Guinea pigs sleep with their eyes open and rarely blink. This odd behavior leads most people to assume that guinea pigs don’t blink at all, however, this is not the case. This article will discuss the frequency of guinea pig blinking as well as why guinea pigs don’t blink as often.
So, Do Guinea Pigs Blink?
Yes, guinea pigs blink. However, they do not blink as frequently as humans. In dry or dusty environments, they are likely to blink more often.
How Often Do Guinea Pigs Blink?
Guinea pigs don’t blink often and even sleep with their eyes open. In the wild, they rarely blink because as prey animals they need to constantly be on the lookout for predators.
As a household pet, some guinea pigs may blink a little more as they become comfortable with their surroundings, however they still will never blink as often as humans.
When guinea pigs so blink, they do so to lubricate their eyes and protect against dirt and dust. They also blink when their eyes are irritated, such as when dealing with an eye infection or a dry environment.
Why Do Guinea Pigs Rarely Blink?
As briefly stated above, guinea pigs blink so infrequently because in the wild they are dinner for many larger animals. Guinea pigs are common prey, thus, to avoid being eaten, they must rely on their ability to detect predators quickly.
Additionally, guinea pigs don’t have the best eyesight, so blinking a lot in combination with not being able to see well, would increase their likelihood of being eaten because it would take them longer to see the danger approaching.
A guinea pig’s eyes are made especially for them to be able to have more control over their blinking. Their oculomotor system allows them to move their eyelids independently, sleep with their eyes open, and blink only one eye at a time instead of both.
Guinea pigs will very occasionally blink when they sleep because debris or other foreign objects get into their eyes. However, guinea pigs don’t sleep for longer bursts like other animals.
The average guinea pig sleeps about five hours per day in short 10-minute periods. As with keeping their eyes open, sleeping in short bursts also helps them keep an eye out for danger.
Why Does it Mean When a Guinea Pig Blinks Frequently?
If your guinea pig is blinking frequently, you want to make sure nothing is wrong. There could be dirt stuck in their eyes, or sometimes guineas will blink more when the air is too dry.
Guinea pigs also tend to blink frequently when suffering from eye infections. Some of the signs of an eye infection include:
- Frequent blinking
- Constant scratching at the eyes
- Inflammation around the eyes
- A discharge from the eyes
- Constant tearing or watering
- Swelling or redness around the eyes
If you detect any of these signs, do not hesitate to schedule an appointment with a veterinarian immediately to get your pet treated.
Eye infections are typically treated with antifungal or antibacterial medications. For a mild case, you may simply need to administer eye drops each day until the problem clears.
To reduce the risk of eye infections, maintain a clean habitat for your guinea pigs. Maintaining a clean environment reduces the risk of bacterial or fungal infections.
Frequent blinking can also be caused by an injury, such as a scratch from another guinea pig. If you have more than one guinea pig, examine their eyes sometimes for scratches. Scratches on the eye can also increase the risk of infection.
Along with dirt, scratches, and eye infections, guinea pigs may blink more frequently when they feel safe and comfortable. The threat from predators is the main reason why guinea pigs developed the ability to rarely blink.
The comfort that a loving home provides allows your guinea pig to relax, which limits the need to keep their eyes open continuously. They may even start to enjoy being held, listening to calming music, and engaging with you on a daily basis.
Although guinea pigs do blink, they don’t usually blink often. Guinea pigs mostly blink when necessary to remove dirt or debris and lubricate their eyes.
Guinea pigs have relatively poor eyesight and a 340-degree range of vision, so they need to keep their eyes open to remain alert and on the lookout for predators. Guinea pigs evolved to sleep with their eyes open and rarely blink to be able to survive in the wild.
If you see your guinea pig blinking frequently, check the humidity in the air. You may also want to inspect the pet’s eyes for signs of infection.