Guinea pigs require a lot of care and attention to keep them healthy and happy.
Guinea pigs are crepuscular animals, which means they are most active at dawn and dusk.
They tend to sleep in short 10-20 minute intervals and get around four hours of total sleep on a typical day.
Many guinea pig owners worry about the quality of their pet’s sleep, and they wonder if they should be covering the cage at night.
Covering a guinea pig’s cage at night will help them sleep, keep them warm, and avoid any fighting or unintended mating between two guinea pigs in a divided enclosure. On the downside, covering the guinea pig’s cage may cause stress and breathing problems.
The decision to cover a guinea pig’s cage during the night should be based on the animal’s behavior.
If you think covering the enclosure at night is causing stress to your guinea pig, then it is best to discontinue doing so.
Keep reading for more information on covering your guinea pig’s cage at night, including the ways it might affect your pet and how to do it safely.
Reasons To Cover Your Guinea Pig’s Cage At Night
Covering the Cage to Help Your Guinea Pig Sleep
Guinea pigs are prey animals, and they like to have dark places to hide where they feel safe from potential predators.
While this is not a worry in captivity, larger animals in the household, such as cats and dogs, may cause your guinea pig to have trouble sleeping.
If your guinea pig is not used to having its cage covered at night, the animal may have some difficulty adjusting to the change at first.
Guinea pigs sometimes sleep with their eyes open, so the darkness a cage cover provides is ideal for them.
However, since these animals sleep for short periods, they are awake and alert during various times throughout the night.
A soft night light placed near the cage will provide your guinea pig with a bit of light if you are worried the total darkness is causing stress for your pet.
Covering the Cage to Keep Your Guinea Pig Warm
Covering your guinea pig’s cage at night will help keep your pet warm.
This is especially helpful in the winter months or during the summer when an air-conditioned environment may be too cold for your pet.
Guinea pigs are sensitive to both heat and cold, and they do best at an ambient temperature range between 70-80° degrees Fahrenheit (27° C).
If you are concerned about the room being too cold for your guinea pig, be sure to stop any drafts coming in through windows or open doors.
It is also a good idea to keep your guinea pig’s enclosure away from any heating and cooling vents to keep the enclosure at a stable temperature.
Covering the Cage to Avoid Unwanted Behavior
If you have cage mates separated by a cage divider, cover the enclosure at night to prevent unwanted behavior.
Male guinea pigs are very aggressive toward each other, and they may climb over the plastic cage wall to fight.
Likewise, if you are housing a male and female together, you want to ensure the male does not scale the wall to mate with the female at night.
Covering the cage will help prevent these unwanted behaviors when you are unable to supervise your pets during the night.
A covering will also keep the guinea pigs in a more calm and relaxed state once they are used to it.
Will Covering Your Guinea Pig’s Cage Cause Stress?
When your guinea pig is not used to having its cage covered at night, it may seem stressed out about it at first.
Keep covering the enclosure as long as your pet seems ok with it.
If covering the enclosure is causing stress to your guinea pig, stop covering the cage for a while.
Once you think your guinea pig can handle it, start by only covering part of the enclosure at a time and seeing how your pet reacts.
If this does not stress out your guinea pig, gradually begin to cover more of the cage and observe your pet for signs of stress.
As long as your pet remains calm throughout the process, you will eventually get to a point where the cage is covered almost completely, and your guinea pig is sleeping better at night.
Always leave part of the enclosure uncovered to provide plenty of ventilation in the enclosure.
A night light near the enclosure to provide a dim light instead of total darkness will also help keep your guinea pig from becoming too stressed.
Will Covering Your Guinea Pig’s Cage Cause Breathing Problems?
Guinea pigs are fragile animals, and completely covering the cage may cause them to have breathing problems and possibly suffocate.
For this reason, it is important to only partially cover the enclosure to allow for proper airflow.
Consider using a thinner cover to let more air circulate throughout the enclosure.
How To Choose A Cage Cover
Guinea pigs like to chew on things, so choosing a high-quality, strong cover for your pet’s cage is important.
A more rigid material will also make the guinea pig feel more secure.
In the same way, the enclosure needs to be cleaned to avoid smells; it is important to clean a cage cover regularly.
Check out our guide for cleaning a guinea pig cage for more info.
A waterproof cover will be easier to clean because you will only need to wipe it down instead of throwing it into the washing machine.
Whichever type of cover you choose, the material should be strong and opaque enough to keep out any unwanted light.
Some covers even have zippers to allow for proper ventilation and make the cover easier to get on and off the enclosure.
Always remember to leave part of the cage uncovered to allow for proper airflow and dim lighting.
Cover the enclosure with a towel or blanket at night.
Just make sure it does not pose a hazard if your pet decides to chew on it.
Commonly Asked Questions
How do I get my guinea pig to be quiet at night?
In addition to covering the enclosure at night, offering your guinea pig a snack before bedtime is a great way to keep your pet quiet and occupied.
Adding fresh hay and soft vegetables to the cage will give your pet something to focus on, and it will sleep better with a full stomach.
Check out our post on feeding carrots to guinea pigs for some ideas for snacking options for your pet.
Does a guinea pig cage need a roof?
A guinea pig cage does not need a roof unless the enclosure is outdoors.
In an outdoor enclosure, guinea pigs are prone to be injured or killed by predatory birds, foxes, cats, and dogs.
An indoor enclosure does not need a roof as long as you are able to keep any household pets such as dogs or cats from bothering your guinea pig.
Guinea pigs are not avid jumpers or climbers, so it is unlikely for them to escape their enclosure if the walls are at least 12″ inches tall.
Do guinea pigs get cold easily?
While guinea pigs can tolerate gradual temperature drops of around 10° degrees Fahrenheit (6° C), any sudden drop in temperature will cause your pet to become cold.
If guinea pigs are kept in cold temperatures for any time, they are more likely to develop an upper respiratory infection.
Fleece bedding will provide your pet with some warmth in its enclosure.
It is advisable to avoid exposing your guinea pig to hot temperatures as well.
If the animal gets too hot, it may become dehydrated or suffer a heat stroke.
When your guinea pig’s body temperature is high, you’ll likely notice your guinea pig’s ears turning red. (click to learn more)
Do guinea pigs need light at night?
A dim light will make your guinea pig feel more secure, especially when covering the enclosure at night.
You should completely avoid any bright light during the night because it will cause the guinea pig to have trouble sleeping.
The bright light will make it difficult for the animal to tell the day from night, interrupting its natural circadian rhythm.
Are guinea pigs afraid of the dark?
Guinea pigs are not afraid of the dark. In fact, due to their nature as prey animals, they prefer to hide in dark places to feel a sense of security.
Your guinea pig will even hide in your hair (see post) if they feel safe around you and need somewhere to feel secure. They may even eat on your hair if they’re lacking in fiber.
Because they sleep for short periods, they are active for part of the night.
If covering your guinea pig’s cage at night is causing them stress, it is not because they are afraid of the dark.
More than likely, the animal is simply stressed because they are awake and unable to see well in the dark to move around in their cage.
Providing your guinea pig with a dim night light will help it see well enough to move freely without bumping into everything inside of its enclosure.