Can guinea pigs see in the dark?
How well can they really see at all?
Find out all about guinea pig vision in our guide!
Guinea pigs are fun, friendly, and relatively low-maintenance pets.
This makes them a popular choice among many.
They also have very unique eyes that stay open almost all the time, even while sleeping.
Some people wonder about guinea pig’s vision, so we set out to explore how guinea pigs see the world around them.
Guinea Pig Vision
Guinea pigs are prey animals, meaning in the wild they always have to be on the lookout for predators.
This led to their unique eyesight and facial structure.
Guinea pigs can see their surroundings without moving their eyes.
They have an estimated 340 degrees of vision, and they are able to observe almost everything going on around them.
This trait served them well in the wild, as it allowed them to keep an eye out for predators at all times.
For that same reason, guineas keep their eyes open nearly all the time – even while they are sleeping.
Can Guinea Pigs See in the Dark?
There is some speculation that guinea pigs can see in the dark, but this is not strictly true.
Guinea pigs are considered part of the rodent family, although this is the subject of some debate.
Many rodents are active at night, leading some to believe that rodents like rats, mice, and guinea pigs can see in the dark.
Some rodents do have limited vision at night.
Guinea pigs may fall into this category.
The more likely explanation, however, is that guineas and other rodents use a combination of senses to move about at night.
Guineas have a good sense of smell and hearing, both of which can be used to navigate in the dark.
They also have whiskers, which can be used to help navigate in the dark. Studies have shown that rats rely heavily on their whiskers to help with navigation.
So can guinea pigs see in the dark?
We don’t know for sure.
It’s likely that they have very limited vision at night, which they use in combination with their whiskers and other senses.
How Well Can Guinea Pigs See?
Guinea pigs have fairly limited eyesight.
While they have a wide range of vision, they can’t see very far or in very good detail.
This poor eyesight is mostly due to difficulty with depth perception.
Guineas rely partially on memory to help them get around.
In the wild, they are excellent at remembering the location of tunnels and food sources.
In the home, guineas may use memory to guide them around furniture and other obstacles.
How Far Can Guinea Pigs See?
It can vary depending on the type of guinea and their health, but some estimates put the number at about 3–5 feet.
We don’t know for certain.
Can Guinea Pigs See Color?
Yes, guinea pigs can see color. They have dichromatic color vision, according to this 1994 study.
This basically means that they can see colors, but likely not as well as the average human.
What colors can guinea pigs see?
The answer to that is not so straightforward.
The evidence we have to support which colors guineas can see is limited.
One study confirmed that guinea pigs have green color sensitivity, meaning they can definitely see green.
Some anecdotal claims have stated that guineas can’t see red, but there is no clinical evidence to support this.
It’s likely that guinea pigs can see most colors that humans can, but we don’t yet have definitive evidence.
How Do Guinea Pigs See Food?
Due to the shape of their face, guinea pigs may be unable to see directly in front of or underneath their noses.
Thus, they may not be able to see food while they are eating it.
Instead, they likely use a combination of smell and touch to locate their food.
To sum things up, guinea pigs have decent vision, can see in full color, and have a very wide range of vision around them (except for right under their nose!)
They don’t have the best vision in terms of seeing long distances, but then again they have no need to do so in the modern age.
They can’t really see in the dark, but they are active nocturnally nonetheless and likely use a combination of limited vision, smell, hearing, and their whiskers to navigate in low-light environments.
What did you find most interesting about this article? Let us know in the comments!
Jacobs, G., Deegan, J., Spectral sensitivity, photopigments, and color vision in the guinea pig (Cavia porcellus). Behavioral Neuroscience, 1984.
Guinea Pigs — A Complete Pet Owner’s Manual by Horst Bielfeld (1977) 1983 Barrons
Arkley, K., Grant, R., Mitchinson, B., Prescott, T. Strategy Change in Vibrissal Active Sensing during Rat Locomotion. Current Biology. 2014.
Williams, D., Sullivan, A., Ocular disease in the guinea pig (Cavia porcellus): a survey of 1000 animals. Veterinary Ophthalmology. 2010.