If you’ve ever looked into a guinea pig’s wide, buggy eyes you’ve probably missed an important feature: their eyelids. Guinea pigs do in fact have eyelids. They are just not used for blinking or sleeping, so it is harder to notice or even see them.
So what is their purpose? Why do guinea pigs even have eyelids? Mostly to occasionally flush out anything that may be bothering their eyes, but for the most part, they really are not an important body part.
Do Guinea Pigs Have Eyelids?
Guinea pigs do have eyelids, they are just not the same as humans’ eyelids and hold different functions. Since guinea pigs are prey animals, they need their eyes to remain open way more often than they need to be closed, and therefore do not use their eyelids as much as humans.
Do Guinea Pigs Blink?
In a nutshell, yes, guinea pigs blink. They do it much less often than humans, however, because they are not using their eyes for the same functions as us. Guinea pigs mostly blink as an unconscious habit or to get something out of their eye.
Other senses, such as their smell and hearing are far more important than sight. Some believe this is because guinea pigs cannot touch their faces, therefore it is harder to accidentally knock something into their eye.
Another, more reasonable theory is guinea pigs that feel secure blink a little more often because they are not constantly on the search for predators. Wild guinea pigs will rarely blink to keep themselves from becoming prey.
Guinea pigs are prey animals and their instinct is to be on the lookout for something that will eat them.
If a guinea pig is blinking a lot, it could indicate an issue. They could have something in their eye like a piece of bedding, soap in their eye from having a bath, an injury, or even something as simple as being bothered by a scent in the air of their environment. Always check on a guinea pig if you notice them blinking frequently.
Do Guinea Pigs Close Their Eyes?
Guinea pigs do not close their eyes for any extended amount of time due to the reasons above; they are trying to avoid becoming prey. So yes, this means that guinea pigs actually sleep with their eyes open! A little bit freaky, wouldn’t you say?
Guinea pigs do this so that if they are startled or targeted as prey, they can make a quick getaway. You may notice them blink occasionally to moisten their eyes while they sleep, but it isn’t very common.
Sleeping with their eyes open can also be confusing for predators, because they may think the guinea pig is always awake. Basically, you will never see a guinea pig close its eyes for any amount of time longer than a blink.
How Do I Know My Guinea Pig Is Asleep?
Like most snoozing pets, you will know your guinea pig is asleep by their relaxed state of being. Without them being able to close their eyes during rest, this may be tricky. However, there are some tell-tale signs that your guinea pig is enjoying a lovely nap.
First, they may have rapid eye movements, just like when we are in a deep sleep. Their little ears and whiskers may twitch in dreamlike motions as well.
Second, they will most likely be very still and in a dark spot of their cage. Guinea pigs do not like to sleep out in the open because, once again, they are prey animals and like to feel secure.
Hamsters, mice, and rats are all nocturnal animals. This means that they are active at night and sleep during the day. Guinea pigs are actually not rodents, so they will mostly be active during the day instead.
Do Guinea Pigs Have Good Vision?
Guinea pigs have pretty limited vision, but they have some advantages. Their eyes are completely symmetrical on the sides of their face, so they are able to see 340 degrees. Amazing! They are able to see all the way around them, but not very well in front of them.
Guinea pigs also have very fast vision. They can see 33 frames of images in a second, compared to humans that can only see up to 22 frames.
Because guinea pigs can mostly see around and to the sides of themselves, their forward vision is weak. They really are only able to see about a meter in front of them, so they rely on other senses like smell, sound, and other feelings about their surroundings to paint a picture of their environment.
Guinea pigs are also highly reliant on their memory to get them to safety. This memory reliance is also seen in rabbits; they are also prey animals and need their strong memory to get them back home and through places like tunnels and trails while they forage.
Despite not having the strongest vision, guinea pigs still have a pretty wide range of color vision and can see in the dark. It hasn’t been proven that guinea pigs have true night vision, but owners and other guinea pig experts can clearly see their functionality in the dark due to them being closely related to the rodent family.
Guinea pigs are susceptible to blindness, especially because their eyesight is not that great to begin with. Some are blind from birth and others get it in their old age.
You may be able to tell blindness by the way a guinea pig reacts to a new environment or by shining a light in their eyes. If a guinea pig is blind, it will shine white instead of a reflective red. Even if blind, guinea pigs can still make great pets with some extra love and affection.
Guinea pigs rarely close their bright eyes as a defense mechanism against predators. They do have eyelids, though, and will blink occasionally out of habit, or to clear things out of their eyes.
Guinea pigs are susceptible to blindness, however, so a guinea pig owner should take extra special care of their pet’s eyes. If you own a guinea pig and notice they are blinking quite a lot, inspect their eyes and make sure there isn’t anything irritating them or there isn’t any form of injury.