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Do Guinea Pigs Hibernate? (True Hibernation VS. Torpor Breakdown)

A lot of animals hibernate to conserve energy during the cold winter months – when there’s barely any food and warmth. Think sleepy hedgehogs tucked away in their dens or furry bears snuggled up in the hollow of a tree.

What about the piggies we keep as pets? Do guinea pigs hibernate like their more well-known mammal cousins?

Key Takeaway:

Guinea pigs enter a state of light sleep called torpor when their homes become uncomfortably cold. Unlike hibernation, torpor only lasts for a couple of nights. During torpor, a guinea pig slows his metabolism and lowers his normal body temperature. His heart rate slows down too.

As a loving fuzzy biscuit parent, you want your piggy to stay nice and toasty inside his home. But for that, you need some more piggy sleep and comfortable temperature details. Luckily, we come bearing answers.

So, are you ready to do the job of keeping your guinea pigs warm right? Let’s learn more coming up next in the article.

portrait of guinea pig inside its house

Can Guinea Pigs Hibernate?

We know that mammals and birds snooze away the cold season in a sort of deep sleep called hibernation. That’s their smart (and only) way of surviving the cold weather.

But can guinea pigs go into hibernation?

The answer is no! Guinea pigs aren’t true hibernating species. So, no hibernation for them, even if it gets chilly.

Why? Don’t they want to save their piggly wiggly energy?

Well, our adorable little fur balls are closely related to the wild guinea pigs of the warm areas of South America. These guys never had to deal with cold temperatures or go without food or sunshine for days. So they never needed hibernation.

Then, why does my floofy little piggy hide so often? Isn’t that hibernation?

Guinea pigs are timid. They'll run to their hideys and burrow themselves if they feel scared. They'll come out sooner than you know. They aren't sleeping in there. But there can be instances when you find your guinea pig snoring in a deep sleep. Here's what's going on with him.

Torpor in Guinea Pigs

Torpor?

Torpor is like a hushed melody of hibernation. It’s a state between true hibernation and light sleep. Your popcorn’s body temperature, breathing, and heart rate will drop in this sleepy state. It helps him conserve energy.

Unlike true hibernation, which can last for weeks, torpor can only last a few days. But it’s still enough to give your guinea pig an energy boost during the cold days.

When Do Guinea Pigs Hibernate?

Well, here’s the thing about guinea pigs and hibernation: they missed that memo! These fluffy little creatures are not the nap-in-a-cave type. No winter snoozes for them!

But yes, they do slow down and limit their activities – that’s what torpor is.

Guinea pigs are warmth-loving nuggets. They don’t enjoy cold winter days. So, when the temperature drops, they instinctively kick into their torpor mode to conserve energy and stay snug.

Note: Some torpid animals can go into daily torpor. It’s like taking an unplanned short nap every day for a few hours.

How Long Do Guinea Pigs Hibernate?

Your guinea pig doesn’t hibernate. He is torpid – or, as we like to call it, “taking a piggy siesta.” If you keep his home warm and comfy, he’ll be awake to entertain you with his adorable antics all year round. But if it gets cold, he’ll take a break for a day or two – just like all torpid animals.

Do Guinea Pigs Hibernate With Their Eyes Open?

Guinea pigs are the masters of multitasking when it comes to torpor. Your cuddle puff has this incredible ability to go into torpor while keeping his eyes wide open. It’s his way of announcing: “Hey, I might be snoozing, but I’m still keeping an eye on you!”

Why wouldn’t he shut his eyes? Does he have no eyelids?

Oh, he does have eyelids, and he knows how to shut his eyes. But he also likes staying alert. In the wild, predators enjoy snatching up sleepy critters. The fear of becoming a meal while dreaming of their own has hardwired guinea pigs into constant vigilance. It is why they barely shut their eyes.

Can I keep my cuddle bun from getting into torpor?

Of course! You only have to keep him warm and full. Let’s find out the details of how to keep guinea pigs comfortable.

Ideal Guinea Pig Temperature

Guinea pigs might look invincible with all those layers of fur, but these little guys are delicate and temperature sensitive. Unlike their rugged rodent relatives who can weather any storm, guinea pigs prefer cozy climates. If it gets uncomfortably hot or cold, guinea pigs may become unwell.

Also, sudden temperature changes don’t work for them. So, whenever you adjust the thermostat, especially during winter, do it in slow increments.

Got it! So, what temperature should I keep my guinea pig’s home during winter? 

Here’s your answer.

cute photo of guinea pig wearing hat

Perfect Daytime Temperature for Guinea Pigs

During the day, make sure your floof’s home is at a comfortable temperature between 65 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit (18-29 degrees Celsius).

If the temperature rises above 85°F (29°C), your piggy can get a heatstroke.

Want to avoid any mess-ups?

Keep a thermometer inside their enclosure. That way, you can easily measure the temperature and know when it’s time to adjust (so your fluffy friend stays comfy and safe).

Perfect Night Time Temperature for Guinea Pigs

Cold temperatures can cause guinea pigs to go into torpor. If you don’t want that to happen, don’t let the temperatures in their piggy homes drop below 60°F (16°C) during the night.

If you live in a colder climate, you’ll need a jumper or heat lamp to keep your puffy warm.

What Will Happen If My Guinea Pig Gets Too Cold?

You know the drill. If the temperature in your guinea pig’s enclosure go below 60°F (16°C), he might enter a state of torpor. Your pet will be sluggish, he won’t respond much, and his heartbeat will be slow. He might even play dead and give you a mini heart attack.

If you want to wake him from his deep sleep, move him to a cozier, warmer spot. That’s the good thing about torpor; unlike hibernation, it doesn’t last for months.

What happens if I fail to do so?

Well, in that case, your guinea pig will get hypothermia. His normal body temperature, which is around 100°F to 102°F (38°C to 39°C), will drop to a dangerous low. It’s a medical emergency.

Can hypothermia kill my piggy?

Sadly, yes. Hypothermia can be fatal. Even if you manage to warm your furry baby up, he could still have a few health complications.

Hey, but don’t toast the poor fellow, either! Heatstroke is real too!

Signs of Hypothermia

How will I know if my piggy has hypothermia?

Luckily, our pets know how to communicate their issues. If you observe any of the symptoms listed below, take your guinea pig to the vet immediately:

  • Cold shivers: If your guinea pig feels cold, he’ll shiver. If you have two or more living together, they’ll be snuggling together to keep warm.
  • Cold feet and ears: These areas of your guinea pig’s body get colder due to their lack of fat insulation. Also, check the nose. If these three areas are cold, it’s your cue.
  • Hunching: Because a guinea pig cannot move around to generate heat, he will hunch into a ball to conserve his body heat.
  • Lethargy: Your piggy will become less active and lethargic if he’s too cold.

How Can I Keep My Piggy Warm?

One thing’s certain: our pet piggies don’t do great in colder temperatures. So, it’s your responsibility to ensure their homes are warm enough for them to live comfortably and happily. Here’s what you can do to keep your pet guinea pig warm:

Relocate His Cage

Ideally, you should keep your guinea pig’s cage away from drafty areas and direct sunlight. If possible, move the cage inside during winter.

Make Your Pet Piggy Exercise

Keep your guinea pig active during the cold months. It will help him keep his body temperature up and burn off any excess fat he’s consuming. Offer him a wide variety of activities such as a wheel, toys, or an agility course. You can also play with him to have some fun.

Provide Warm Bedding

Cage bedding should be warm and comfortable. During winter, you can use shredded paper, fleece blankets, hay, and straw. Also, add a few hideouts where your guinea pig can snuggle in and stay warm.

Optimize Temperatures

If your pet lives with you indoors, he will get enough heat from your lighting. But if he lives outdoors, you need to provide a consistent temperature for him. The ideal temperature range should be between 16 and 29 degrees Celsius (60°F and 85°F). Also, use an outdoor thermometer to monitor the temperature inside his cage.

Monitor Your Furry Friend

Constantly monitor your pet guinea pig closely. If you notice any signs of discomfort, rush to the vet. It is crucial during the winter months.

do guinea pigs make a lot of noise at night

Sleepy Myths Busted – The Truth Behind Guinea Pig Hibernation and Torpor

Guinea pigs come from the warmest parts of South America. They’ve never had to live without food or deal with colder temperatures. So, hibernation isn’t up their sleeves.

Then how do guinea pigs deal with extreme temperatures?

They enter a sleepy state between true hibernation and light sleeping. It’s called torpor. Torpor involves lower body temperature, heart rate, and metabolic rate. Sleeping for a few hours (or days) helps our piggies conserve energy.

If you don’t want your pet guinea pig to sleep for days, keep his home comfortable and warm. No toasting, no freezing. Keep it just right between 16 and 29°C (60°F and 85°F).

Remember, your adorable munchkin can die of heatstroke or hypothermia if it gets too hot or cold. You gotta be careful, parents!

Did you find the information in this article helpful?

At Oddly Cute Pets, we’re committed to providing our readers with the best advice for keeping their pets safe, healthy, and happy. If you want more information on rodents, check out our website – it’s packed with resources!

Thanks for reading, pals!

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