Have you ever wondered if guinea pigs sleep with their eyes open? It’s a good question and one that’s asked by many guinea pig lovers all over the world every day. Guinea pigs are interesting creatures with interesting behavior, so today, we’re going to take a closer look at whether they sleep with their eyes open or closed.
Further, once we discover whether they sleep with their eyes closed or open, we’ll also take a closer look at why they do so.
Do guinea pigs sleep with their eyes open or closed?
Guinea pigs sleep in short intervals of 3 to 10 minutes at a time. In total, they only sleep around 4 hours a day. When they sleep, they generally keep their eyes open, but not always. When they feel completely safe or are exhausted they occasionally sleep with their eyes closed.
Because guinea pigs frequently sleep with their eyes open it’s sometimes hard to tell whether your guinea pig is asleep or awake. The easiest way to tell whether your guinea pig is sleeping or not is by taking a closer look at their body. If they’re still and peaceful it generally means that they’re taking a quick nap.
Why do guinea pigs keep their eyes open when sleeping?
Many animals, including humans, sleep with their eyes closed. It helps the brain relax and protects the eyes. So, why do guinea pigs sleep with their eyes open? To answer this question, we need to delve deeper into the history of the guinea pig.
Guinea pigs are rodents that are native to the Andes mountains. Before they became our pets, they used to live there in herds of 10 or more, feeding on the grassy plains and forest edges. Because guinea pigs are strict herbivores, and relatively small, they were at the bottom of the food chain. They were prey animals for many predators such as snakes, birds, coyotes, and wild felines.
The fact that guinea pigs had many different predators to fear meant that they always had to be alert, even when they were asleep. If they were not, they could easily be surprised by a predator while they were asleep. Because of this, guinea pigs evolved to sleep with their eyes open. Sleeping with their eyes open allowed them to process crucial information even when they were asleep. In other words, it allowed them to stay vigilant, even when sleeping, something that could mean the difference between life and death.
Of course, now that guinea pigs no longer live in the wild they do not have to fear predators anymore. Humans are apex predators and are capable of keeping their guinea pigs perfectly safe. Yet guinea pigs still sleep with their eyes open. You might wonder why that is. The answer is fairly straightforward. Evolution takes thousands or even millions of years to occur. Just because guinea pigs do not have any predators when kept in captivity does not mean that they will suddenly evolve to sleep with their eyes closed.
Is it bad if my guinea pig sleeps with its eyes open?
Nope, it’s perfectly normal for your guinea pig to sleep with its eyes open, all guinea pig breeds do it. If you’re a first-time guinea pig owner, it might look a little alarming but it’s nothing to worry about. As I’ve explained, millions of years of evolutionary pressure have caused your guinea pig to sleep like that.
Try to look at it from their perspective: they’re very small animals that have been on the bottom of the food chain for their entire history. Everywhere they went there were predators lurking, ready to eat them. It was so bad, that they could not even sleep at night without keeping their eyes open. After that, they were kept by humans as livestock, also to be eaten. It’s only very recently that we’ve started keeping them as companion animals. If you take all of these things into account it’s very understandable why they’re always alert and sleep with their eyes open, for most of their history, it meant the difference between life and death!
When do guinea pigs sleep with their eyes closed?
So, now you know that guinea pigs generally sleep with their eyes open and understand why they do so. However, it’s not unheard of for guinea pigs to sleep with their eyes closed either. It doesn’t happen too frequently, but on occasion, you might see that your cavy is sleeping with its eyes closed. Don’t be alarmed, even though your piggy will usually sleep with its eyes open you don’t have to worry if they sleep with their eyes closed either. When your guinea pig feels completely safe and relaxed, it might sometimes sleep with its eyes closed.
If you notice that your guinea pig is sleeping with its eyes closed it means that it trusts you completely and that it feels that it is in a safe, comforting environment where it will not be threatened. You can take this as a pretty big compliment because it means that even though guinea pigs naturally have a lot to fear from their environment it still feels safe enough in your presence that it’s willing to close its eyes.
Do not feel bad if your guinea pig does not sleep with its eyes closed. I know that I’ve said that them sleeping with their eyes closed means that they feel very safe and comfortable, but some guinea pigs will never sleep with their eyes closed, no matter how safe they feel.
What environment do guinea pigs prefer to sleep in?
Generally speaking, guinea pigs prefer to sleep in a dark, quiet environment. They prefer sleeping in the dark because it makes them feel safe and protected because they’re less visible to predators. This allows them to relax more and gives them a better sleep.
To sum it all up: guinea pigs generally sleep with their eyes open, but can also sleep with their eyes closed if they feel very relaxed, comfortable, and safe. All guinea pig breeds do this, ranging from Texels to Peruvians.
The reason why they generally keep their eyes open while sleeping is because they’re small animals that have spent their entire history at the bottom of the food chain. Keeping their eyes open while sleeping allowed them to stay alert and could mean the difference between life and death, which is why they have evolved to sleep with their eyes open.
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