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Can guinea pigs see in the dark? Do they need light at night?

As you might have learned by now that your guinea pigs are equally active during the night as they are during the day. So, do they need a night light or can guinea pigs see in the dark? There were a lot of questions boggling my find so as a curious guinea pig owner I did some research and here is what I found out:

Guinea pigs cannot see in the dark; however, they can still navigate around their enclosure with no problem at all. It is possible because they have a sharp memory and they can remember tunnels, pathways, etc. pretty well. Most researchers also point out that their strong smell and hearing ability aids them in navigating through the night. 

Do guinea pigs need a light at night? No, they don’t need a night light. Having an intense light on during the night might confuse their body clock that it’s still day time which can be bad for their health. However, many people leave a small light on in their room, but certainly, it is not required. You may choose to do as you feel right.

Guinea pigs are Crepuscular animals. Which means they remain active throughout day and night. They sleep in small laps and can even sleep with their eyes open. Thus, many people think that they will need a light at night, which is actually not true.

If you want to learn more about guinea pig sleep cycle and some interesting facts about the same I would suggest you go ahead and read our article on the same:

Guinea pig sleep: Fascinating facts to learn about them!

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Do guinea pigs prefer the dark or light?

Guinea pigs prefer to remain in the dark during night time. See, you need to understand that guinea pigs are prey animals and they are continually trying to look out for predators and hide from them.

So, having a pitch dark environment can help them calm down their stress and relax for some time as they feel a little more secure in the dark.

Guinea pigs have a reasonably broad view but poor depth perception. That’s one of the reasons for poor eyesight in them.

If you have ever tried lifting them without having a solid surface below their feet, you might have noticed they will get stressed out of fear. That’s because of the lack of depth perception in them.

They cannot judge the distance and height as accurately as we can. However, they have an excellent memory which helps them to overcome this obstacle.

In the wild guinea pigs run around tunnels and grasses to reach their hiding places and food. Even if the predator is chasing them, they can move around pretty fast as they can remember routes and locations very well.

The same trick helps them in navigating through their cage, even in darkness. Also, they have a good hearing and smell ability to aid in moving around the space.

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Do guinea pigs like to sleep in the dark?

Yes, guinea pigs definitely like to sleep in the dark. Guinea pigs are crepuscular animals, and they sleep in small laps of 3-10 minutes usually.

However, if you can provide them a dark and quiet environment, they feel much more secure and can take a longer nap compared to what they take during the day.

But does that mean they don’t sleep during the day? No, they definitely sleep during the day time as well.

They do sleep in smaller laps during the day. Also, If your guinea pig is used to the environment and feels secure enough, they might even doze off for a while during day time.

guinea pig sleep

If you have ever noticed your guinea pig well, you will find they will move towards the darker area of the cage or snuggle inside beddings or hideout before they go for a nap. This is their natural behavior as they feel more secure this way.

For more info you can read our following articles:

Other senses they rely upon:

Hearing:

Guinea pigs have an excellent sense of hearing. They can hear higher frequency as compared to humans. It’s a unique ability which not only helps them in finding direction but also keeps them well aware of the environment and threats nearby.

How important is a sense of smell to guinea pigs

However, if you have some loud noises in your house where you house your guinea pigs, then they might get stressed out due to the same. I would recommend you reading this in detail How Well Do Guinea Pigs Hear?

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Smell:

Guinea pig also has a highly developed sense of smell. The sense of smell is a vital part of the guinea pig as it helps them recognize and communicate with other guinea pigs and humans as well.

It is said that they can smell and find their food as well. Having such a great sense of smell is an excellent aid to the vision of guinea pigs as they cannot see everything with such depths.

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Related questions:

How Far Can Guinea Pigs See?

Guinea pigs are shortsighted and can only see up to 3-5 feet. Anything further will remain blurred, and thus they have to depend upon their other senses to cover up the obstacle. But how did we concluded this?

See if you have ever tried walking near your guinea pig from a distance, you will notice they will spook out when they see you approaching even if they are familiar to you.

Why? Because guinea pig has a blurred vision after 3 feet and thus it’s tough for them to see things until they come near.

Do guinea pigs see straight or sideways?

The guinea pigs have a 340-degree vision. That means they can literally see everything around them.

Even if they have their back facing towards you, still they can clearly see what you are doing. Guinea pigs have a long slender body and have their eyes sideways, which gives them an all-round view.

Although they cannot look right below their nose area, which means when they are served with the food, they cannot see it. Thus, they pretty much depend upon the taste and smell to identify and consume the food.

Can guinea pigs see color?

Yes, guinea pigs can definitely see colors. In fact, studies show that they have a dichromatic color vision.

That means they can see color but not as well as humans can. Studies show that they are more sensitive towards one color than others.

Like most guinea pigs have a green color sensitivity which means they can identify green better than others. However, there is no concrete proof regarding what they can see and what they can’t.

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Conclusion

To sum things up, I would say guinea pigs have decent eyesight. Although their sight is not the best out there; however, their hearing and smelling ability do compliment things pretty well.

Guinea pigs have an all-round view of 340 degrees which means they can see if some predators approach them from above, sideways, or even from the back.

Although they do lack depth in the vision; thus, they cannot see anything beyond 3-5 feet clearly. They also have a sharp memory which helps them remember their environment pretty well, which in turn helps them in navigating even in pitch-black darkness.

They prefer to take a nap in the dark and thus don’t require any night light at all. Also, they remain active throughout day and night their body has got accustomed to the environment, which helps them in navigating in the dark.

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Source: NCBI