Guinea pigs are diurnal animals, which means they are active during the day and sleep at night. However, those sleeping periods are very brief (lasting between 20 seconds to three minutes). This explains why you may hear your guinea pig moving around all night.
Is your guinea pig constantly meep-meep-meeping? Do you hear them chewing and scuttering all day and all night? Are you wondering if these little critters ever sleep? It may seem like they don’t.
They do sleep—just not often (or hardly at all) compared to their human friends.
Guinea pigs are extremely active creatures. In fact, according to Sharon L. Vanderlip, Doctor of Veterinary Medicine, they are active for around 20 hours in a 24-hour period.
They are almost always chewing. They play, hide, and scutter about. Activity keeps them mentally stimulated, and chewing plays a part in their nutritional needs because of their constantly growing teeth. (If they didn’t constantly chew, their overgrown teeth would lead to malnourishment or starvation.)
With all this activity, sleep is inevitable. Guinea pigs need some rest and sleep to live their very active lifestyles.
When Do Guinea Pigs Sleep?
Guinea pigs sleep in short periods, mostly at night. They are diurnal animals, which means they are active during the day and sleep at night, unlike their nocturnal hamster friends, meaning they are asleep during the day and active at night.
But Why Do I Hear Them All Night?
This is a great question. Guinea pigs do sleep at night, but they sleep very little. Sharon L. Vanderlip, Doctor of Veterinary Medicine, mentions in her book, The Guinea Pig Handbook, that guinea pigs are “seldom still for more than ten minutes (usually less than 6 minutes) at a time.”
Dr. Sharon L. Vanderlip goes on to say that sleep periods typically range from 20 seconds to 3 minutes at a time!
Wow. No wonder you hear them all night. Can you imagine sleeping for only 20 seconds?!
How to Sleep Through Guinea Pig Commotion
Guinea pig cage placement is important. A bedroom may seem like the perfect spot since it is quiet and far from the hustle and bustle of daily living. After all, guinea pigs would not appreciate dogs barking, doors banging, and dishes clanging. So, if a bedroom is a good spot, how can you both be comfortable at night?
Tip #1 – Cover The Cage
Cover your guinea pig’s cage with a blanket. Covering the cage will create a sound barrier, containing any squeaking, scratching, or chewing noises inside the cage. Your guinea pig will appreciate the added privacy, too!
Tip #2 – The Type of Cage Matters
Do you have a plastic or wooden cage? Is there wire mesh on the floor of the cage? Plastic or wooden cages can be noisy if your guinea pig uses the cage as a chewing post. They can also be hazardous to your pet’s health.
Tip #3 – Remove Noisy Toys at Night
Does your guinea pig have an exercise wheel that jolts you awake the instant he hops on it? Does he push around a wooden block with a bell on it? Take those out. Replace them with soft or silent toys that are safe for guinea pigs.
This way, you get the silence you need, and your guinea pig can still have a little fun while the lights are out.
Tip #4 – Move The Cage
If you live in a quiet home, move the cage into another room. A living room can be the perfect spot for your little pig. They like to see what’s going on so they can feel more secure (instead of wondering who’s lurking around the corner.)
Keeping Your Guinea Pig Safe at Night
Choose The Right Cage
Cages and bedding are important for the health and safety of your little pet. Cages should be metal so they can’t chew through them. Another option is smooth, hard plastic like a children’s pool. Make sure the surface is smooth so the guinea pig cannot chew on it.
Choose The Right Bedding
You may have noticed that a guinea pig’s feet are tiny. They are also sensitive and can easily be injured on mesh wire beds or similar platforms. Ensure the bottom of the cage is lined with plenty of bedding so that your little pig’s feet will land on a soft surface.
Paper bedding is a top choice for guinea pigs. It is soft on their feet and nontoxic to their lungs. Paper is also absorbent, which will prevent urine from puddling and creating further issues.
Wood shavings are hazardous to your guinea pig. While they smell nice, they can be sharp, causing injuries to the eyes and feet.
Fine dust from wood shavings can lead to allergies. Wood shavings can also cause medical conditions such as itchy skin, respiratory issues, and even liver problems.
Pro tip: Whatever kind of material you use, be mindful of your guinea pig’s little lungs. Fine dust particles can cause irritation in the lungs and lead to more serious illnesses.
Moving The Guinea Pig Cage
Moving your pet’s cage may seem like the perfect solution to your sleepless nights, but be aware when doing so.
Guinea pigs are not as curious as you may think. They prefer familiar environments. After all, familiarity means safety and security. Your guinea pig may seem timid or cautious when the cage is moved. It may take a few weeks to get used to the new setting.
Try not to move the cage too often to avoid upsetting your little pig!
Guinea Pigs Sleep – Barley
Guinea pigs are active little creatures. They are alert for the greater part of the day, only sleeping what seems like a minuscule amount: around 3 minutes at a time.
If this is causing sleepless nights for you, take advantage of the tips mentioned and change your guinea pig’s nightly routine in small ways. Ensure your guinea pig is in the proper environment, i.e., he should have a suitable cage and safe bedding. Be aware if you move his cage—he doesn’t like change and may need some time to adjust.