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Pet Health & Wellness

Do Guinea Pigs Hibernate? Let’s Find Out!

Do guinea pigs hibernate? Actually, no, it’s all misconception. Have you ever wondered what guinea pigs do when it gets freezing? Some animals, like bears, sleep through the winter in a deep sleep called hibernation. But do guinea pigs do the same? Let’s find out!

In this article, you will learn:

  • The difference between sleeping for a long time and just resting.
  • What guinea pigs need to stay happy and warm.
  • How to take care of your guinea pig when it’s cold outside.

Let’s dive into the world of guinea pigs and discover what they do when the weather turns chilly!

Understanding Dormancy in Guinea Pigs

Difference Between Hibernation and Torpor

Sometimes animals rest in different ways when it gets cold. There are two special kinds of rest: hibernation and torpor.

Hibernation is like a super deep sleep that lasts a long time. Animals like bears do this to save energy during winter when there isn’t much food around. They sleep without eating, drinking, or even waking up for many weeks!

do guinea pigs hibernate in winter

Torpor is a bit different. It’s like taking a short nap to save energy. Animals like hummingbirds and some small mammals use torpor. They might do this every day just for a little while to keep their energy when it’s very cold or food is hard to find.

Guinea pigs don’t hibernate, but it’s important to know how other animals rest to understand what guinea pigs do.

The Biology Behind Hibernation in Small Pets

Even though guinea pigs don’t hibernate, some small animals do. But why do some animals hibernate and others don’t? It all comes down to their bodies and what they need to stay healthy.

Animals that hibernate have a special way of slowing down their body. Their heartbeat gets slow, their temperature drops, and they use very little energy. This helps them survive when it’s cold and food is hard to find.

Guinea pigs, however, need to stay active and eat regularly. If they get too cold, they can become very sick because their bodies aren’t made to slow down like a hibernating animal’s body.

Common Misconceptions About Guinea Pig Dormancy

Sometimes, people think their guinea pigs might be hibernating if they see them lying very still, especially in colder weather. But actually, guinea pigs do not hibernate!

Here are some reasons why people might think so:

  • Guinea pigs love to stay cozy: Sometimes, they like to snuggle into their bedding when it’s cold, which might make them look like they’re hibernating.
  • They can be very still: If guinea pigs are very cold, they might not move much. This isn’t hibernation; it’s a sign they could be feeling too cold and might need help to warm up.

If you ever see your guinea pig not moving much and it’s cold, they might be too chilly and need some extra warmth and care.

Optimal Living Conditions for Guinea Pigs

Ideal Room Temperatures for Guinea Pigs

Guinea pigs feel their best when they’re not too hot and not too cold. It’s important to keep their home at just the right temperature.

  • The Ideal Daytime Temperature: During the day, try to keep the room where your guinea pigs are between 65°F to 73°F (18°C to 23°C). This is comfy and safe for them.
  • Ideal Night Time Temperature: At night, it should be a bit cooler but not cold. Make sure it stays above 60°F (16°C).

Keeping the temperature just right helps your guinea pigs stay happy and healthy.

What Happens If Guinea Pigs Get Too Cold?

If guinea pigs get too cold, they might stop moving much or not want to eat. Here are signs to watch for that show they might be too cold:

  • Shivering: Just like you might shiver when you’re cold, guinea pigs do too.
  • Staying in One Place: If they don’t move around much and stay curled up, they might be trying to keep warm.
  • Guinea Pigs Not Eating Well: If they stop eating, it could be because they are too cold to move around and get their food.

If you see these signs, it’s important to warm up your guinea pig to make sure they are safe and comfortable.

Caring for Guinea Pigs in Cold Weather

How to Keep Guinea Pigs Warm During Winter

When winter comes, it’s important to make sure your guinea pigs are warm and cozy. Here are some top tips to help them stay comfortable:

  • Reduce Drafts: Make sure no cold drafts are hitting their cage. You can move their home away from windows and doors that might let in cold air.
  • Relocate Their Cage: If their cage is on the floor, consider moving it to a higher spot where it’s warmer. Cold air tends to stay lower to the ground.
  • Optimize the Temperature: Keep their area at the ideal temperature we talked about earlier (65°F to 73°F during the day and above 60°F at night).
  • Make Sure They Can Exercise: Even when it’s cold, guinea pigs need to move around to stay healthy. Give them a safe space where they can run and play.
  • Monitor Your Guinea Pig: Keep an eye on your guinea pigs to make sure they are active and eating well. This helps you know they are warm enough.

Special Considerations for Outdoor Guinea Pigs

If your guinea pigs live outside, winter needs special preparation:

  • Good Hutch Insulation: Make sure their hutch is well insulated to keep the cold out and the warmth in.
  • Extra Cozy Bedding: Use plenty of bedding to help them stay warm. Straw and fleece are good choices because they trap heat well.
  • A Heat Pad: Consider using a safe heat pad under their bedding to provide extra warmth on very cold days.

These tips will help you ensure your guinea pigs are safe and warm throughout the winter months.

Behavioral Changes in Winter

Do Guinea Pigs Sleep More in Winter?

You might notice that your guinea pigs seem to sleep more when it’s cold. This is normal! When the temperature drops, guinea pigs might spend more time cuddled up and resting to keep warm. It doesn’t mean they are hibernating, but they are just trying to stay cozy.

Just like us, when it’s chilly, guinea pigs prefer to snuggle up and be comfortable. Make sure they have a warm and safe place to sleep, and you might see them being more active once they are warm enough.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do Guinea Pigs Go Into Hibernation?

No, guinea pigs do not go into hibernation. Unlike some animals that sleep deeply for months to survive the cold without food, guinea pigs remain active throughout the year. They require a constant supply of food and a warm environment to stay healthy.

Do Guinea Pigs Hibernate When Cold?

Guinea pigs do not hibernate when it gets cold. Instead, they need extra care to ensure they remain warm during cold weather. If a guinea pig is too cold, it may become less active and appear lethargic, which sometimes gets mistaken for hibernation.

How Long Do Guinea Pigs Hibernate?

Guinea pigs do not hibernate at all, so there is no duration for hibernation in guinea pigs. They need to maintain a regular eating schedule and should be kept in a suitable environment that protects them from extreme temperatures.

When Do Guinea Pigs Hibernate?

Guinea pigs do not hibernate at any time of the year. They are active year-round and require consistent attention to their dietary and environmental needs, regardless of the season.

Do Guinea Pigs Hibernate With Their Eyes Open?

Since guinea pigs do not hibernate, the question of whether they hibernate with their eyes open does not apply. However, it’s interesting to note that guinea pigs often sleep with their eyes open to stay alert to potential threats even when resting.

Do Guinea Pigs Hibernate in the Winter?

Guinea pigs do not hibernate in the winter. They require a stable, warm environment throughout the year to stay healthy. To keep your guinea pigs comfortable during colder months, ensure their living space is free from drafts and maintains a consistent temperature.

Do Guinea Pigs Hibernate Like Hamsters?

Unlike some hamsters that may enter a state of torpor (a light hibernation-like state) during colder periods, guinea pigs do not hibernate or enter torpor. They remain active all year round and need continuous access to food and warm habitat.

Do Guinea Pigs Naturally Hibernate?

Guinea pigs do not naturally hibernate. As pets, they rely on their owners to provide a controlled environment that meets their needs for warmth and nutrition throughout all seasons.

How Do I Know If My Guinea Pig is Hibernating?

Since guinea pigs do not hibernate, if your guinea pig is inactive and unresponsive, it may be a sign of illness or environmental stress, such as being too cold. It is crucial to ensure they are warm enough and to consult a veterinarian if their behavior changes significantly or they show signs of distress.


Today, we learned a lot about guinea pigs and how they handle the cold weather. They don’t hibernate like some animals, but they do need some special care to stay warm and happy during the winter. Remember, if you ever notice your guinea pigs are not moving much or seem unusually quiet, check if they are too cold and make their environment warmer and more comfortable.

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