Guinea pigs are believed to be one of the world’s oldest domesticated animals which goes back to 5000 BC. Though their name, guinea pig, originated from Guinea, a country in West Africa, they are native to South America, especially the Andes mountains. Guinea pigs were domesticated as livestock and are still consumed in some parts of the world. These animals are now widely used for medical research and as domestic pets.
These animals are famous as those who don’t have eyelids as it is very rare to see a guinea pig with closed eyes. Even when they sleep, they have their eyes opened. This article explores the question, “Do Guinea Pigs have eyelids?”
Do Guinea Pigs Have Eyelids?
Yes, Guinea pigs do have eyelids, and they also have an advanced oculomotor system. This system helps them to control their eye movements completely.
The reason for them to sleep with their eyes open and not even blinking is exciting and connected with their survival.
Guinea pigs are prey animals in the wild. They were at the bottom of the food chain with no fighting chance with their predators. Their only weapon was to stay as alert as possible, escape danger at a moment’s notice, and avoid becoming the next meal of a predator.
The evolution gift for the guinea pig’s survival has been staying alert by sleeping with eyes opened and blinking when necessary.
Do Guinea Pigs Have Visible Eyelids?
The Guinea pigs do have visible eyelids. Not seeing them is because they do not blink or sleep with their eyes closed. Sleeping with open eyes and not blinking is a part of their defense mechanism, as they must see their predators as soon as possible.
These animals are small and not tough enough to fight with their predators or outrun them. Their best chance of survival is to be vigilant even without blinking and sleeping with their eyes open.
The other reason for sleeping with eyes opened is that a predator will pause before attacking an awake animal.
The guinea pigs have excellent hearing and smelling capabilities, and a moment of pause from the predator will be enough for the guinea pig to get to safety.
How Do Guinea Pigs Protect Their Eyes Without Eyelids?
As explained earlier, guinea pigs do have eyelids. They have an upper and a lower eyelid, which blinks very fast. These eyelids protect the guinea pig’s eyes from dust and debris. And they help to keep their eyes moist and lubricated.
Unlike humans, who blink every 3 -5 seconds, a guinea pig flashes only around 2 to 5 times every 20 minutes. They control their eye winking and are capable of blinking a single eye.
The upper eyelid of a guinea pig is the primary safety barrier against dust and debris. The upper eyelid moves downwards and the lower eyelid moves upwards. Though blinking is rarely done when compared to humans, this movement is enough to keep the guinea pig’s eyes moist.
A guinea pig is an animal with good reflexes and can close its eyes or move away when there is a danger to the eye.
How Often Do Guinea Pigs Blink and Why?
Guinea pig blinks 2 to 5 times every 20 minutes to keep their eyes wet and lubricated. This helps them to keep dust debris away from the eye. Though the Guinea pigs do not blink as often as humans, that does not mean they are incapable of blinking.
The guinea pigs are in total control of their eye movements and blinking than the humans as they have an advanced oculomotor system.
The Guinea pigs are capable of taking care of their eyes, and as explained earlier, they have good reflexes and can close their eyes or move away when there is a danger to the eye.
Guinea pigs have evolved to blink as little as possible and are in total control of their eye movements and flashing.
They have this capability for their safety from predators. These creatures constantly fear being prey, and a single blink could endanger their survival.
How Do Eyelids Contribute to a Guinea Pig’s Vision?
Though the guinea pigs blink at a much lower frequency than humans, they do blink enough to keep their eyes safe. Eyelids safeguard the eyes, and by that, they contribute to the guinea pig’s vision.
Eyelids protect the eyes from dust and other objects, help to spread tears to keep the eyes clean, moist, and from drying out, reduce the light that enters the eyes, and keep the eyes clean and free of infections.
Though the guinea pigs have two eyelids, they are not visible, especially when the guinea pig is awake. The problem is that they blink rarely, and it is swift, and most of the time, they keep their eyes open even when asleep.
Though the eyelids are not noticeable, the guinea pigs have eyelids that contribute enough to safety and vision.
How Can Owners Ensure Good Eye Health for Their Guinea Pigs?
The guinea pigs have large eyes compared to their body size and are not colorblind. Though their eyesight is not very sharp, they have a visual field of around 340 degrees but have a blind spot directly in front of their noses.
The guinea pigs do not have perfect night vision but can see well with limited light. Guinea pigs’ eyesight has evolved according to their surroundings, and they have some common eye conditions.
The most common is the foreign bodies in the eyes, usually plant materials. These materials can cause irritation, infections, and corneal wounds.
Eye infections are also common among Guinea pigs. Pink eye is a common condition in guinea pigs, usually caused by diseases or vitamin C deficiency. Guinea pigs like sunlight, but excessive direct or heat is not recommended.
Veterinarians advice to seek medical help when a guinea pig has excessive blinking, eye discharge, redness, swelling, or any signs of eye discomfort
Do Guinea Pigs Sleep with Their Eyes Open?
Yes, the guinea pigs sleep with their eyes opened. They do it as a defense mechanism to protect themselves from predators. The guinea pigs are very fragile creatures who constantly fear predators.
Their defense mechanism is to be vigilant without blinking and sleeping with open eyes. Sleeping with eyes opened is because a predator will pause before attacking an awake animal.
The smelling and hearing capabilities are excellent with guinea pigs and have good reflections. A moment of pause from the predator will be enough for the guinea pig to get to safety.
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