can guinea pigs see in the dark – Do They Need Light At Night?

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Published By: Martyn

Can Guinea Pigs See In the dark?

Ever asked yourself “Can Guinea Pigs See In The Dark?”

This is something I’ve asked myself a few times, whilst being wide awake at night and listening to them running around playing.

I didn’t know if I should leave a light on for them or not at night time.

As a Guinea Pig owner, I needed to find out. (Plus it was hard for me to sleep with the lamp on!)

So I’ve done a lot of research on this. If, like me, you’ve wondered whether or not your guinea pig can see in the dark, you’ll soon find out.

Guinea pigs have poor night vision, yet they may still travel throughout their habitat without issue.

They can remember pathways, routes, and other details with great accuracy because they have a keen memory.

Many experts also state that their exceptional sense of smell and excellent hearing aids them in nighttime navigation.

Do Guinea Pigs Need Light At Night?

Guinea Pigs and night lights

No, Guinea pigs do not need light at night. Having a light could mess with their body clock and sleeping patterns.

It can be unhealthy for them to think its daytime when its night. It can confuse their eating habits and their sleeping habits.

We know that we do, and that humans need light at night time to show us where we’re going. But for some animals, having a light on could cause more harm than good.

This is why you don’t need to worry about leaving your Guinea Pigs in the dark without a light on at night time. Some people may have a little lamp in the room, however it’s not needed.

The Activity Of Guinea Pigs During The Night

Guinea pigs are also very active during the night.

They are Crepuscular animal. (I know what you thinking…”a what?”)

This means that they can be active during the day and night. Usually sleeping in small bursts.

Funny enough, they do often sleep with their eyes open. Making it even harder to know if they can see in the dark…

Since they are active at night, it does make you wonder if you should give them a bit of light. Even though it’s not been proven if they can see, one would think guinea pigs can see in the dark since they are happily playing no matter how dark it is.

Is A Guinea Pig’s Vision Equally Good At Night And Day?

Whether its day or night, Guinea Pigs dont have very good vision.

They have a difficult time seeing objects that are too far away or that are close up. This is why they do their best to avoid predators at all times, by sensing potential danger with their hearing and sense of smell.

An interesting fact about their eyesight is that they have a field of vision of about 340 degrees. This means they can see from all angles. A really useful skill to have when avoiding prey.

Even though they do have poor eyesight, Guinea Pigs are able to see in color.

How Do Guinea Pigs Navigate At Night?

How Do Guinea Pigs Navigate At Night?

Guinea pigs have trouble with objects that are too far away or too close up; consequently, they do best avoiding predators by sensing potential danger through hearing and smell.

This is not their only trick…

Guinea Pigs have little whiskers on their face. They make them look very cute but they also have a very important benefit.

Like cats, Guinea Pigs use these to help them navigate and to help them sense any obstructions in their path.

They can also use these whiskers as a way of measuring an opening too small for them. For example, they will be able to tell if they can fit through a space by measuring it with their whiskers. 

Can Guinea Pigs Remember Where Things Are In The Dark?

Yes, guinea pigs can remember where things are in the dark.

This is due to their well-developed spatial memory.

Their spatial memory allows them to recall where objects are located even if they can’t see them.

This would be very beneficial for guinea pigs who live outside or in dark spaces, but it turns out that guinea pigs have the same level of spatial memory despite their access to light.

Do Guinea Pigs Prefer The Light or The Dark?

No they don’t generally prefer one or the other. Although during the night they’ll need to make sure of their other senses.

You might be thinking that your guinea pig would like a little night light, but you could be wrong.

Guinea Pigs like it to be dark at night time. Some even feel more secure and safe, since they can hide from predators a lot easier.

Making sure they have that dark space, allows them to get rid of the stress and relax. Which is good for their overall health.

Guinea Pigs’ Other Senses

Guinea Pig Senses

When it comes to being in the dark, Guinea Pigs need to use other senses more to “see in the dark”.

Guinea Pigs’ Sense Of Smell

Can you imagine losing your sense of smell. Not being able to smell fresh bread or a nice bottle of wine. We could still see though, so at least we could still get around.

Now imagine closing your eyes and just smelling your way around. Not a chance, right?

Luckily for them, Guinea pigs have a very good sense of smell. This helps them to get around even in the dark.

Smelling where their food is, where they’ve been before. Even smelling potential dangers, so they know which way to avoid.

Guinea Pig Sense Of Hearing

Guinea pigs are able to hear high-pitched noises and they can move their ears independently of each other.

This allows them to pinpoint the location of a noise. If you talk to your guinea pig in a high-pitched voice, it will be more likely that they will respond than if you use normal speech.

Guinea pigs can hear your voice better when it is higher pitched because of the nature of their hearing capabilities.

They can use their hearing to “see” in the dark, as it helps to keep them alert on their surroundings.

Guinea Pigs’ Vision

Guinea Pigs have unique eyes as they can look around without their eyes actually moving.

They have the ability to see nearly everything that is going on all around them, with approximately 340 degrees of vision.

This is really useful to them, as they are often the prey to many animals. Even though their vision might not be great, it does give them more area to keep an eye on.

If you’ve ever seen your guinea pig sleep with their eyes open, this is why.


Whiskers, also known as vibrissae, are special hairs that protrude from the face of a guinea pig.

They are used to help the guinea pig navigate and to help them sense any obstructions in their path.

Guinea pigs can also use these whiskers as a way of measuring an opening too small for them.

Why Guinea Pigs Can Navigate In The Dark?

Its this very reason why people wonder and ask “can guinea pigs see in the dark?”.

When you watch them at night, their eyes are open and they seem as though they are finding their way around their home.

They seem to know where their food is, where their friends are and also how to avoid objects that are in their way.

It’s simply because all of their other sense are so much more developed. They use their smell, hearing and whiskers to move around.

We only ever use our eyes…

Thats why if you close your eyes, you wont be able to get very far without hitting something.

When Do Guinea Pigs Sleep?

You’ll find that your guinea pig will sleep during the day and night. Unlike some animals that will sleep for hours, they will only sleep for small intervals of 5-10 minutes.

They will usually sleep when they feel the most relaxed and safest.

Do Guinea Pigs Like Sleeping In The Dark?

Guinea Pig Sleeping

As already mentioned, they do like sleeping in the day and night. They do however like to sleep in a dark environment. Which is why even during the day they’ll try and find a dark part of the cage.

Guinea Pigs are whats known as crepuscular animals (which ill go into detail on in just a moment)

This means they don’t usually sleep in one large session but sleep in small sessions of 5-10 minutes.

Having said that, if they have somewhere dark and quiet where they feel safe then they could sleep for a lot longer.

Are Guinea Pigs Nocturnal?

It’s hard to say whether or not if Guinea Pigs are nocturnal.

They are a unique animal as they can be active both during the day and night. As mentioned this is because of the quick bursts of sleep they get.

Unlike my cat Jasper who comes to bed when we do, Guinea Pigs will fall a sleep where they are whether the sun is out or not.

Nocturnal are those that are awake at night and Diurnal are those that are active during the day. Guinea Pigs are neither of these.

A Guinea pig is crepuscular.

If they are awake more at night or in the day, it doesn’t mean there is anything to worry about.

They simply have naps throughout the day and night. Its just more often than not they sleep more in the evening because the environment is quieter.

Do Guinea Pigs Have A Sleep Pattern?

No, guinea pigs don’t have a sleep pattern.

Us humans love a good routine, making sure we get a certain amount of sleep each night. And often going to bed at the same time each night.

They’ll usually just go to sleep when they need to. No matter what time of the day it is.

This can make it hard to spot when they might not be feeling very well.

You need to keep an eye out on other signs such as standing differently when sleeping and less day time interaction.

Crepuscular Advantages For Guinea Pigs

Remember the Guinea Pig is prey for a lot of animals, so being a crepuscular animal is very useful.

They evolved into being crepuscular animals when they were more wild and less domesticated like they are now.

With so many predators to worry about, being able to sleep in small bursts throughout the day and night meant they could wonder the wild without coming into contact with danger.

It also meant that they could be more active when it was cooler during the day and also quieter at night.

Your house is naturally a safe environment for it but this is how Guinea Pigs have developed and it comes naturally to them. So no matter how safe they are, they will still sleep in these bursts.

So you’ll hear them playing and having fun during the day and night.

Do Guinea Pigs See Colors?

Whilst we talking about whether they can see in the dark, can Guinea Pigs see colors?

Yes they can, although potentially not as many colors as humans.

It’s said that even though they can see color, they cannot see different shades of the same color.

Final Thoughts

The guinea pig is a very adorable and smart animal that can be an ideal pet for someone in the right living situation.

They may not see in the dark like cats or owls, but they do have heightened senses which make up for their lack of sight when it comes to hunting food at night.

Guinea pigs are also highly intelligent animals with personalities similar to dogs and humans making them perfect companions!

So back to our question “Can Guinea Pigs See In The Dark?”

Yes Guinea Pigs can see in the dark but perhaps with limited vision. instead they navigate their home through smell, hearing and using their whiskers.


I started my journey into the wonderful world of Guinea Pigs, when my 5 year old son wanted a pet. We spent many weeks and months deciding what type of pet to get him. This is when we fell down the rabbit hole of Guinea Pigs...

I had so many questions when we first started looking into them. Hours and hours of research has given me the answers. So I wanted to share what I've learned with you, to help you learn more about these amazing animals.

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