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Do Guinea Pigs Blink? Behavior, Anatomy & FAQ

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By Nicole Cosgrove

white crested guinea pig

Guinea pigs are known for their adorable and curious nature, but do they actually blink their eyes like humans or other animals? The truth is, guinea pigs do blink, but it’s not as noticeable as it is in other creatures. Their blinking is incredibly fast actually. So, let’s explore their blinking patterns and the reasons behind them.

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Do Guinea Pigs Blink?

Yes, guinea pigs do blink, but their blinking behavior is different from that of humans and many other animals. Guinea pig blinks are incredibly fast and often go unnoticed by the naked eye. Unlike humans, guinea pigs don’t have eyelashes to protect their eyes, so blinking serves as a way to keep their eyes moisturized and free from debris.

When guinea pigs blink, their eyelids close rapidly, almost like a quick flicker. This makes it challenging to observe their blinking behavior unless you’re paying close attention or using slow-motion video footage. Additionally, guinea pigs have a relatively short blink duration compared to humans, making it even more difficult to notice their blinks. Guinea pig blinks aren’t only essential for maintaining eye health but also serve other purposes related to their behavior and communication.

close up of a guinea pig
Image Credit: Miroslav Hlavko, Shutterstock

Understanding the Anatomy of a Guinea Pig’s Eyes

Before we can fully understand how guinea pigs blink, let’s take a closer look at the anatomy of their eyes. Guinea pigs have relatively large eyes compared to the size of their bodies, giving them excellent vision. Their eyes are positioned on the sides of their heads, providing them with a wide field of view. This gives them the ability to detect potential threats like predators from all different angles.

The guinea pig’s eye consists of several parts, including the cornea, iris, pupil, retina, lens, and eyelids. The cornea is the clear, outermost layer of the eye that helps protect it from debris and damage. The iris is the colored part of the eye that controls the size of the pupil, which is the black dot in the center. The lens focuses light onto the retina, which is responsible for transmitting visual signals to the brain. And lastly, the eyelids play a crucial role in blinking and keeping the eye moist and protected.

Guinea pigs have a unique feature called a “nictitating membrane,” also known as the third eyelid. This translucent membrane can partially cover the eye, providing additional protection. It becomes more visible when the guinea pig is ill or experiencing discomfort.

How Often Do Guinea Pigs Actually Blink?

So here are some really interesting facts. Guinea pigs don’t blink often and when they do, it’s super fast. And due to the rapid nature of their blinks, it’s easy to miss them if you’re not actively looking for them.

The blink rate of guinea pigs can vary depending on various factors, like level of alertness, environmental conditions, and overall health. When guinea pigs are in a relaxed state or feel safe in their environment, their blink rate tends to be lower. On the other hand, if they feel threatened or anxious, their blink rate may increase as a response to stress. It’s worth noting that the blink rate of guinea pigs can also be influenced by their age. Younger guinea pigs may blink more frequently than older ones. Additionally, the presence of eye irritation or infection can cause an increase in blink rate as the guinea pig tries to alleviate discomfort.

two lovely guinea pig babies together in summer
Image Credit: Rita_Kochmarjova, Shutterstock

The Purpose of Blinking in Guinea Pigs

Blinking serves multiple purposes for guinea pigs. Firstly, it helps to keep their eyes lubricated and moisturized. Guinea pigs don’t produce tears like humans do, so blinking helps distribute the natural moisture present in their eyes. This is crucial for preventing dryness and maintaining overall eye health.

Secondly, blinking plays a role in protecting guinea pigs’ eyes from foreign objects and potential damage. By rapidly closing their eyelids, guinea pigs can prevent debris, dust, or insects from entering their eyes. This is especially important for guinea pigs that live in outdoor environments where there may be more exposure to potential irritants. Blinking can also be a form of communication among guinea pigs. When one guinea pig blinks in the presence of another, it can signal a sense of trust and relaxation. This behavior is often observed when guinea pigs are in social groups or pairs. It’s their way of saying, “I feel safe and comfortable with you.”

Factors That May Affect a Guinea Pig’s Blinking Behavior

Several factors can influence a guinea pig’s blinking behavior. One of the primary factors is the guinea pig’s overall mood and level of comfort. When a guinea pig is feeling relaxed and content, their blink rate tends to be lower. On the other hand, if they’re feeling stressed, anxious, or agitated, their blink rate may increase.

Environmental conditions can also impact a guinea pig’s blinking behavior. Bright lights or sudden changes in lighting conditions may cause a guinea pig to blink more frequently as they adjust to the new surroundings. Similarly, exposure to irritants such as dust or strong odors can also trigger an increased blink rate as the guinea pig tries to protect its eyes.

Additionally, underlying health issues can affect a guinea pig’s blinking behavior. Eye infections, allergies, or injuries can lead to increased blinking or other abnormal eye behaviors. If you notice any changes in your guinea pig’s blinking pattern or any signs of eye discomfort, it’s essential to seek veterinary care.

hands holding guinea pig
Image Credit: Dmytro Vietrov, Shutterstock

Other Interesting Behaviors of Guinea Pigs

Despite their small size, guinea pigs exhibit a variety of interesting behaviors that can be both entertaining and endearing to observe.

Establishment of Hierarchies

One fascinating behavior of guinea pigs is their tendency to establish hierarchies within their social groups. When housed together, guinea pigs will often establish a social order based on dominance and submission. This can be observed through behaviors such as mounting, chasing, and even fighting. So it is important for pet owners to ensure that the hierarchy does not become too aggressive or result in injuries. Providing enough space and resources for each guinea pig can help prevent conflicts and promote a harmonious living environment.

They’re Really Curious

Guinea pigs are also known for their natural exploratory and curious nature. They’re constantly on the lookout for new things to investigate and discover. This behavior is often observed when introducing toys or new items into their enclosure. Guinea pigs will eagerly sniff, nibble, and play with these items, illustrating their innate curiosity. So, providing a stimulating environment with plenty of toys and hiding spots can help keep guinea pigs mentally stimulated and prevent boredom.


Yes, this is a thing with guinea pigs. This behavior involves sudden bursts of energy where the guinea pig jumps in the air while twisting its body – and it’s hilarious when you see it (check out YouTube videos on it). Popcorning is often associated with happiness and excitement, and it can be a delight to witness. It’s believed that female guinea pigs exhibit this behavior more frequently than males, possibly due to hormonal differences. Popcorning is a good indication that a guinea pig is content and enjoying its environment.

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Other FAQs About Guinea Pig Eyes

Can guinea pigs sleep with their eyes open?

Contrary to popular belief, guinea pigs actually cannot sleep with their eyes open. Like other small mammals, guinea pigs have a rather unique sleeping pattern. They typically sleep for short periods throughout the day, called power naps. During these naps, guinea pigs will close their eyes and rest. However, they can be easily awakened by any sudden noise or movement in their environment.

What should I do if I notice my guinea pig blinking excessively?

Excessive blinking in guinea pigs can be caused by various factors such as eye infections, allergies, foreign objects in the eye, or even dental problems. It’s important to closely observe your guinea pig’s behavior to see when it’s off, and then consult a vet if the excessive blinking persists or is accompanied by other signs such as redness, discharge, or swelling around the eyes.

veterinary doctor holding guinea pig on hands
Image Credit: Tatyana Vyc, Shutterstock

Do guinea pigs see well?

Guinea pigs have relatively good eyesight compared to other small animals. While they may not have the same level of visual acuity as humans, guinea pigs are able to see well enough to navigate their surroundings and locate food. Their eyes are positioned on the sides of their heads, allowing them to have a wide field of vision and detect movement from different angles. However, their vision is primarily focused on close-range objects, and they may have difficulty seeing things that are far away. Overall, guinea pigs rely more on their sense of smell and hearing to interact with their environment.

Do guinea pigs cry?

While guinea pigs do not cry like humans do, they do have their own ways of expressing distress or discomfort. When guinea pigs are feeling unhappy or in pain, they may emit high-pitched squeaks or make soft whining sounds. Also, guinea pigs may display physical signs of distress such as hunching their bodies, fluffing up their fur, or hiding away in their cages. These behaviors serve as their way of communicating their discomfort and seeking attention or assistance from their owners.

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Wrapping Things Up

While guinea pig blinks may not be as noticeable as those of other animals, they do blink. It plays a crucial role in maintaining eye health and communication. Their rapid blinking serves to keep their eyes moisturized and protect them from potential debris. So, the next time you see your guinea pig blink, remember the interesting facts behind this seemingly simple action.

Featured Image Credit: Bad_Bear_Pictures, Pixabay

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