Are Guinea Pigs Nocturnal or Diurnal?
Even if you pay close attention to your guinea pigs you may not ever see them sleeping. The longer you have your guinea pigs the more concerned you may be that they are not getting enough sleep. In fact, guinea pigs are a good choice of pet for active kids because they are awake and ready to play at just about any time of the day or night.
Most pet owners assume because of this that guinea pigs must sleep at night and stay awake during the day, like many humans. This is called Diurnal. But in truth, there’s more to it than that for guinea pigs.
Are Guinea Pigs Nocturnal?
An animal that sleeps during the day and is awake at night is called a nocturnal animal. You’re probably already aware that raccoons, opossums, and many other small game, as well as hamsters, are awake mostly at night and sleep during the day, which means they are nocturnal. These animals also naturally have better eyesight in the dark.
Being nocturnal works for these small animals and rodents because they also prefer not to be seen or “captured” by people. Since most people are awake during the day, nocturnal animals tuck themselves away in the daytime, usually in a burrow or hollowed out tree, and sleep. Guinea pigs may like to burrow but they are not really nocturnal.
Are Guinea Pigs Diurnal?
But, just because you never see your guinea pigs sleep during the day and they aren’t nocturnal, doesn’t mean they are diurnal either. Guinea pigs are one of the few animals that are neither nocturnal nor diurnal. They will be most active and alert just as the sun is rising in the morning and as it is going down each night.
Guinea pigs march, or in this case, sleep, to the beat of their own drum. In truth guinea pigs only need about four hours of sleep each day. They are also a very active animal and they prefer to take short power naps, usually about ten minutes in length.
You may catch your guinea pigs lying down for short periods during the day, but their eyes will be open. This may lead you to wonder if they even have eyelids, because you will rarely see a guinea pig with its eyes closed. You may even catch them with their back legs spread out and eyes open, which is a sign that they are completely relaxed.
Is Sleeping During the Day Bad for Guinea Pigs?
If you do see your guinea pigs sleeping during the day, especially with their eyes closed, it is probably a sign that something is wrong. If your guinea pigs seem to be less active during the day and spend a lot more time just lying down, it could be a signal that they are getting sick or have somehow injured themselves.
Lethargy, or excessive fatigue in guinea pigs is cause for alarm and means you need to call your vet and schedule an appointment. Your vet will assess your pet and let you know what may be causing the excessive sleepiness.