For us hoomans, there’s nothing more satisfying than snuggling up in our beds to rest after a long day. Sleep is essential for our health as it recharges and restores us, preparing us to face the next day. But what about your guinea pig? Do they like to sleep at night like us, and can they sleep for a similar length of time?
Other furry friends in your household may have more obvious routines. For example, your dog sleeps alongside you through the night (diurnal), while your cat comes to life at sunset (nocturnal). Even the piggy’s furry cousins - hamsters - are clearly most active at night with their running-on-a-wheel routine that kickstarts around 3am.
One of the most intriguing mysteries about guinea pigs, however, is that they never seem to snooze. Or at least, if they do, it’s hard to spot! That’s because piggies sleep both during the day and night so they don’t fall into an obvious sleep pattern. So how can you make sure that you don’t disturb their natural rhythms and let them get some much-needed rest?
Read on for a more in-depth understanding of your sweet piggy’s sleep schedule.
Are Guinea Pigs Nocturnal or Diurnal?
Contrary to popular belief, guinea pigs are not strictly nocturnal. As we briefly touched on, guinea pigs can sleep both during the day and night, making them part diurnal and part nocturnal. However, piggies are especially active early in the morning and early in the evening, so we can more accurately define them as crepuscular.
Definitions aside, the million-dollar question remains: ‘But why do piggies have such an irregular sleep pattern in the first place?’
Before guinea pigs became domesticated a few thousand years ago, they lived in the wild and had to bravely fend for themselves. As ‘prey’ animals, our poor piggies lived in perpetual fear of being hunted and eaten by cunning predators. As such, their sleeping habits are typical of many small mammals that had to watch their backs 24/7.
No matter the time of day, a little wild animal that relaxes into a long, deep slumber leaves themselves incredibly vulnerable to attack. That’s why short bursts of sleep are the preferred sleeping pattern of many guinea pigs. If your piggy sleeps soundly when you’re around, then this is a sure sign that the two of you have an incredible bond of trust. But don’t be too concerned if they’re a little restless and alert as their light-sleeping behavior has been hardwired by their ancestors in order to keep them safe.
How long do guinea pigs sleep?
Unlike their hooman companions, piggies only need around four hours of sleep per day. And if you so much as blink, you may just miss it! To recharge their batteries, guinea pigs will only sleep for a few moments here and there.
Fun fact: The phrase ‘sleeping with one eye open’ takes on a very literal meaning when it comes to your fretful piggy. The piggies’ inherited need to always be alert means that, to this day, they still often fall asleep with their eyes wide open! Sometimes, they even nap standing up. No wonder it’s so difficult to tell when your poor furball is resting!
How often do guinea pigs sleep?
One thing’s for certain: your piggy pal has really mastered the art of the power nap. On average, guinea pigs have up to 6-10 mini naps throughout the day and night. These speedy snoozes typically last a mere 15-30 minutes at a time.
How to Deal With Your Guinea Pig’s Sleeping Schedule
All cavies tend to fall into these general sleeping patterns but remember that each piggy has their own individual wants and needs. Your sweet furbaby probably has their preferred sleeping schedule and, if you’d like to find out what it is, then it’s a good idea to keep an eye on your piggy over time to get to grips with their habits. To be a responsible piggy parent, you need to respect your guinea pig’s sleep schedule and create an environment in which they feel as comfortable and relaxed as possible.
Align with your guinea pig’s sleeping pattern
Firstly, to understand your piggy’s sleep schedule, try to pay closer attention to when they like to nap. This will vary piggy by piggy and, for example, if you notice that your pig seems to naturally want to curl up with some quiet time every day around 3pm, then do your best not to disturb them during this time.
As we’ve established, a guinea pig nap usually lasts for just 15-30 minutes a time, and they probably have around 6-10 little recharges during the day. It’s therefore going to be difficult to notice all of these fleeting moments! So you’ll want to do your best to at least try and identify the most common napping times.
Just to complicate things a bit further, piggy patterns can change both temporarily or permanently. This usually isn’t anything for concern. For example, if your piggy is getting older, they may need a bit more shut-eye than in their younger years.
However, if you notice any major changes to their sleep routine or they seem to be napping a lot longer than usual, it might be worth getting them checked out by a cavy-savvy vet!
Pay attention to when your guinea pigs are sleepy
There are a few signs you can watch out for to find out if your piggy is feeling sleepy:
- They make a low, chirping noise.
- They start circling in a cozy corner of their cage to create a comfortable spot for a snooze.
- You notice them kicking or moving the shavings around in their cage to make sure their bed is just right.
- They take a big yawn (not to be mistaken for a simple stretch of the jaw muscles!)
Don’t disturb your guinea pigs during their sleeping hours
Going about your daily life as normal shouldn’t affect your guinea pig’s sleep. However, it’s always best to keep your guinea pig in a quieter, less stressful room of your home where possible. And when it comes to your piggy’s naptime, it’s kindest to stop holding, fussing or playing with them when you know they’re ready for a rest.
Warning signs to watch out for would be if your guinea pig goes off their food, acts sluggish or lethargic with limited movement, or is silent. This may indicate that your poor piggy is tired and hasn’t gotten enough sleep.
Ask yourself if there are any reasons that spring to mind as to why this could have happened. Is your pig in a spot where they can’t help but be continually disturbed? Or has your house been particularly noisy recently? If you can’t come up with any obvious answers, a trip to the vet is in order ASAP.
Keep in mind your guinea pigs can be active during the night
While you may be trying to get some quality sleep at night, remember that your piggy could be wide awake! They can make considerable noise at night, which will be frustrating if you’re not a heavy sleeper.
All cages will make some noise, but a premium quality cage will be less squeaky than others. Here at Kavee, we provide a selection of cages that are built with durability, robustness, and your piggy’s needs in mind. You can browse for the perfect piggy palace here.
Last but not least, you’ll also want to carefully consider the toys you give your pig. Many of these can make a racket when you’re trying to wind down for bed.
Guinea Pig Sleep FAKs - Frequently Asked Kavees
Do guinea pigs sleep at night?
Yes, but guinea pigs aren’t strictly diurnal or nocturnal. These flighty little floofers take short power naps during the night and also during the day.
How long do guinea pigs sleep?
Piggies typically nap for 15-30 minutes at a time. They don’t need as much time to rest and recharge as most other mammals and rely on just 4 hours of deep sleep a day.
How often do guinea pigs sleep?
It’s fair to say that guinea pigs sleep a little and often. Naps are their forte, and they can fall into a mini slumber anywhere between 6-10 times a day.