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Home > Guinea Pigs > Do Guinea Pigs Blink? Vet-Approved Facts & FAQ

Do Guinea Pigs Blink? Vet-Approved Facts & FAQ

oung guinea pig lies in a hammock and sleeps

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Dr. Marta Vidal-Abarca

Veterinarian, BVSc GPCert (Ophthal) MRCVS

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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If you are a guinea pig owner, you know how sweet these tiny pets are. They provide us with unconditional love and affection and rely on our gentle hands to care for them. You have also probably noticed your guinea pig’s strange sleeping habits—their eyes are always open!

This habit may make you wonder, is there ever a time when I’ve seen my guinea pig blink? While not as frequently as we do, guinea pigs do blink. In fact, studies have proven that they blink two to five times per eye over 20 minutes. In fact, blinking is necessary for eye health, to stay moist and remove any possible debris.

Read the article below to learn more about these strange habits and why guinea pigs blink so little.


Guinea Pig Vision

Guinea pig outdoors
Image By: Birute Vijeikiene, Shutterstock

Guinea pigs have decent vision, although they don’t rely on it as their primary sense. Guinea pigs’ eyes are placed laterally rather than frontally, like other rodents, giving them an extremely wide visual field of approximately 340 degrees. They do rely on their vision to spot predators. However, because of the lateral eye position, their depth perception is quite bad. Instead of their sight, guinea pigs use the hairs on their muzzles to measure the widths of openings.

Because a guinea pig’s vision is not as developed as their predator’s, they depend on other senses to keep them safe. Their sense of smell is excellent, compensating for their poor night vision. Additionally, guinea pigs are crepuscular, rather than nocturnal, like other rodents, and are awake during dusk and dawn, lowering their need for night vision.

When it comes to color, guinea pigs have dichromatic color vision, meaning they can see colors, but not as well as humans do. This happens because they have two types of cone cells that perceive color rather than the three types that humans have.

Do Guinea Pigs Blink?

Blinking in guinea pigs is essential for two reasons:
  • To keep their eyes moist by distributing tears
  • To remove any dirt or debris that may accumulate

While healthy humans blink approximately every 3 to 4 seconds to keep their eyes moist, this is not the case for guinea pigs. Guinea pigs blink only when really necessary, which translates to around 2 to 5 times every 20 minutes, according to a 2007 study. The frequency of blinking is a lot lower than in humans.

Guinea pigs have evolved to try to blink as little as possible. This is because guinea pigs are on the constant lookout, so much so that they even keep their eyes open when they sleep. Unlike us humans, guinea pigs try to leave their eyes open even when they are startled. This is an instinct from the wild, where a single blink could jeopardize their lives.


Frequently Asked Questions

Why is my guinea pig blinking a lot?

Seeing your guinea pig blink more than usual is a sign of a problem. The issue doesn’t always have to be serious—it might be that something got inside their eyes, and they’re trying to get it out by blinking.

There could be particles that are irritating to your guinea pig’s eyes in your environment. Using cedar bedding can cause eye irritations, for example.

two white guinea pigs with brown fur with a touch of white
Image Credit: Siki_31, Shutterstock

What are the signs my guinea pig has eye problems?

Specific eye problems such as infections or injuries can cause guinea pigs to blink frequently or keep the affected eye shut completely. If you suspect your guinea pig is blinking more than normal, look for any signs of swelling, redness, or discharge from the eyes.

How to tell the difference between a sleeping and an awake guinea pig?

As we’ve already mentioned, guinea pigs usually sleep with their eyes open to have a constant lookout for potential predators. While this is the case, if a guinea pig feels safe, they might occasionally close their eyes to sleep. If your guinea pig still sleeps with their eyes open, you can spot them drifting off and not being as energetic as when they’re awake. However, these daytime naps last for a very short time.


Final Thoughts

Learning about the unique behavior of guinea pigs will take us one step closer to understanding their habits and quirks. Blinking might be a regular part of their day, but it only occurs several times. Guinea pigs need to constantly look out of their surroundings to ensure there are no predators nearby. They will keep their eyes open and avoid blinking as much as possible.

Featured Image Credit: Nataliaphoto2708, Shutterstock

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