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As a guinea pig owner, you have probably seen your furry friend do a lot of things that may range from outright silly to brilliant. However, chances are you may have never seen it blink or close its eyelids. This may lead you to ask yourself, do guinea pigs have eyelids?
Do Guinea Pigs Have Eyelids?
Yes, guinea pigs have eyelids. However, the chances of seeing them are few as their eyes are open most of the time, including when asleep. Your chance of seeing them is when they blink to remove dust and debris in their eyes or when they have an irritation in their eyes.
With their position in the food chain, guinea pigs have many predators and poor eyesight. This combination does not work in their favor, and a lot of blinking can be the thin line between life and death. They do it when necessary and very fast, faster than rabbits and humans.
How Guinea Pig Eyelids Work
Like most rodents, the oculomotor system of the guinea pig is one of the most advanced when it comes to mammals. This system:
- Regulates blinking
- Determines how the eyes move
- Regulates blinking to “manual” or “autopilot”
This system allows guinea pigs to keep their eyes open for hours without blinking, especially if they feel or are in danger. Your domesticated guinea pig may start blinking more often than wild guinea pigs because it feels safe and relaxed. This, however, is different for every guinea pig.
What You Need to Know About Guinea Pigs Eyes
As a guinea pig owner, or someone looking to own one, you need to be aware of various aspects of guinea pigs’ eyes. This will prevent you from having unnecessary panic, and it will help you become informed.
Guinea Pigs Vision
The range of vision of a guinea pig is 340 degrees. As mentioned earlier, they cannot see very well, and the problematic depth perception does not help. On top of that, they are shortsighted and cannot see further than approximately one meter from where they are.
Being where they are in the food chain, they have to rely on sound movements and smell to get away from predators and danger. Their good memory also comes in handy at these times. Guinea pigs see colors and the whole length of their bodies, allowing them to be aware of their environment.
As much as guinea pigs do not blink a lot, you may notice yours doing it more than usual. The possible explanations to this are:
- Dust and debris have gotten into the eyes. This is most probably from the food they are eating. Their eyes are close to the ground, so when they are eating, chances are it might get into their eyes. Blinking rapidly is an attempt at removing it from their eyes.
- Eye infection or irritations. Look out for redness, inflammation or tearing.
If you notice it has irritation, infection, and is displaying any of the mentioned signs, the best option would be to take it to the Vet. An expert will determine whether it is just irritation or it is something serious.
Guinea Pigs That Close Their Eyes When They Sleep
It is more common for guinea pigs to sleep with their eyes open than closed. When this happens, it does not mean they are sick, or something is wrong; it means they feel safe around you and they trust you.
It is essential to remember that it is in their genetics to sleep with their eyes open, so if yours never closes its eyes when it sleeps, it does not say anything negative about you or your ability to make it trust you.
Other questions you may have regarding your guinea pig and their eyes are answered below.
Guinea pigs do not blink when they are startled, which is very different from human beings. Guinea pigs have feelings and they will have their eyes open in the face of danger or any threats. Do not startle your guinea pig on purpose, as it may start perceiving you as a threat.
Yes, guinea pigs are able to blink with one eye while keeping the wide open. Their oculomotor system is advanced to allow this. Even if something enters one eye, they will keep the unaffected one open. If you notice blinking both eyes for a long time, something may be wrong.
Due to their blinking habits, it is normal for you as a pet owner to wonder if your guinea pig has eyelids. Every day you will learn something about your guinea pig that explains why it behaves the way it does. It will help you bond with your pet.