay cautious at the same time.

On the other hand, older guinea pigs tend to sleep longer. Considering they are old pets (meaning they have been comfortably living in the same environment for a long time), they don’t worry much about their safety.

Basically, we can say that they have trust issues that only time and care could change.

How Do Guinea Pigs Sleep?

guinea pig open eyes sleep
Photo Source: Pinterest

Guinea pigs can sleep in their unusual “awake” position. You might be wondering now how could it be sleeping if it is in an awake position, right?

Well, let’s find out more about their odd sleeping position.

While in this awake position, they sleep with their heads leaning forward. They can stay alert while sleeping in this position. In fact, they can quickly wake up from any kind of movement or noise.

Well, guinea pigs were born ready. That is the best way to describe their alertness to any form of threat or danger. So the next time you see them in this position, it means they are sleeping.

Furthermore, they can close their eyes while sleeping too. However, they would only do it if they feel safe and comfortable in their environment.

So, if you want to let them have a worry-free sleep, give them care and love for them to feel safe and sound.

Where Do Guinea Pigs Sleep?

burrow in the forest
Photo Source: Rivers of Carbon

As wild animals, guinea pigs sleep in burrows (a hole or tunnel that serves as animal shelters). On the other hand, as domesticated pets, they sleep on their artificial cage beddings.

Let’s dig further information about their places to sleep.

In the wild, they don’t make their own burrows, unlike rabbits. But they don’t mind using other animals’ burrows (it’s like they borrow burrows).

They can also use natural-made burrows (existing burrows in nature).

In captivity, they can sleep almost anywhere. Moreover, you can put some wooden or metallic platforms in their cage to copy the feeling of their natural habitat.

Also, you can use hay to create nest-like bedding (which is also eaten by them).

Just a friendly piece of advice, avoid using plastic-made materials for their beddings (including plastic-made polyester).

Simply because they can bring danger to your pet when they eat it, considering they love to nibble from time to time.

How To Make Your Guinea Pig Sleep?

sleeping guinea pigs
Photo Source: Pinterest

If you want to make your guinea pig sleep on their own, here’s the list of steps that you should do:

1. Make comfortable bedding for them.

2. Put a cover on their roof with good ventilation.

3. Put the cage in a place, where it’s dark and quiet.

On the other hand, if you want them to sleep while you hold them, here’s the list of steps that you should do.

1. Pick it up, hold it against your chest to make him feel more secure.

2. Settle down in a quiet place when you’re ready to make it sleep.

3. Use your other hand to stroke its head and back repeatedly with gentle movements.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Here are some of the questions that most people ask about guinea pigs’ sleep habits.

Are Guinea Pigs Loud At Night?

Yes, guinea pigs can be loud at night. It’s not as loud as the bark of the dogs. But if you are someone with high sensitivity to your environment when you sleep, it could be annoying and you might wake up.

My recommendation for you is to not put the cage in your bedroom. But if you are a deep sleeper and can tolerate loud sounds then, there is no problem at all.

Just make sure you give it enough food and water before you sleep.

Some of the things that could make loud noise are their feeding bowl and drinking bowl or bottle.

With that, I don’t recommend you to give them a metallic-made bowl or bottle. It could be ceramic or anything related.

Moreover, they would only make noise with the mentioned stuff if those are empty. As you have read above, they are awake at some points during the nighttime, so they do the same things as during the daytime.

And that includes playing, eating, pooping, drinking, peeing, and more.

Do Guinea Pigs Keep You Up At Night?

No, but it still depends on how you can handle them and tolerate your guinea pigs. Since they are awake at night, they will do the same stuff they do during the day.

So, if you don’t want to have disturbed sleep at night don’t put them in the same room where you rest.

On the other hand, if you can tolerate noise, there would be no problem. Just like what was mentioned before, just make sure they have enough food and water and everything will be okay.

Then, you can sleep with no worries at all.

Are Guinea Pigs Nocturnal In The Wild?

No, guinea pigs are crepuscular no matter where they are. They are active the most during twilight or dawn and dusk.

For the rest of the day and night, they do several power naps until they complete four to six hours of sleep that they need.

There are a few differences though with their sleeping environment.

In the wild, they sleep in the burrow left by other animals or in naturally-made burrows. But in captivity, they sleep anywhere inside their cages.

Why Do The Guinea Pigs Sleep With Their Eyes Wide Open?

Guinea pigs sleep with their eyes wide open because they want to be alert from any form of threat.

In this state, they can easily wake up when they sense any form of movement and sound. Basically, they do this to avoid and protect themselves from danger.

On the other hand, they can also sleep with their eyes closed. However, they would only do this if they form a strong trust and comfort in their environment.

It’s not an instant process, for it requires time, care, and love for them to develop it.

Final Thoughts

In this article, you have learned that guinea pigs are not nocturnal. They are in fact crepuscular, meaning they are most active during twilight or dawn and dust.

Also, you cannot expect them to be active during the day and sleep at night for long periods.

Furthermore, you learned that several factors can affect their sleep. Some of these are their age, environment, and natural behavior.

Nonetheless, they are simply care-seeking animals and it is truly a joy to love them.

All pets deserve to be taken care of and to be loved. No matter how they look they still deserve special affection. Let’s make an environment where pets could live happily with no worries. 

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