Guinea Pig vs Hamster: Which Should You Bring Home?

by Hamster Care

Guinea pigs and hamsters are two obvious choices for a small, furry pet that doesn’t take up much space. Each has advantages and disadvantages depending on your specific needs and available time to care for your small pet. Although both can make excellent pets, it is important to select the one that is best for you and your family.

Guinea pig vs Hamster: A comparison chart

Guinea PigHamster
Ease of CareRequires cage cleaning several times a weekRequires cage cleaning once or twice a week
Size2 to 4 pounds.8 to 3.5 ounces
Noise levelMakes various squeaking and whistling soundsVery little, if any, noise
Lifespan5 to 8 years2 to 3 years
SociabilityCan live with other Guinea pigs and other animalsHamsters are mostly solitary and often need to be housed alone
HandlingEasier to handle and generally gentleCan bite and more fragile to hold
SpaceNeed a larger cage to be happy and can live indoors or outdoors if weather permitsCan live in a smaller cage but must live indoors
VarietyThere are 21 breeds to choose fromOnly 5 breeds of hamsters can be pets (out of 24)

Pros and cons of guinea pigs

Guinea pigs are adorable pets, but keeping one isn’t as simple as it appears. They do have some care requirements that, depending on your schedule, may be an issue for you.

  • Benefits of owning a guinea pig:
    • Guinea pigs get along well with other animals, so you could keep one with a rabbit, for example, to add some variety to your pet collection.
    • Guinea pigs are active when you are because they are not crepuscular like hamsters.
    • Guinea pigs can be kept indoors or outdoors, depending on the climate.
    • Guinea pigs can bite when scared, but they rarely, if ever, do so. They are well-known for being social and friendly pets.
  • Issues to consider when choosing a guinea pig:
    • If you decide to keep only one, you must interact with it on a daily basis and provide it with plenty of enrichment while you are away.
    • Guinea pigs require a daily diet of pellets, fresh vegetables, and hay.
    • Guinea pig fur allergies are more common than hamster fur allergies, so they may not be a good choice if you have allergies.
    • They work best in pairs, so you’ll need to make room for a hutch large enough to accommodate two comfortably.
    • Guinea pigs are notoriously messy, so plan on giving their cage bedding daily quick cleanings and a good scrubbing once a week. If you notice a urine odor, you may need to do more thorough cleanings more frequently.
    • Depending on the breed, you may need to groom them on a regular basis to keep their coats in good condition.

Pros and cons of hamsters

Hamsters are an excellent pet for children because they are easy to care for, but adults should always supervise their care. Hamster care requirements, like those of guinea pigs, may or may not be compatible with your lifestyle.

  • Benefits of owning a hamster:
    • Hamsters don’t live as long as Guinea pigs (2 to 3 years compared to 10 to 11 years) so they are not as much of a long-term responsibility. This can be good or bad depending on your situation!
    • Hamsters are most active in the early morning and late at night, so they’re a good choice if you’re at work or school during the day.
    • Other than the sounds of them moving around their cage, hamsters are usually very quiet.
    • Because hamsters are smaller, they don’t make as much of a mess in their cages as guinea pigs, so you should expect to clean their cage about twice a week.
  • Issues to consider when choosing a hamster:
    • Hamsters can be extremely affectionate toward their owners, but they can also bite. They need daily interaction to stay calm and willing to be handled.
    • You can keep more than one hamster in a cage, but hamsters rarely get along. Depending on their personality, you may only be able to keep one.
    • Hamsters are omnivores, and their diet is more varied than that of guinea pigs, which can include pellets, fresh vegetables, hay, and insects.
    • Hamsters should be kept indoors in a safe metal cage.
    • Although hamsters are popular among children, they may not be the best choice for small children because they are delicate and must be handled correctly to avoid injury or escape.
    • It is illegal to keep a hamster as a pet in Hawaii.
    • Because hamsters can transmit zoonotic diseases like salmonella and lymphocytic choriomeningitis, they should not be kept in homes with people who have weak immune systems.

Choosing guinea pigs vs hamsters

Ultimately, which pet you choose is a matter of personal preference, and while their care requirements vary, they also share many similarities. While both pets are popular with children, an adult must supervise their regular care, especially with younger children. The age of the children and their ability to properly handle animals is also an important consideration, as hamsters aren’t the best choice for very young children unless handled by an adult.

If you want more helpful advice on looking after your hamster, including tips on food, toys, accessories and accommodation, add a comment below to let us know!

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By HamsterCareTip.Com

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