Hamster vs Guinea Pig – Which to get?

Which one to get? Hamster vs Guinea Pig

If you are in the market for a small pet, we are sure your first thoughts will be which one of these should I get? So the fight between Hamster vs Guinea Pig starts.

Guinea Pig Vs. Hamster:

Are you thinking about getting a pocket pet? Have you decided whether you should bring hamsters or guinea pigs to your home? No? You are not alone. Many pet lovers get confused when it comes to choosing any one pet between the hamsters and the guinea pigs. Both of these small furry animals are cute and perfect for becoming the pocket pet of your dream. In fact, if you are new to being a pet owner, it is very difficult for you to differentiate between these two animals.

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Both the guinea pigs and the hamsters have been classified as rodents. But don’t let their tags fool you. These two furry animals are as different as an apple from a watermelon. Just because they belong to the same group does not mean that they are the same. You need to know about these two animals to reach the right decision.


So, if you are debating whether you should choose a hamster or a guinea pig, then have a look at the following part of this article. The information given below will help you to get a better understanding of the animals. It will also make sure that you choose the right one. Either way, the following guide will help you understand the differences between these two animals. It will also enable you to decide which one of these two is perfect for you.


Relationship between Hamsters and Guinea Pigs


As we have mentioned earlier, both of these animals belong to the order of Rodentia. That means both of these animals are rodents. However, the family of guinea pigs and the hamsters are not the same. The guinea pigs are the members of the Caviidae family. The hamsters, on the other hand, belong to the Cricetidae family. That means that even though these two animals are related, the relationship is fairly distant.


However, because of that connection, the teeth patterns of the hamsters and the guinea pigs are the same. Both of these animals come with two big incisors on both the top and the bottom jaw. Along with that, these animals have premolars and molars in their jaws for grinding down food particles. Unlike other mammals, the teeth of both these animals keep on growing. That’s why you need to choose the right forage to keep wearing their teeth down.


The Difference between Hamsters and Guinea Pigs


Even though there are some similarities between these two, the distinctions are more prevalent. Along with their sizes, the life span and the social habits of the animals are different as well. Here are some of the most notable distinctions between guinea pigs and hamsters that you should know.


  • Size


The size is the first and most blatant difference between the guinea pigs and the hamsters. The size of the guinea pigs varies along with various breeds. The guinea pigs can sometimes be even four times bigger than that of the hamsters. The weight of the guinea pig Is also significantly more than that of the hamsters. They weigh somewhere between one and a half pounds to around three pounds. Compared to that, hamsters only weigh about one to ten ounces.


  • Space


The guinea pigs are far less active than the hamsters. However, they do not require large cages for survival. However, you need to keep them indoors if you want them to stay healthy.


On the other hand, guinea pigs require a lot of space for foraging and playing. You can keep your guinea pigs indoors, but they also thrive in the outdoor hutch. Just make sure to keep a running mill for them inside the cage.


  • Varieties


There are many varieties of guinea pigs available in the market. You can choose anyone from the thirteen different breeds of guinea pigs as your pet.


Compared to this, the number of hamster breeds is higher than the guinea pigs. You can find twenty four different hamster varieties in nature. But, among them all, only five varieties are suitable to be kept as a pet. That means


  • Life Span


While getting a pet, you should keep the lifespan of the pet in mind. Losing a pet is never easy, no matter how long they live. Still, some of the smaller pets live longer. The lifespan of guinea pigs is around four to eight years. Compared to that, the hamsters live about one to three years. Before choosing between hamsters and guinea pigs, you must consider the lifespan of these two animals.


  • Sociability


It is one of the factors where the difference between the hamsters and the guinea pigs are huge. Guinea pigs, generally, are warm and friendly animals, and they crave socializing. Your guinea pig will thrive if you keep two or three of them in the same cage. The hamsters, on the other hand, do better when they are alone.


Another factor that you should consider is guinea pigs have the same sleeping patterns as humans. That means, throughout the whole day, the guinea pigs will stay awake active. Like their human companions, guinea pigs prefer to sleep during night time. The hamsters are, however, nocturnal animals. They will be asleep throughout the day, and when it is night, they will be super busy.


  • Noise Levels


Compared to the hamsters, guinea pigs can be considered chatterboxes. They will keep on vocalizing throughout the whole day. The hamsters, on the other hand, do not make as much noise. They, however, will keep on scurrying in the cage or continue spinning sessions in the wheel in the wee hours of the morning.


  • Temperament


As you may have guessed, the hamsters are not as friendly as the guinea pigs. They are temperamental and can bite or nip when you are handing them. Have young children? It is better to consider bringing a guinea pig as a pet.


Pros and Cons of Getting A Guinea Pig


Guinea pigs can seem like one of the most adorable and loving pets, but keeping one is not as easy as you think. Know the care needs of the guinea pigs before choosing them as your pet. There are some care needs of the guinea pigs that can demand a considerable amount of your time. So, check the following details and consider your schedule before buying a guinea pig.


Benefits of Getting a Pet Guinea Pig


  • One of the biggest advantages of owning a guinea pig is, it can befriend other animals. For example, if you have a pet rabbit, you can keep your pet guinea pig with it without any issues. These characteristics of guinea pigs allow you to enjoy the companionship of more than one pet.


  • Guinea pigs are not crepuscular animals. They maintain the same sleep pattern as the humans. That means your guinea pig will remain active when you are.


  • You can keep your pet guinea pig both indoors and outdoors. The guinea pigs thrive in the outdoor hutch with a spinning mill. You just need to consider the weather and bring your guinea pig indoors when it is necessary.


  • The sharp and protruding teeth of the guinea pigs create an image of the biter. However, the guinea pigs rarely, if ever, bite. Still, if, for some reason, the guinea pig becomes frightened, it can bite. These animals are generally known as good-natured, social pets.


Issues That You Need to Consider While Choosing A Guinea Pig


Consider how many guinea pigs you will be buying. If you choose to get only one guinea pig as a pet, understand that you need to interact with it daily. You also need to make sure that your guinea pig has enough enrichment before you leave the house.


Guinea pigs thrive on a nutritious daily diet. You need to offer your guinea pigs fresh vegetables, pellets and hay every day.

Compared to the hamsters, the guinea pigs suffer from allergy-related problems more. So, if you have an allergy, think twice before getting a guinea pig as your pet.


The cage size of the guinea pig is one of the essential factors that you need to consider. These animals love to live in pairs. So, while building the cage or buying one for your pet guinea pigs, make sure that there is enough space for two guinea pigs.


Guinea pigs are very messy animals. So, to keep the cage nice and clean. You have to change the cage bedding regularly. Make sure to give the cage-bedding a quick scrubbing once a week. You need to start a thorough cleaning process if you notice a stench of urine.


Groom the guinea pigs regularly to keep their coat healthy. Depending on the type of breed, the grooming type and frequency need to be changed.


Pros and Cons of Hamsters


Compared to the guinea pigs, caring for the hamsters are easier. However, the care needs of the hamsters can sometimes cramp your lifestyle. So, consider whether you will be able to offer all the necessary care to the hamster before getting one for yourself.


Benefits of Owning a Hamsters


  • The life span of the hamsters is less than the guinea pigs. That means it will demand less of your time than that of the guinea pigs.


  • Hamsters are nocturnal animals. So, they remain active during the night and the wee hours in the morning. That makes it easier for you to manage the hamsters if you have to go to work or school during the day.


  • The hamsters are not as noisy as the guinea pigs. Apart from the sound of their movement in the cage, they do not make much noise.


  • As these animals are smaller, they do not create as much mess as the guinea pigs. So, you only need to clean their cage twice a week to keep it clean.


Issues You Need to Consider While Choosing a Hamster


Even though the hamsters are very affectionate to their owners, they can be biters. You need to understand whether your hamster is willing to be handled if you want to avoid getting bitten.


While hamsters like to live alone, you can keep two hamsters in the same cage. However, consider the personality of the animal before doing so.


The diet of the hamsters is a lot more varied compared to the guinea pigs. You need to give your hamsters fresh pellets, vegetables, insects and hay to maintain a balanced diet.


The hamsters cannot live outdoors. Keep the animal inside of your house within a sturdy metal cage.


Even though children love the small hamsters as a pet, you should not permit them for handling one. Hamsters are delicate animals. If you do not handle them correctly, the hamsters can escape or get injured. Not only that, if handled incorrectly, the temperamental hamsters can bite.


Sometimes, the hamsters kick start some zoonotic diseases, like lymphocytic choriomeningitis and salmonella. That is why if you have immune deficiency, you should not get a hamster as a pet.


Questions You Need to Ask Yourself Before Making a Decision Between the Hamster and a Guinea Pig.


Guinea pigs are small animals, and the hamsters are even smaller, but that does not mean they require any less attention and care. So, before bringing one of these two pets, you need to ask yourself a couple of crucial questions first. Make sure you answer these questions correctly before finally deciding which one of these two are the right fit for you.


Think About the Space


Even though both the animals are small in size, the guinea pigs require a much bigger cage than the hamsters. That means if you do not have much space in your home, it is better to bring a hamster. As the hamsters are solitary animals, you can get only one hamster for yourself. If you decide to get more than one hamster, you should arrange separate cages for them.


You can keep the guinea pigs inside of your house, but you need to consider the cage size, as well as the placement of the cage, seriously. Hamsters can keep the wheel spinning for hours. Unlike them, the guinea pigs require space for movement and foraging. Also, be careful not to buy hamster cages for your guinea pigs. Their bodies are not built for the hamster wheels, and spinning them can cause damage to its spine. As the guinea pigs crave socializing, you need to keep two or more of these animals in the same cage. That means you will need to arrange for a bigger cage.


Serious Commitment


We have talked about this issue earlier. Even though it sounds a bit morbid, the short lifespan of the hamsters can benefit you. With every breed the lifespan of the guinea pigs vary. The hamsters live about three years. However, the lifespan of guinea pigs is somewhere between six to eight years. That means by choosing a Hamster vs Guinea Pig as a pet, you will be signing up for a bigger commitment.


The Issue of Cuddling


Cuddling is one of the factors that you must consider in this guinea pig vs hamster debate. Are you one of the cuddlers? Do you want your pet to communicate with you? Then, perhaps, a guinea pig is the ideal pet for you/. The guinea pigs are not as fragile as the hamsters and do not mind a bit of cuddling. They also love the attention and the love humans shower on them.


Compared to the guinea pigs, the hamsters do not love being cuddled. They are much more temperamental than the guinea pigs as well. As these animals are fragile, you should not allow young children to handle them. Saying that, the more you handle the hamsters when they are babies, the happier they become when cuddled as adults.


Are You Nocturnal?


This question might seem a bit silly when comparing Hamster vs Guinea Pig, but you need to answer it before choosing between the small pocket poets. Like humans, the guinea pigs are diurnal. That means they stay active during the day and rest at night.


Contrary to that, the hamsters are nocturnal animals and prefer to be alone when everyone is asleep. If you wake these animals up during the night for playing, they can become positively grumpy and can even bite. If you want your affection to be returned, then a guinea pig is the best choice for you.


How Much Time Should You Spend?


If you want to adopt pets, know that you have to give them quality time. Even though the hamsters are solitary animals and do not like cuddles, they still require 15-20 minutes of undivided attention from their humans. On the other hand, guinea pigs require a lot of interactions and affections for their owners. If you do not give them attention, they will let you know their displeasure with loud vocalization.


Hamsters or guinea pigs, which of these two will you choose depends entirely on your personal preferences. Both of these animals require love and affection. If you cannot decide whether you should go team guinea pig or team hamster, you can get both. As long as you have space and the time to take care of both, you can all be a big and happy family.