Guinea pigs are prey animals that have adjusted themselves through the years to stay alert at all times because of their predators. Their eyes are placed on both sides of their heads giving them 340 degrees of vision.
This vision helps them see what’s happening all around them, though generally, guinea pigs have very poor eyesight. Their eyes are huge and ever open even when they are fast asleep.
Do guinea pigs blink?
Guinea pigs do blink. Their blinking is however not easily noticeable because it happens so fast and it’s so rare at the same time. A guinea pig blinking could easily escape your notice even when you are standing close by.
Blinking helps them to clear and remove debris that could damage their eyes. It’s also a great way of moisturizing their eyes.
Do they have eyelids?
When you go near a guinea pig you will notice that it always has it’s eyes open which may raise the question, do they even have eyelids?
Yes. Guinea pigs do in fact have eyelids though not easily visible.
This is because their blinking is really fast. It’s been said to be faster than a rabbit’s and a human’s blink.
The eyelids are not transparent either like a snake’s. They can be seen in certain moments like when the guinea pig is comfortable enough to blink, to close its eyes, or if the eye is swollen.
A swollen eyelid makes it more visible and though it’s not the best condition for you to notice it, you can easily see the eyelid then.
How do they blink?
Guinea pigs have a unique and highly developed oculomotor system that controls all its eye movements. This system is greatly effective at what it does.
It has the ability to control a guinea pig’s blinking unlike in humans where they can’t control their blinking. The system enables guinea pigs to suppress the urge to blink when they are in a dangerous situation and blinking could hinder their sight.
This is because the simple act of blinking could easily cost a guinea pig it’s life if it’s in the wild. Having predators as fast as hawks could make a quick blink turn fatal as they can be swiftly grabbed in the act.
Guinea pigs are capable of blinking with only one eye. For instance, if only one eye is having an issue, they can blink with it while leaving the other eye wide open for safety reasons.
What makes guinea pigs blink?
Guinea pigs only blink when it is absolutely necessary to do so. Their poor eyesight doesn’t give them the luxury to blink often.
Various reasons that could make your guinea pig blink include:
- Cleaning – it will blink to clean dirt and dust from its eyes. This is just the same as with other animals and humans.
- When irritated – being small and low-level animals, it’s easy for sharp pieces of hay and bedding to get into their eyes. This will prompt them to blink to avoid getting injured.
- Dry conditions – sometimes the environment it is in may make a guinea pig’s eyes to dry up. This will make the guinea pig blink fast to wet the eyes.
Signs of eye infections
Guinea pigs can easily get eye infections. When having these infections, they will have the following signs:
- Frequent blinking – normally, you won’t even notice when your pet blinks. But if it gets an infection, you will see it blinking a lot more than usual.
- Red swollen eyes – The eyes could become red and swollen making the eyelid appear protruded.
- Scratching – if your pet is constantly scratching its eyes, there could be something bothering them.
- Inflammation – the eyes could become inflamed while having a discharge coming from them.
- Teary eyes – if your pet’s eyes look teary, then that could be a sign of infection.
- Closed eyes – normally they won’t even close their eyes but they may start spending a lot of time with their eyes closed if infected.
Eye infection treatments
Eyes infections in guinea pigs could range from mild to serious. Sometimes the situation is not that serious and you could even help out.
For instance, if it’s something like hay in its eye that you can take out, it’s okay to carefully take it out but with utmost care. If you have no idea how to do it, it’s best to call a veterinarian to avoid making things worse for your pet.
Always keep the cage clean. Dirty environments are easy to spread diseases to your pets because dirty particles may get in the eyes and cause infections.
Keep an infected pet away from other pets if you are keeping more than one. This will help you to observe it better, and prevent cross-infections.
If the problem doesn’t seem to get better after a few days, it’s always wise to call up a vet to deal with it.
Guinea pets do blink on occasion. Even though your pet is safe in its cage and not in danger of predators like it would be out in the wild, it is a natural instinct to blink only when totally necessary.
Though humans and other animals need to constantly blink to keep their eyes from drying out, guinea pigs may go for hours on end without blinking. Compared to wild guinea pigs though, pet guinea pigs may tend to blink a little more.
Sometimes you may notice your guinea pig blinking freely when in its cage or even around you. This is a good sign that it feels safe in its environment.
Guinea pig owners may think the piggy’s eyes are very dry because they are always open and try to give it moisturizing eyedrops. This is not okay.
Never give a pet eye drops that have not been recommended by a veterinarian as they could do more harm than good. Human eye drops are also not safe for guinea pigs. Always talk to a vet if your guinea pig is having issues with its eyes.