Can Guinea Pigs See In The Dark  – Can They Have Fun At Night?

Guinea pigs are adorable little creatures to own. They are always doing fun little activities and sometimes you may even wake up to their noises at night. But, how well do they see at night? Can guinea pigs see in the dark?

Yes, they can see in the dark up to some extent. Unfortunately, your pet piggy has very limited vision in the dark. To make up for their poor vision, they use other senses and their whiskers to navigate around. However, the topic is still up for debate.

Guinea pigs are diurnal. This means they usually stay active at day times and sleep at night. But, sometimes you might find your guinea pig awake at night. If you do, you might wonder how well they see. Let’s find out.

How Well Do Guinea Pigs See In The Dark? – The Complete Guide

Fortunately, guinea pigs can see despite their vision being poor and have no trouble navigating around in the dark. The reason why knowing how well they see in the dark is to determine if they need a night light.

Even though their vision is limited at night, there are other factors that help them navigate better. Firstly, they have a very sharp memory. They know where there is a tunnel or a pathway in the wild.

In domestic homes, they know where there is a sofa in the way or a drawer, or simply where their cage is. Additionally, they also use their sense of smell and hearing to improve their navigation in the dark.

Based on this, it is safe to deduct that they do not need a night light. Having a night light on for them will only confuse their natural body clock.

It is also bad for their health since night lights can make identifying sleep times difficult for them. But that’s not all, here is our take on the guinea pig vision to help you understand things better.

1) How Do The Eyes Of A Guinea Pig React In The Dark?

Guinea pigs are diurnal animals and their eyes react to light differently than nocturnal animals. To help you understand how they react to different lighting conditions let’s focus on the structure of their eyes.

A) Rods, Cones, And Photopigment:

Guinea pig’s eyes comprise of rods and cones. They are essentially referred to as photoreceptors which is what allows them to look and see things.

Guinea pig’s eyes comprise of rods and cones

Rod photoreceptors work by adjusting and responding to the amount of brightness. They primarily respond to dim lightning and are more active when the brightness is low.

They work as photopigments upon exposure to light. In contrast, cone photoreceptors respond to bright lightning and are more active when the brightness is high. They adjust the clarity and sharpness of the eye.

Keep in mind, the eyes of diurnal and nocturnal animals are not the same. Their structure is different and here’s how.

  • Nocturnal animals – Their eyes contain photopigments in the rod part of their eyes. It absorbs light, reacts to it, and restores almost immediately. This allows them to see things better in the dark.
  • Diurnal animals (guinea pigs) – Their eyes too have photopigments in the rod part of their eyes. It absorbs light, and instead of being replaced, it becomes inactive. Since the process of restoration/replacement is considerably slow, it makes it difficult for them to see at night (under dim light conditions).

B) Pupil Size And Shape Of Guinea Pigs:

Guinea pigs’ pupils are significantly smaller in contrast to nocturnal animals. The pupils of nocturnal animals are larger. Due to this, their eyes can absorb more light which allows them to see better.

Guinea pigs’ pupils are significantly smaller in contrast to nocturnal animals

This makes nocturnal animals see things better at night but there is a downside to this. The image that they see has poor sharpness which can make it difficult for them to distinguish between things.

Now when it comes to guinea pigs, their pupil size is significantly smaller. This allows less light to enter their eyes and as a result, they have trouble seeing things in the dark. However, the image they see is much sharper.

2) What Is The Limitation In A Guinea Pig’s Vision?

The primary limitation in their eyes is the focus and traveling distance.

Unfortunately, your pet piggy’s vision can make things complicated for them. Compared to other animals, guinea pigs have really poor eyesight which can be pretty off-putting.

Your pet piggy can see a whopping 33 images per second. Whereas, we humans can only focus on up to 22 images per second. Now, the limitation in their vision is that they need to have an equal focus on each of the 33 images they see.

As a result, it affects the traveling distance of your pet guinea pig’s eyes. Since they need to focus on each of the 33 images at the same time, their vision is essentially short-sighted.

To help with their short-sightedness, they need to use their other senses. These include their ears, nose, and whiskers.

It allows them to deal with threats better and determine whether they need to defend themselves in the wild.

3) How Far Can Guinea Pigs See?

Unfortunately, your guinea pig does not have very good eyesight. They can only see up to 3 to 5 feet. Anything beyond this will be hard for them to see.

If you place anything 5 feet away from your pet, all it will see is a blurred image. However, your pet will likely use its other senses to make up for its poor eyesight.

If you place anything 5 feet away from your pet, all it will see is a blurred image

This is why your pet piggy may sometimes get spooked if you walk past them from a distance. This is because they cannot figure out if it is you or any potential predator hunting them.

4) Is The Depth Perception Of Guinea Pigs Any Good?

In short, no. Their depth perception is poor and they have a hard time figuring out how far an object is. This can be proved by simply doing a small experiment.

Try picking up your pet guinea pig and hold it mid-air with no surface underneath its feet. It will stress your pet out since it cannot figure out how high it is in the air.

But, to deal with this, guinea pigs rely on their sharp memory. They have a general perspective of things in their mind which helps them figure out the distances and improve their depth perception.

Additionally, on studying the nature of guinea pigs in the wild, we know that they use tunnels and grasses to hide from predators. They can keep track of their routes and know precisely where their hiding spots are.

They use the same technique to move around in domestic homes as well. So, although their depth perception is bad, they use their memory to keep track of their surroundings even in dark lighting conditions.

5) Do Guinea Pigs See Straight Or Sideways?

Your pet guinea pig can see almost everything in its surroundings. They have a 340-degree vision which helps them see both straight and sideways.

For instance, even if they have turned their back towards you, they can still see you clearly. Your pet guinea pig has a long body, and its eyes are sideways. But, despite that, they can see an all-round image.

Your pet guinea pig has a long body, and its eyes are sideways

The only downside to their vision is that they cannot see under them. If you place your pet’s food bowl right under the nose area, it will not be able to see it. Due to this, they rely on their sense of smell to locate their food.

6) Do Guinea Pigs Close Their Eyes When They Are Asleep?

In short, they may and may not. Since your pet constantly fears being attacked by predators, they may sometimes keep their eyes open to defend themselves better in case something goes wrong.

They only close their eyes when they feel secure in their surroundings. So, if you see your pet sleeping with its eyes open, you should not worry.

This fear is hardwired in their brains and they may feel insecure no matter how secure they are in their cages.

7) Do Guinea Pigs Like To Sleep In The Dark?

In short, yes! They like to sleep in the dark. As mentioned earlier, they prefer the dark. In the dark, they feel secure, comfortable, and calmer. But, the fear is still there which is why they are called crepuscular animals.

They sleep in a cycle of 3 to 10 minutes to stay rested and defend themselves at the same time, in case of any possible predator attacks.

Guinea pigs sleep in a cycle of 3 to 10 minutes

But, if their cage is dark enough and there is no noise, they can take a much longer nap. The short 3 to 10 minute naps are ideally daytime naps and depend on how comfortable they are in their surroundings.

Given that they are comfortable enough, they can doze off irrespective of whether it is the day or the night.

How Could Guinea Pig Whiskers Help Them Navigate At Night?

Guinea pigs use their whiskers all the time to navigate around at night. They are essentially referred to as vibrissae. While they might seem just hair to us, they are much more to them.

The whiskers of guinea pigs allow them to determine the width of their surroundings, for instance, the opening of their cage. But that’s not all, they can determine the shape of their path as well using their whiskers.

So, even though they may have a hard time seeing in the dark, their whiskers certainly make up for this shortcoming.

Additionally, there are also other senses that they rely upon. These include:

1) Hearing:

Your pet piggy has an out-of-the-ordinary sense of hearing. They have the ability to hear and receive much higher frequencies of sound compared to us.

It not only allows them to identify threats in their surroundings but also allows them to move around and avoid obstacles.

But, unfortunately, it can turn out to be bad for your pet guinea pig as well. Loud noises in their surroundings can scare them and they may feel stressed. Due to this, you need to keep their cage away from noisy areas.

2) Smell:

Similar to their hearing, they also have an excellent sense of smell. It allows them to navigate around, smell their food, and communicate with other guinea pigs as well.

What Could You Do To Improve Their Eyesight?

Guinea pigs have poor eyesight but that doesn’t mean you cannot do anything to help their eyesight. The only thing that you can do to improve their eyesight is to give them a healthy diet like Parsley, Brussels sprouts, Mangoes, Peaches, Blackberries, Cauliflower, Pineapples, Raspberries, Cilantro.

Make sure your pet’s diet is well balanced and filled with fruits and veggies that are rich in nutrients. To get you started, here are some foods that you can add to their diet.

Green beansBok choyApplesTomatoBeets
Bibb lettuceEscaroleBeet topsRadishesBell pepper
CabbageSummer squashPumpkinMintArugula
RocketSpinachParsnipArtichokeSwiss chard
CarrotsCarrot topsRomaineAsparagusYu Choy
ZucchiniBroccoliniButtercrunch lettuce

Keep in mind, when you feed your pet guinea pig such treats, make sure you keep their proportions small. This will make sure you do not expose them to an imbalance of nutrients and lead to health complications.

Apart from this, make sure you feed your pet guinea pig vitamin C-based foods the most. Since they do not have the ability to produce or store vitamin C in their bodies, you need to give them vitamin C-rich foods.

This will allow you to keep your pet’s immune system strong and lower the risks of them suffering from eye complications.

Frequently Asked Questions

1) How Good Is A Guinea Pig’s Eyesight?

Unfortunately, their eyesight is very poor. They have difficulty seeing things in the dark and have to rely on their whiskers, sense of hearing, and smell.

Their eyesight is good for only 3 feet, and anything away from this will be blurry to them.

2) Do Guinea Pigs Have A Wide Field Of Vision?

In short, yes, guinea pigs have a wide field of vision. This is ideal in the wild and allows them to see predators in a whopping 340-degree field of view.

In short, yes, guinea pigs have a wide field of vision

However, they do have poor depth perception which makes it difficult for them to determine how far their predator is.

3) What Colors Do Guinea Pigs See?

The eyes of a guinea pig have a dichromatic color scheme. Based on this, their vision is more sensitive to green colors. But this does not necessarily mean they cannot see other colors.

They do see other colors but just have the tendency to see green colors better than others.

4) Do Guinea Pigs Need Light At Night?

In short, no, they do not need a night light at night. Since your pet guinea pig fears being attacked by predators, you might think of adding a night light to their cage to make them feel secure. Makes sense, right?

But, that is strictly not the case here. Your pet piggy feels more safe and comfortable under dark lighting conditions. So, adding a night light to their cage would not be a wise thing to do.

It will only make them feel stressed and insecure. Additionally, it will also mess with their sleep times which can end up being unhealthy for them.

Can Guinea Pigs See In The Dark – Conclusion:

Can guinea pigs see in the dark? Yes, up to some extent. Your pet guinea pig has trouble seeing things in the dark since its pupils are much smaller in size. Due to this, they do not receive much light to help them see better.

But, fortunately, guinea pigs have other senses and features that they can rely upon. They use their whiskers, and sense of smell, and hearing to navigate around.

The only thing that you can do to help keep their eyes healthy is to feed them fruits and veggies that are rich in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Besides, it will also keep your pet’s eyes safe from numerous eye diseases.

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