Guinea pigs are cute animals. So, you may have one or two of them as pets. Perhaps, you have a guinea pig that prefers the dark. Now, you just got a new one, and you are kind of confused as he seems terrified of the dark… That might make you wonder: Do guinea pigs afraid of the dark, or do they prefer it?
Well, there’s no one size fits all answer for this question.
Usually, guinea pigs are not afraid of the dark. These members of the Caviidae family are prey animals. They love to hide in the dusky areas for safety away from predators. However, they are shortsighted and depend a lot on their sense of smell and hearing. So, if there is any sudden movement or sound in the dark or at night, it can make our guinea pig very afraid.
This article highlights everything you need to know about how your cavies react in the dark and how we as their owners can help them.
So, let’s begin.
Are Guinea Pigs Afraid Of The Dark?
You may think guinea pigs are not afraid of the dark because they love to hide in dusty places. But think about it. Cavies have a delicate nature: They are at the bottom of the food chain, and they have poor depth perception. Lastly, they depend a lot on their sense of smell and sound. That makes them hardly capable of defending themselves even though they are susceptible to danger. So sometimes, at night, guinea pigs are afraid of the dark, especially when they sense danger.
Besides, because of their poor eyesight, they depend on their memory to navigate around their environment. So, your pet may not feel safe if she is new to her environment. Look at it this way: At night, everywhere is dark, right? As bad as a cavy’s eyesight is, it gets worse at night. Don’t you think it would be a lot scarier for a cavy that is new to the environment? The poor little thing won’t be able to properly navigate to her hiding spot if she’s in real danger.
Moreover, cavies, just like cattle and goats are herd animals. They feel safer in large numbers and get very lonely when alone. So, if you own one cavy pet and keep it alone, chances are; your guinea pig will be afraid of the dark. It gets worse if you also own a big pet like a dog or cat. To cavies, dogs and cats look a lot like predators.
If you want to understand in detail how to introduce a new friend to your pet, please go ahead and read this article. I have a section there about guinea pig’s best way to introduce a new cavy friend.
Do Guinea Pigs Prefer the Dark?
Yes, in most cases guinea pigs prefer the dark, especially when it is peaceful and quiet. In the wildlife, their natural habitat is holes and tunnels. They live in holes because they are dark and small enough to keep large animals away. Usually, they seek refuge in their hiding spots whenever they sense danger.
For domestic cavies, it is crucial to provide dark places in their cages for them to hide or retreat when they sense danger. As a matter of fact, this research shows that to reduce stress levels, it is essential for domesticated guinea pigs to retreat when they are scared.
Should I Leave A Light On For My Guinea Pig?
Although guinea pigs prefer the dark, when there is an unusual sound in dark places or a predator lurking around, guinea pigs are usually afraid of the dark. So, if you notice that your pet runs around, makes disturbing noises, or freezes a lot in the dark, you should leave the light on for your pet.
What are Guinea Pigs Afraid of?
Usually, cavies have a good sense of hearing and could detect sound noises of about 49,000 Hz. They can also hear a sound coming from somewhere as far as 2 miles away! That is how good their sense of hearing is. Heavy or loud thuds could make your pet think a predator is coming. You should make sure you don’t leave the TV open at night near your guinea pig. Even if you think it almost makes no noise, for your cavy it’s loud and scary.
These members of the Caviidae family are afraid of people, especially strangers. Other pets such as cats and dogs may enjoy people carrying and petting them. But, guinea pigs don’t. Cavies are shy animals, and being around people can be terrifying for them.
What would a prey animal be scared of the most of if not the predator? Some natural predators to guinea pigs are coyotes, snakes, cats, wolves, owls, and hawks. Moreover, cavies easily think bigger animals are predators. If you think your cat or dog is keeping your pet company, your cavy pet is probably terrified of it.
Being alone in a new environment
When a cavy is kept all alone, she feels vulnerable to danger. Cavies are social animals, and in their natural states, they move in herds. So, it is natural for them to be afraid when they are kept alone. It is better to have two of them instead of one. See here where I write about bringing a new friend to your cavy and its advantages.
Are Guinea Pigs Afraid of Thunderstorms?
Yes, guinea pigs are afraid of thunderstorms. Sudden loud noises scare them. Nobody gets warned before thunder strikes unless you consider lightning as a warning. Sometimes, human beings panic when there is a thunderstorm too. The loudness of one clap of thunder to the ground level is about 120 decibels.
That is louder than the sound of a lawnmower. Averagely, a lawnmower is as loud as 80 decibels. Now imagine what a thunderstorm does to an animal as little as your cavy pet. That is constant exposure to ear-piercing sound. And that makes them terrified because they have a stronger sense of hearing than human beings.
Can Guinea Pigs See In The Dark?
The answer is that we don’t really know that guinea pigs can see in the dark. Some say they can see even better than humans but there is no proven research to confirm it. However, they do feel very comfortable in the dark. They have a very good sense of smell and hearing which they can navigate easily in the dark. It seems they rely also on their whiskers to navigate as researches show that rats are using their whiskers to navigate their way in the dark as well.
Are Guinea Pigs Nocturnal?
It’s easy to conclude that guinea pigs are nocturnal because they are mostly awake at night. However, guinea pigs are not nocturnal. They are crepuscular animals. That means they are awake both during the day and at night. So, when do they sleep? Cavies usually tap short naps of three to ten minutes. If you have one of them, you should notice how they easily wake whenever people go close to them or if there is a sudden sound.
You must know that while you are asleep, your pet is probably awake. That makes it essential to create a safe environment for your pet. Keep her in a cage and provide hiding spots for her. Also, leave some food for her so she could nibble on her juicy leaves when she gets bored. Lastly, keep her cage in the quietest place in the room so she will not be easily perturbed.
Can Guinea Pigs See Color?
Yes. Guinea pigs can see color. However, researches show that they can see some colors not as good as humans. Some studies show they can better recognize green color on other colors but there is no real proof for that. You can test that by setting some colored bottles near them and see where they go first.
How Far Can Guinea Pigs See?
Guinea pig’s eyesight is very poor and they can only see up to 4 feet. We learned that they have a very good smell sense and a very strong memory ability, so they mostly rely on that and not on their vision.
Now that you know when guinea pigs are afraid of the dark, ensure to keep them safe. If you have a new cavy pet, get her another cavy to keep her company. That way, she wouldn’t feel alone in the dark. Also, if you have a cavy pet that screams alone in the dark, keep the light on so she wouldn’t feel so scared. However, should the whimpering persists, consult a veterinary immediately. There is a possibility that an underlying medical condition is putting your cavy in pain. And remember: keep your cavy pet in a quiet and peaceful area.