If you keep guinea pigs you may have noticed that the pets rarely sleep. They are wide awake all day and very playful at night, sometimes making noises all night long.
This may even tempt you to leave lights on for them at night. You could be thinking that they are nocturnal creatures.
Are they? Let’s find out.
Animals can either be nocturnal, diurnal, or crepuscular. Most rodents are nocturnal and a guinea pig is a rodent.
Nocturnal animals usually sleep during the day while having most activity at night. Diurnal animals sleep at night while having most activity during the day.
Crepuscular animals, on the other hand, have most of their activity during twilight hours. This is the time between daylight and darkness that is right before sunrise and after sunset.
Being neither nocturnal nor diurnal, your piggy pets lie in the crepuscular category together with cats and rats. Guinea pigs are naturally active during both day and night.
So, do guinea pigs like the dark?
Yes. Guinea pigs actually like the dark more than they do the light. Being vulnerable prey to many predator creatures, they do prefer staying in the dark because it provides them with cover. They feel safe and secure in dark places knowing that their predators cannot see them.
Their natural instincts help them to sense danger and stay alert at all times. Their predators include snakes and hawks.
How do guinea pigs see in the dark?
It’s a matter of debate whether guinea pigs see in the dark or not. Generally, they have really poor eyesight that can only see to a distance of 3-5 feet.
They cannot see who you are from a distance, that’s why guinea pigs will always be scared when someone walks towards them even if they are familiar with the person. They will see a blurred figure and not easily recognize a person at first.
Depth and distance are also hard for guinea pigs to perceive. This is why a guinea pig is scared of being lifted up because they don’t know how far up they are from a steady ground they can stand on.
Still, they have the ability to see and differentiate colours. They are however sensitive to some colours more than others making them able to identify some colours better.
They have a 340-degree angle that enables them to see what’s happening around them whether it’s beside them or even behind them. They can see everything going on without moving their eyes.
Being unable to see below their noses, guinea pigs cannot see their food either. When being fed, they rely on the food’s taste and smell to be able to identify it.
Do they prefer sleeping in the dark?
Yes, guinea pigs always prefer a dark area to sleep. This is because a dark place makes them feel hidden away from any danger so they can comfortably relax and doze off.
Being really fascinating creatures, these pets hardly ever close their eyes. You may notice that their eyes are always open whenever you go to see them, whether it’s during the day or at night.
Guinea pigs have the ability to sleep even with their eyes wide open. They could possibly be sleeping when you see them seemingly staring at the same spot for long without moving.
This is an instinctual mechanism that helps them to always be alert and ready to run away if they see a threat. They are light sleepers and will hear even the slightest of sounds around them.
It is advisable to ensure that your guinea pig is not in a noisy area. Noise not only keeps waking them up but also stresses them.
Their sleeping cycles involve short naps throughout the day and night. The naps are usually around 10 minutes at a time, with older guinea pigs sleeping a little longer than young energetic ones.
How do they move in the dark
Guinea pigs may have poor eyesight but they have really strong hearing and smelling capabilities. These enable them to hear and smell predators from a distance.
Apart from these senses, guinea pigs have a really great memory. They can remember how their tunnels and pathways look like and the locations of their holes and food.
This enables them to move really fast even when they cannot see well because they have perfectly memorized their surroundings.
Their whiskers also help them to sense if something is nearby. Just like rats who rely heavily on whiskers, guinea pigs utilize their whiskers to move around in the dark.
Do they need light?
Guinea pigs may enjoy the dark more but they still need light. Make sure to keep your pet in a place where it can differentiate between day and night.
It is essential for them to be able to know when it’s daytime and when it’s nighttime so that they do not confuse their body clock. This could make them sick.
They do require sunlight but do not keep their cage in a place with direct sunlight, even if it’s by a window indoors. Guinea pigs don’t like that much sun.
Too much sun could give them heatstroke and cause them to die. Always take them out in the mornings and in the evenings which are also the times when they are most active.
You may notice that they will begin to try to hide away from the sun after a while. Have a shade for them to run under if the sun is too much for them and put some water nearby to help cool them down.
Guinea pigs do like the dark. You do not have to keep the lights on for them at night as they can still easily find their way around.
Wherever they are staying, have a dark place for them to hide in so that they may feel secure if they sense danger. In the case of males, try to have separate places for each one to avoid any fights that may arise.