Is My Guinea Pig Dead or Hibernating?: [Explained]

Guinea pigs are quite vocal and make for great pets. They are very entertaining and playful. And before you know you get attached to them.

But attachments with something or someone may hurt in the end. Especially when you have to say goodbye. When you see your guinea pig resting and still. You hope they are just hibernating.

And you might wonder, is my guinea pig dead or hibernating?

Sorry to break the bad news, guinea pigs do not hibernate. However, In colder temperatures, they may slow down their metabolism. This is known as torpor. And sadly if it’s dead, its eyes will dry up. Also if it has stopped eating or drinking before you see them still. Your piggy is probably gone.

Let me clarify this a little more. 

Hibernation Vs Torpor: What’s the difference?

Both of these techniques protect animals from the harmful effects of harsher and colder environments. But people get easily confused between them. And you can’t blame them because it’s tricky to tell the difference between hibernation and torpor.

So let us briefly see what the difference is.

Hibernation

Hibernation is a thing of warm-blooded animals. They hibernate when food resources are not enough. It happens especially in winter when food is limited and competition is more.

Hibernation is a way of preserving the body’s heat to perform metabolic functions without food. So during hibernation, an animal’s full body function just works fine. And hibernation would generally last longer.

So to hibernate they would just lower their body temperature to reduce energy usage. Also, their heart rate and breathing are slowed as well. So simply put animals do not eat during hibernation and rely on their saved food reserves. 

Torpor: [Deep Sleep]

Torpor is a survival technique during cold temperatures. When animals do not get the required warm temperature, they go into torpor to keep themselves alive. Often torpor duration is less than 24 hours.

But during torpor, they continue foraging. This means they would eat and then may go torpor again because they are feeling cold. Animals in torpor can be awakened when exposed to warmth.

Check out the quick differentiation table between hibernation and torpor.

Hibernation Torpor
State of regulated hypothermia in colder temperature to save energy Technique of survival in colder temperature for short term
No Feeding Continued Foraging
Metabolic Rate: 6% of the basal Metabolic Rate: 35% of the basal
Less than 24 hours For a Longer period
Bigger mass animals Lower mass small animals do torpor

Signs of Dead Guinea Pig

If your piggy is in torpor or deep sleep. You can get him awake by exposing it to a warm temperature.

To ensure if it’s in deep sleep or dead. Try poking it or making a loud noise and see their reflexes. They usually respond to touch as they are a very active species.  

Furthermore, try putting your hands underneath its belly, or picking it up. Nevertheless, if you try all that your pet doesn’t respond. There might be sad news for you.

Check out some observable signs if your guinea is dead.

  • Dried up eyes
  • Stiffness
  • No response when exposed to warm
  • No response when pick up or poked

You might wanna check the symptoms if your guinea pigs are about to die.

Symptoms of Dying Guinea Pig

If your guinea pet is about to die, he would show the following symptoms.

  • Won’t Eat
  • Won’t be active enough and would be dull in movement
  • Difficulty Breathing
  • Crusty Eyes
  • Diarrhea

There may still be some hope left. So whenever you notice these symptoms, rush to the vet. He might still save your buddy if his life is left.

How Do I Know if My Guinea Pig is in Torpor[Deep Sleep]?

Do not lack kindness and care for your cute little pet during a cold. They may decide to get help from their body heat by going into a deep sleep.

If there’s wind, snow, or rain and your piggy’s shelter is not equipped to keep him warm. That’s when they go into a deep sleep. They will simply just sort of pass out.

Besides proper protective shelter guinea pigs require temperature which is between 65°F (18°C) and 75°F (24°C). And if the temperature drops below 60, deep sleep is the way to keep them warm.

During torpor your piggy might seem sluggish and sort of dead. And if the temperature is too cold, your pet can get hypothermia. Not to mention they can even die.

So, you need to take great care of their environment. And you will notice right away when they are cold. Because they are active animals so when they are cold they will become a kind of slow.

They might even get pneumonia. 

How to Keep Guinea Pig Warm in Winter?: [Indoor & Outdoor]

Even if you keep your little sweet pet indoors-outdoors and near you. They still require you to take protective measures to keep them warm.

Let us see what are those things you can do to keep them warm.

  • Keep their cage away from windows or doors that frequently open and shut. 
  • Buy them a heating pad or use an electric heater but not too close.
  • Use multiple layers of absorbent bedding in their cage.
  • During colds keep their diet balanced and healthy with pellets, hay, vegetables, and fruit.
  • To keep them warm, set up an exercise area for them. Such as tunnels, cube toys, or chew toys.

Check out some things you can do to keep guinea pigs warm outside.

  • Get more than one guinea pig, so they cuddle to warm each other. 
  • Use insulated and predator-protected hutch.
  • Keep their hutch above the ground.
  • Keep their hutch dry. You may wanna use paper.
  • Use snuggly fleece bedding during winter. 
  • Make sure they have enough food and water which plays a great role during winter.
  • Use a self-heating pad but with caution. They can’t tolerate excessive heat. Because they don’t sweat.

That’s all from me.

FAQs

Do guinea pigs die randomly and suddenly?

We can’t say it randomly as there would be reasons involved in sudden death. They can die out of vitamin C deficiency as they require up to 30mg each day. Other reasons can play a part. Such as stress, solitude, environment, pneumonia, failed digestive system and dental issues, salmonella bacteria, and a heart attack.

What is a suitable temperature for guinea pigs?

Guinea pigs are not just sensitive to cold. Too much heat is equally disturbing for guinea pigs as they can experience a heat stroke. The comfortable temperature for guinea pigs is about 65°F to 75°F. Below 60 is too cold and above 75 is too warm for these little beings. 

How long does it take for a guinea pig to die?

It would take roughly 3 days for a guinea pig to die. During this time you should constantly monitor and take care of the poor thing. So that the process goes smoothly. Call a vet so he might still save your little fella. Feed him soft food and give him water with syringes. Be affectionate to him as much as possible.

Conclusions

You were wondering if my guinea pig is dead or hibernating? Now you know they don’t hibernate but go deep sleep when they get cold. So simply keep them at their comfortable temperature to keep them healthy. 

Now you also know what temperature is suitable for them. And how to keep them warm. So you are ready to keep your buddy healthy and safe.

Best of luck. That’s all.

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