Guinea pigs are popular pets worldwide. These adorable furry potatoes make excellent pets and can be ideal companions for many people. However, it’s best to learn as much about these animals as possible to care for them as best as we can. This leads many to wonder if guinea pigs are nocturnal or if they are more active during the day.
Guinea pigs are not nocturnal, nor are they diurnal. Guinea pigs are crepuscular, meaning they are most active at dawn and dusk. They sleep for short periods throughout the day and night. Guinea pigs sleep longer at night, but rarely more than 30 minutes at a time.
Taking good care of guinea pigs means understanding when they are most active and when they should be getting rest. Every animal has specific needs and requirements, and guinea pigs are no different. The daily routines and habits of guinea pigs are interesting and worth understanding if you’re considering bringing your first guinea pigs home.
Are Guinea Pigs Nocturnal?
Guinea pigs have somewhat strange sleeping habits. Anyone with guinea pigs may notice that they never sleep for very long and they often sleep at odd times. This behavior leads many to wonder if guinea pigs are nocturnal or if they are more active during the day.
Guinea pigs are technically crepuscular, which means they are more active during dawn and dusk. However, they appear diurnal and are usually active and alert during the day. Guinea pigs have a very flexible sleep schedule, meaning they can adapt to most people’s routines.
Guinea pigs have evolved to sleep for short periods of time, typically when they feel safe to do so. They have short cat-naps throughout both the day and night, but typically sleep more throughout the night when it is quietest. However, you are likely to hear them up periodically throughout the night stretching their legs and munching on hay.
From an evolutionary standpoint, guinea pigs have evolved to be more active when fewer predators are on the hunt. Guinea pigs are herbivores, which means they do not rely on specific times of day or night to feed and always have food available regardless of the time. This means they can be active whenever they feel it is safest to venture out and eat.
Of course, pet guinea pigs are a bit more lenient on this than their wild counterparts, but some of that instinct remains in pet guinea pigs. However, domesticated guinea pigs are a bit more lax in their survival skills which makes them unsuited for life in the wild, but better as pets in regular households.
How Long Do Guinea Pigs Sleep At Night?
Guinea pigs do not sleep straight throughout the night. Rather, they sleep in short bursts usually between 20-30 minutes at a time, and get up periodically to forage and eat.
However, guinea pigs usually sleep for longer stretches and more frequently at night, especially when kept as pets. Guinea pigs tend to sleep for longer periods when they feel safe, which means that pet guinea pigs usually sleep longer than their wild counterparts.
Guinea pigs only require about 4-6 hours of full sleep in a 24-hour period. Approximately 3+ hours of this usually occurs at night. However, pet guinea pigs may sleep longer than this if they are kept in a quiet environment and feel safe. Older guinea pigs will usually sleep significantly longer and often fall into deeper slumbers than their younger counterparts.
Guinea pigs generally adapt to the household routine and sleep more often when their people are asleep or when it’s calm and quiet (like when the humans go to work/school.) Piggies are very adaptable and generally fall into a routine that fits their environment.
Guinea pigs tend to sleep for short bursts of time, waking up frequently to eat a bit before going back to sleep. They are also very light sleepers and wake up very easily to noises or a change in their environment.
How Much Sleep Do Guinea Pigs Need?
If guinea pigs do not sleep for long periods, do they get enough sleep? How much sleep do they actually need?
Guinea pigs are relatively inactive when compared to other rodents of a similar size. This means that guinea pigs are generally good at conserving energy and do not need as much sleep as some other animals.
However, you’ll often notice them settle down and sleep after a big activity like coming out to explore or play for floor time. If your guinea pigs get a lot of interaction on a daily basis, they will also need equal periods of quiet time to rest and recoup.
As mentioned above, most guinea pigs only require 4-6 hours of sleep in a 24-hour period. This means that guinea pigs will sleep intermittently throughout the day and night, and all of these naps will accumulate between 4 and 6 hours of sleep in total. However, guinea pigs also tend to spend a lot of additional time lounging around and resting even when they are not fully asleep.
Being crepuscular animals, you’re likely to find them most active around dawn and dusk, but otherwise, they will sleep whenever there are quiet periods during the day and night. Finding your guinea pig sleeping at nearly any time of the day or night is not unusual or concerning.
Guinea pigs may also adjust their sleeping habits and how much sleep they get depending on the season and their health.
Why Do Guinea Pigs Not Sleep For Long Periods?
Guinea pigs rarely sleep for longer than 30 minutes at one time. This behavior may seem odd, which leads some guinea pig owners to wonder why their pets sleep this way.
The reason why guinea pigs sleep for short periods of time rather than for long stretches throughout the night is that they are prey animals for multiple predatory species.
This means that guinea pigs must remain as active and alert as possible at all times. If guinea pigs sleep for a long time, they become more susceptible to predation, but if they only sleep lightly for a short time, they are more likely to wake up and detect danger.
This is also why guinea pigs rarely blink or close their eyes, even when sleeping! Their eyes can detect subtle movement and enable them to wake up and get to safety much faster.
Guinea pigs are crepuscular, meaning they are most active at dawn and dusk. Guinea pigs get the bulk of the sleep they need during short power naps throughout the day and night. The sleep patterns of guinea pigs can be confusing, but these animals have evolved to sleep this way to keep themselves safe from potential predators.
Guinea pigs have evolved much differently from humans, and as a result, they see the world in a much different way. For example, guinea pigs can detect motion much faster than us, and they can even see almost entirely around their body without moving their head! To discover more about how guinea pigs see, check out our article called How Well Can Guinea Pigs See?