Are guinea pigs afraid of the dark?
For many people it is very scary when they have to go outside in the dark.
If you’ve always wondered if your guinea pigs (can) be scared in the dark too, and if the animals can see anything at all in the dark, we’ve got the answers for you right here!
In addition, we reveal 3 tips on how you can make the nights as comfortable as possible for your guinea pigs.
Are guinea pigs afraid of the dark?
Without beating around the bush, let’s get straight to the answer to this question:
No, guinea pigs are not afraid of the dark, on the contrary! Darkness has a very calming effect on the animals.
This knowledge can be of great use to you if you have to take your guinea pig to the vet, for example, and it is under a lot of stress: Throw a towel over the transport box for the way to the vet and the time in the waiting room – the darkness will quickly lower the stress level of your beloved animal.
Why do guinea pigs feel so safe in the dark?
To answer this question, we need to look a little deeper into the genetic makeup of guinea pigs. As you probably know, there are both predators and prey in the animal kingdom, or in other words, hunters and hunted.
Your furry friends belong to the second category, i.e. prey animals, which are on the menu of many hunters in nature.
Of course, there is no real danger for them in their enclosure – if it is properly secured – but their instinct makes them always stay a bit alert. After all, you never know… 😉
So a basic need of guinea pigs is to hide – and where better for Meeri to hide than in the dark?
So it’s more than understandable that darkness has a calming effect on your animals and they don’t feel afraid in the dark, but safe and secure.
This is exactly why it is so important that your guinea pigs have enough hiding places in their enclosure. If you deny them the opportunity to hide, your guinea pigs will never really be able to relax.
The darker the hiding place, the better and deeper the sleep of the animals.
Sleeping outdoors is extremely difficult for the animals due to their flight instinct, which is why it can lead to permanent stress. This permanent stress can lead to illness or, in the worst case, even death from exhaustion. So, if in doubt, it’s better to include a few too many hiding places in the enclosure rather than too few.
Can guinea pigs see in the dark?
Some people believe that guinea pigs can’t see anything at night, others that they can see outlines and others are convinced that guinea pigs can see very well in the dark.
However, this question has not been scientifically clarified.
Since we can not answer this question with absolute certainty, we have created an overview of the different theses with the corresponding arguments. The best thing to do is to read this overview carefully, observe your guinea pigs a little more closely and then make your own decision.
- guinea pigs see nothing in the dark
Proponents of this theory justify their thesis with the fact that guinea pigs do not need night vision at all. They make a kind of inner map in their head and memorize all the paths they take in the enclosure. In this way, they find their way around perfectly well even in the dark – without being able (or needing) to see the obstacles.
In nature, too, the animals have their fixed routes, which they learn by heart and can therefore easily cover even in the dark.
Since guinea pigs belong to the diurnal animals anyway, which become active at night only in exceptional cases, good night vision is not relevant for the animals – if mullets get hungry at night, the animals simply always follow their nose until they have found the food, if need be 😉.
- guinea pigs see outlines in the dark.
So a little night vision would not be bad, right? Proponents of this theory also think so and therefore concede the guinea pigs at least the possibility of being able to recognize outlines.
In view of the evolution it makes little sense to grant the guinea pigs no sight possibility in the darkness.
As already mentioned, the mullets belong to the prey animals – in the darkness the animals would be easy prey, if they could not even perceive their attackers in the form of a quick movement!
- guinea pigs see well in the dark
Are guinea pigs the cats among rodents?
If you believe the supporters of this theory, then definitely yes. Due to their natural disposition, guinea pigs need to be able to spot their potential enemies early in the dark. Only in this way can they warn the rest of the pack in time and take flight.
And at this point we also come to the main argument that guinea pigs (must) have good night vision: How would guinea pigs be able to escape at night if they can’t see anything in the dark? On the one hand, they would constantly collide with obstacles during their escape – because these escape routes cannot be found on the inner map – and on the other hand, they would have no chance at all to find a hiding place and would therefore be defenseless.
So you see that this is a very complex issue, where the supporters of each theory have good arguments to show. Only science can answer this question, but with a little observation of the behavior of your animals at night, you may be able to verify one of the theories for yourself.
Can guinea pigs actually see colors?
Besides the question whether guinea pigs can see something in the dark, you might also be interested in the question regarding color vision in guinea pigs.
Here we can say: Your guinea pigs live in a nearly as colorful world as you do! Guinea pigs are able to see colors.
Studies have also shown that guinea pigs have a particularly high affinity for the color green. This can be explained by the fact that many of the main food ingredients in the guinea pig’s diet are, or at least include, the color green.
Therefore, it is not surprising that when you put fresh food in the enclosure, your hogs will go for the cucumber and herbs first. In addition, this could also be the reason why many animals prefer the carrot greens to the carrots themselves.
This is how you make your guinea pigs’ nights easier!
Since you can’t know for sure if and how much your guinea pigs can see in the dark, there are a few things you can do as a precaution to make their nights as comfortable as possible.
- move as little as possible in the enclosure
If guinea pigs really do not have any night vision, constant changes (not made by them) can become a problem.
If the house, water bowl and nail material are always in different places, your guinea pig will not be able to find its way around at night. Even if they can only see outlines, it can frighten the animals if new outlines appear in all possible places as if from nowhere (due to the rearrangement).
So you are doing your animals a big favor if the setup always has the same arrangement on the whole. In any case, it can not harm the animals, even if they should see in the dark super well! 😉
- avoid unnecessary light sources at night.
To keep stress levels as low as possible, your guinea pigs need their rest at night. If the enclosure is then located near a motion detector that constantly goes on and off when the neighbor’s cat walks across the patio, then your animals may not be able to rest.
For this reason, you should place the enclosure – or at least the shelters – so that no direct light can shine in at night.
- place the enclosure in a quiet place
Your mullets want to sleep at night.
If you are one of those people who like to party loudly until late at night, this is a real torture for your guinea pigs!
Therefore, place the enclosure in a place where your animals are protected from noise. Constant noises and a lot of hustle and bustle stress the rather anxious animals very much and also affect their health in the long run.
My name is Mark and the senior editor
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