Are Guinea Pigs Nocturnal? When are Guinea Pigs most active? 

Today we examine When Are Guinea Pigs Most Active?

Squidgypigs -  Guinea Pigs: Nocturnal or Diurnal
Squidgypigs – Guinea Pigs: Nocturnal or Diurnal

There is some debate as to what behavioural adjective best fits Guinea Pigs…
Are Guinea Pigs diurnal? 

  • Diurnal is the behavioural adjective to describe animals being:

“active during the day time”.

-Collins English Dictionary. Copyright © Harper Collins Publishers 2014

  • It may first appear that your piggies certainly matches this descriptor, happily mirroring their human’s daily routines and falling quieter once all are in bed. 
  • However as suggested above; as prey animals Guinea pigs may have learnt to stay quiet whilst the humans are quiet there is little chance that your piggies will be sleeping if you visit them, even in the dark. 
  • Have you ever accidentally crinkled a food bag at night? 

Are Guinea Pigs Nocturnal?

  • Nocturnal is the behavioural adjective to describe animals being:

“active at night”.

Collins English Dictionary – Complete and Unabridged, 12th Edition 2014 © HarperCollins Publishers 1991-2014

  • Rodents as a whole tend to be (largely incorrectly) referred to as nocturnal. 
  • However anyone who shares their life with piggies must surely know that their fluffers aren’t truly nocturnal. 
  • After all, who hasn’t been woken by their little friends wishing them a good morning? (Wheek wheek wheek wheek WHEEK WHEEK WHEEEEK…etc.).
  • Guinea Pigs do not simply shut down and sleep because the lights are off. If you visit your pets during the night they will quite likely be foraging around as if the lighting hasn’t  changed at all. 
  • Unlike the majority of owls; who will perform the best part of their lives during the hours of darkness (rarely being spotted in the day) Guinea Pigs are also comfortable going about their lives throughout the day.

Are Guinea Pigs Crepuscular?

  • Despite sounding like a way to describe something in the process of zombification; crepuscular is the behavioural adjective to describe the practice of:

“appearing or being most active at twilight.”

Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2016. 

  • Twilight is the time period immediately after dawn and also immediately before dusk.
  • Wild rabbits and (unsurprising) their main predators foxes are generally regarded as being crepuscular. 
  • Anyone would be forgiven for believing the majority of Guinea pigs probably fall quite easily into this catagory. 
  • As this is when most working and school-going humans are most likely to attend to their piggies needs this is certainly when the majority of activity will be witnessed.
  • It may be surprising though that once the aforementioned school-goers and their parents are home for the holidays and in a new routine their piggy friends will also change their habits accordingly. 
  • It should be noted I have witnessed the strange phenomenon of ‘chirping’ only occurring during this time.

So when ARE Guinea Pigs most active?

The adaptatability and human-centric behaviour described above means that Guinea Pigs simply do not neatly fit into any of the aforementioned categories. 

There is certainly a habitualised element to the flexible behaviour of domestic piggies. 

  • Feed them in the morning and they will be happy to see you. 
  • Feed them in your lunch hour and they will be happy to see you. 
  • Feed them in the middle of the night and they will still be very happy to see you! 

Having spent a lot of time observing the Squidgypigs during the day and night (thank you pregnancy induced insomnia) it is clear that at any time of the day or night you stand a chance of witnessing your pigs eating, drinking, pooping, socialising, or indeed sleeping (often all of the above at the same time in a big herd like ours). I propose that Guinea Pigs are cathermeral.

Are Guinea Pigs Cathermeral? 

  • Cathermeral is the (relatively newly proposed (1978)) behavioural adjective describing:

“an activity pattern in which an animal is neither pre-scriptively nocturnal, nor diurnal, nor crepuscular, but irregularly active at any time of night or day, according to prevailing circumstances”.

A Dictionary of Zoology © A Dictionary of Zoology 1999, originally published by Oxford University Press 1999.

  • This certainly seems to fit our flexible fluffers well. 
  • Due to their nature as prey animals it makes sense to partake in behavioural activities when it is safest to.
  • One would hope in a domesticated setting this translates as throughout the day and night. 
  • Anyone witnessing a new piggy family member initially partaking most of their activities in the night may be surprised to find as their shy little fluffer gets braver and more settled their behaviour similarly grows bolder and equalises between day and night.
  • The way the Guinea pig digestive systems works (requiring the foraging of hay and water throughout the day and night) must also contribute towards this periodical scheme of animation.

In conclusion the evidence in support of cathermerality seems (at least to me) to be solid.

A healthy and settled Guinea pig is pretty much happy to see their human at any time of the day or night. Especially if you happen to have food!

Squidgypigs - Are Guinea Pigs Cathermeral?
Squidgypigs – Are Guinea Pigs Cathermeral?

Do you agree with my conclusion? When are your piggies most active? Let me know below.


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