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Do Guinea Pigs Like The Dark?

by Lucy

Guinea pigs can make the ideal family pet. They are kind in nature, easy to keep, and great for children to be around. They are one of the most popular small pets to keep after rabbits and with their even temperament and cute rodent features we can see why guinea pigs are an absolute hit with any pet loving family.

However, many rodents are considered nocturnal, so you may be wondering if that’s true of your guinea pig, too.

Owning pets that are awake during the night, such as chinchillas, can have its challenges. While the rest of the household (we humans) sleep at night you can be sure your nocturnal pet is wide awake and ready for action.

This can be highly disruptive to the household and something you will carefully want to consider before committing to. We can see why you’d be curious to find out the sleeping and activity levels of these wonderful guineas!

So, do guinea pigs like the dark? Yes, guinea pigs prefer the dark. They are prey animals and can easily be spotted during daylight hours by predators. Although there is not much threat in the home environment you will often find them hiding away during the day. However, guinea pigs are neither nocturnal or diurnal.

In this guide, we’ll explain why guinea pigs are often awake at night, yet aren’t actually nocturnal. We’ll also address some common questions about guinea pig schedules and how to keep them comfortable in the daytime.

Do Guinea Pigs Prefer the Light or the Dark?

Given the choice, a guinea pig would much prefer to be awake at night. This isn’t to say however that they will be awake during the night.

One of the main reasons guinea pigs prefer the dark all boils down to their activities in the wild. There is no doubt about it, being a teeny tiny wild guinea pig in broad daylight leaves this species very vulnerable indeed!

They are prey animals and therefore can be seen much more clearly during the daytime than at night. In the wild, guinea pigs are much safer going about their day to day activities in the dark where they are less visible to predators. Key predators of the guinea pig include cats, birds of prey, wolves, coyotes, and snakes.

During daylight hours it can be difficult for a guinea pig to go about their regular activities. They must spend periods in hiding so as not to be seen and it can be far riskier.

Guinea pigs have extreme alertness to danger meaning even when they are asleep, they are always on their toes. This is why they only sleep for short periods at a time and try to keep themselves as safe as possible.

Are Guinea Pigs Nocturnal?

As surprising as it may be, guinea pigs are not nocturnal, nor are they diurnal (awake all day, like humans).

Guinea pigs are considered crepuscular meaning they are at their most active during twilight hours. These species are not awake strictly during the nighttime or daytime. They are happy to be awake or asleep at any time of the day or night.

You will find that guinea pigs have very different sleeping habits from many other rodents. They tend to have quite scattered sleep patterns. Sometimes you will find your guinea pig asleep for much of the day whilst other times they will sleep much more at night.

There is no rhyme or reason to it.

Because of that, guinea pigs really do live quite a versatile life. You will mostly find that your guinea pig likes to take ‘cat-naps’ between their activities. Sleep periods tend to be short and occur either throughout the day or at night.

Since it is possible your guinea pig may spend some evenings where they are awake for a good proportion of the night, you can expect to hear some activity.

They can be quite noisy, but it should pale in comparison to, say, a chinchilla, whose nighttime antics can wake up the whole household!

Will Guinea Pigs Keep Me Up All Night?

This is quite possibly the million-dollar question. Unfortunately, it is also one that is pretty difficult to answer for sure.

Guinea pigs have ad-hoc habits when it comes to sleeping and being awake. There will be times when you notice that your guinea pig is very active and night and other times where they seem to sleep for most of it.

There isn’t much you can do to change this habit and therefore it is something you will need to accept if you choose to bring this wonderful pet into your life.

During periods when your guinea pig is very active at night you will likely hear some noise coming from the cage. This will usually be in the form of jumping and moving around in the cage in general. However, vocals are not out of the question!

This may be off-putting for some. However, as we said before, chinchillas and other nocturnal animals can be much rowdier at night! The temperament of your guinea can also make a big difference. Some are naturally more rambunctious, active, or vocal than others, just like other animals – or humans!

If you’re a light sleeper, it may be best to keep your guinea pig in a different room. Just be sure no curious cats can get to them!

Can I Make My Guinea Pig Sleep at Night?

Unfortunately, you can’t make your guinea pig sleep at night.

There isn’t much you can do to change the sleeping habits of your guinea pig. You will find that their sleep and activity patterns change consistently. You may go through periods where you notice your guinea pig is awake during the day much more than at night however this can ultimately change at the drop of a hat.

Like we said before, one of the key reasons why guinea pigs choose to sleep somewhat during the day as we mentioned is down to their natural instincts from the wild. Our furry friends are much more visible during daylight and therefore often like to hide away for naps.

Although there isn’t much threat in a household environment, domesticated guinea pigs still seem to have those instinctual feelings of uneasiness and over-exposure in the daytime.

How to Make Guinea Pigs More Comfortable During the Day

Although there is no way of forcing your guinea pig to sleep at night, as owners we can ensure that the environment for our guinea pigs is as comfortable and safe as possible to encourage more activity during the day.

There are a few key ways in which to make your guinea pig feel more comfortable in their surroundings. By doing so may encourage a little more activity during the day and a little more rest at night.

Here’s what you can try to help your guinea pig feel more at east during daylight hours:

1. Establishing a Bond Early On

Building a bond with your guinea pig is a great way to make them feel more comfortable and at ease. Bonding can take time and patience on your part, but can also be very rewarding.

Most of us associate bonding time with our furry friends to take place outside of their cage, but this can also be done while they are in the confines of their cage too. Even just your presence near the cage over time can put your guinea pig at ease.

Make sure you start interacting with them at an early age when they are most impressionable for forming lifetime habits.

And when bonding, make sure it’s as fun for the guinea as it is for you. Tapping on their cage or anything else that might spook them is more fun for kids than it is for their pet!

Simply being a calming presence, or even petting your pet if they are comfortable with that, are good ways to bond without your guinea sensing a threat.

2. Regular Exercise

Taking your guinea pig out of their cage for regular exercise in your home can be a great tool for getting them to feel comfortable in their surroundings. It can help them get used to unfamiliar sounds, smells, and objects in the home which in turn can help them feel much safer when they are in the confines of their cage.

It can take a while for a guinea pig to feel comfortable out and about in the house, but with time they will learn that the big scary world outside of their cage is not scary at all. It’s actually quite fun!

One of the great things about taking your guinea pig out of their cage for playtime is that it is likely to tire them out. This in turn could encourage them to sleep more at night. At the very least, it’s still a nice way to help them stretch their legs!

3. Peace and Quiet

Although interaction with your guinea pig is a good idea, housing their cage in a quiet and somewhat peaceful area of the house is preferable. You don’t want to isolate them completely, however, you also don’t want them living in the middle of a madhouse either!

Choose a room in the house that allows your guinea pig to feel relaxed and not have to deal with constant interaction.

Keeping them away from other pets in the household such as cats and dogs is also a good idea. This is likely to encourage your furry friend to feel safe enough to venture out of hiding during daylight without feeling like there are any threats present.

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