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Can Guinea Pigs See in the Dark? Do They Need Light at Night?

So, you thought to yourself, “Can guinea pigs see in the dark?”. The answer might surprise you:

Interestingly, guinea pigs, being most active during the day (referred to by the fancy word diurnal), have — at night — somewhat limited vision. Instead, they make up for their poor eyesight by using their whiskers to smell and sense their surroundings.

You can bet there is more to this…

Key Takeaways:

  • It’s true. Your guinea can see in the dark. But their ability to do so is somewhat limited.
  • Guineas have this phenomenal skill that allows them to survive: their 4 senses —hearing, smelling, sensing, and a magnificent memory.
  • They have poor depth perception, but their senses help to correct this.

How Well Can Guinea Pigs See?

Guinea pigs aren’t known for having excellent vision. Still, their limited vision is capable of helping them move around when there’s some light.

One key feature of the guinea pigs is their 340-degree field of vision [1]. In the wild, this wide range of vision is essential. It could mean life and death for them. Their vision allows them to detect approaching bad guys from every corner, which will help them escape quickly.

guinea pig wild, can guinea pigs see in the dark

What’s more, guinea pigs can see in color. They are said to have a dichromatic color perception, meaning they can only see 2 colors.

In the natural habitat, predators are often camouflaged. Hence, it can be difficult for some predators to see the guineas — but for guineas, it’s another story:

Even though they have a worse color perception than humans, guineas can differentiate color, which gives them an advantage over their predators.

During the day, guineas can see everything. Actually, they can often see enough to find their way around, even when there’s little light at sunrise or sunset.

But, at night, their vision is terrible. Instead, their vision is replaced by the other senses that they have — e.g., smelling and hearing.

Don’t forget to check our guide on cool facts about guinea pigs.

Do Guinea Pigs Like the Dark?

Guinea pigs do like the dark. These pets are crepuscular animals. It is a fancy word for saying they are most active at twilight.

These little piggies will usually be most active at sunrise or sunset.

Being at the bottom of the food chain, guineas are prey to many other animals, so they are careful when they move.

Surprisingly, in darker environments, guinea pigs are pretty confident in coming out and enjoying themselves.

So, if you notice your guinea pig moving around and playing in the dark, don’t worry. They are having fun!

Do Guinea Pigs Need Light at Night?

Guinea pigs don’t need light at night. They are pretty comfortable at night without it and can move around safely.

Being prey animals, guineas are used to total darkness and have been this way for hundreds of years. 

guinea pigs at night but can guinea pigs see in the dark

Remarkably, in the wild, they were accustomed to the night and needed no lights. So there you have it: they don’t mind the night.

Now, to make your guinea comfortable, you’ll want to replicate mother nature as much as possible.

This means keeping the lights on all night could — just as with humans — disrupt their normal rhythms and sleeping patterns. So the lights are off!

How Do Guinea Pigs Navigate Their Way Around?

Guinea pigs rely on 4 senses [2] to get by their hearing, smelling, memory, and whiskers, and their excellent memory. These are like superpowers to them and allow them to stay safe.

guinea pig in wild but can guinea pigs see in the dark

Their hearing is exceptional, and they can hear everything clearly around them. This incredible asset helps them avoid danger and prevent becoming prey.

To smell at night, the guinea pigs use their nose.

Their sense of smell is more significant than those of humans. In fact, a guinea’s nose can detect the scent of other animals in the distance to avoid them.

Quite magnificent. But that’s not all they have…

They also have their personal GPS-like system — an enormous spatial memory. With their super sharp memory, they can remember almost everything.

With the many nooks and crannies like tunnels and odd objects, a guinea pig’s burrow can often become very complex and helps them navigate.

Even with a poor perception of depth, guinea pigs can remember challenging routes to find their way around.

Surprisingly — using their burrows —they will memorize their surroundings when they move around at night above ground.

Their other secret feature, their whiskers, is the last tool that helps them navigate at night.

Interestingly, these whiskers (also called vibrissae) have several roles in supporting the guineas at night.

One of these features is measuring distance. The whiskers are excellent at helping them feel around for any objects they might hit and get back home.

FAQs

What do guinea pigs do at night?

guinea pigs at night but can guinea pigs see in the dark

Mostly guinea pigs sleeping, given that guineas need darkness to sleep better.
But they have a shorter sleep-wake pattern, so they might sneak around a bit, wake up for an occasional snack or get rid of any excess energy. 

Is it OK to cover my guinea pig cage at night?

Indeed, it’s always a good idea.
Your little buddy needs a dark environment to sleep and fully rest, so the darker their cage is, the better for them. And they will have a healthier sleep pattern. 

How far can guinea pigs see?

Around 3-5 feet. That is if they are healthy! But this, of course, also depends on factors — type and age, for example. Still, they can’t make sense of finer details at greater distances.

Conclusion

Guineas don’t have a highly developed sense of sight — mind you, it’s even worse at night. 

Their terrible sight is the reason why these creatures are crepuscular. If they need to move around at night, they depend on their other senses to help guide them.

As for you, now that you know the magic answer to the million-dollar question, “can guinea pigs see in the dark?” you are all set!

So be a responsible pet owner and take proper care of your little buddy.

But that’s not all — don’t forget to leave us your fascinating, delightful, and resourceful comments. Until next time…

can guinea pigs see in the dark

So, does your guinea pig move in the night without light? Let us know in the comments section!

Resources

  • 1. Veterinarians.com | Find Local Veterinarians Near You [Internet]. veterinarians.com. [cited 2022 Nov 27]. Available from: https://veterinarians.com/article/all-about-guinea-pigs
  • 2. Turner J. Guinea Pig’s Vision – Find Out if Guinea Pigs See Colors or at Night [Internet]. animalwised.com. 2022 [cited 2022 Nov 27]. Available from: https://www.animalwised.com/guinea-pig-s-vision-how-guinea-pigs-see-4306.html
Ben Roberts
Ben Roberts

My name is Ben Roberts, and I absolutely love animals. So, naturally, I love writing about them too! As far as my animals, I have a Pit-bull, a Beagle-lab mix, a Chihuahua, and one old cat. Each one of them provides me with a new adventure every day. And the best part is they’re all best friends. Well, except the cat when he gets a little annoyed.
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