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Guinea Pig vs. Hamster: Should I Get a Guinea Pig or Hamster?

Guinea Pig vs. Hamster: Should I Get a Guinea Pig or Hamster?

So you wanted to get yourself a pet but are unable to choose between a hamster or a guinea pig? Choosing the right pet for yourself or your family can be a tough decision. I have gone through the tough decision, and So today I have decided to help you out in choosing one. In this article, we shall compare guinea pig vs. hamster head to head with 32 factors to consider to find out which one suits your lifestyle the best.

Both hamster and guinea pigs make a great place but if you have limited space, tight budget and you want a solitary pet then go for a hamster. However, if you can afford a large cage, regular maintenance and want a pair or more then go for guinea pigs. Both have their pros and cons, although both make for an excellent pet.

There are a lot of factors that you need to look for before getting a pet for yourself. First of all, I would request you to keep at least five major factors in your mind, which is crucial for you. This will help you choose the right pet in no time.

Even if you are unsure about the factors, I can help you choose the right one. Just hold on with me until the end, and I shall ensure you are clear with the thought of the perfect pet for yourself.

Guinea pig or Hamster: Which is a better pet for you?

So, let us begin by checking the difference between guinea pigs and hamsters. We shall compare them based on various important factors that most to be pet owners consider while choosing a pet for themselves.

FactorsGuinea PigHamster
OriginThe domestication of guinea pigs happened around 2000 BC. They used to live in Andes mountain then and were first brought home for food. Soon they became popular as pets all around the world.The hamster was first discovered in Syria. They used to live in warm, dry sand dune areas out there. They first appeared in the United States in 1936, and soon they became popular pets all around.
Species familyGuinea pigs belong to Class Mammalia, Order Rodent and Family Caviidae.Hamsters belong to Class Mammalia, Order Rodent and Family Cricetidae.
SizeGuinea pig usually grows up to 8-10 inches in length. While some grow a little longer, others remain a little short depending upon the breed.Hamster is available at a wide range of sizes. While the European breed can grow up to 13-14 inches, the golden hamster breed grows up to 6 inches, and the dwarf hamster can grow up to 2-4 inches.
WeightThe weight of an adult guinea pig can be anywhere between 800-1200 grams depending upon the breed and gender.The weight of an adult hamster is anywhere between 25-60 grams depending upon the breed.
LifespanThe average lifespan of a guinea pig can be anywhere between 4-8 years. However, it totally depends upon the breed, care, and a lot of other factors. The oldest guinea pig has lived for 14 years and 10.5 months as per Guinness Book of World Records.The average lifespan of a hamster is anywhere between 2-3 years. It is dependent upon the breed, and care you give them. The oldest living hamster lived for approximately 4.5 years.
Herbivore or Omnivore(Classification)Guinea pigs are herbivores, and they need a diet that contains hay, fresh vegetables, and fruits in it. If your guinea pigs are reluctant to eat veggies, then you can also serve them commercially prepared pellets.Hamsters are an omnivore, that means they need both plants and animals(insects) to feed on. However, you can serve commercially prepared food which contains protein from insects, shrimps, etc.
Variety(breed)There are 13 breeds of guinea pigs available out there which are recognized by the American Cavy Breeders Association.There are 18 main species of hamster. Although there is more variety available which is the result of breeding different coat types; officially they have been categorized into 18 species only.
Nocturnal?No, guinea pigs are not nocturnal. They are crepuscular in nature. That means they remain active both day and night. They usually speed in small laps of few minutes throughout day and night.Yes, hamsters are nocturnal. Thus they will remain active throughout the night time and sleep during the day time.
HypoallergenicGuinea pigs are not hypoallergenic. In fact, any warm-blooded animal with fur, hair, or feather cannot be hypoallergenic at all. Many people claim that the hairless breed(skinny pig) is hypoallergenic, but that is not true at all.Hamster is also not hypoallergenic. Although they don't need floor time and can live in a cage for most of its life, thus chances of the allergens spreading throughout the house are quite low.
Noise levelGuinea pigs are not so loud, especially at night. Although they do make some noises, but those are not so high pitched to disturb you. Considering you have provided them with food and water before bedtime, they should remain quite calm.Hamster is mostly only active during the night, which means they can get noisy sometimes. The wheels they use can produce a lot of noise even they can get vocal sometimes. So. be aware of the fact.
SocialGuinea pigs are social animals and will thrive in a group of two or more. Keeping a single guinea pig is challenging as they can get depressed and bored due to a lack of social interaction so, if you are planning to get guinea pigs, you better be ready for at least a pair.Hamster is social, but they prefer to live alone most of the time. Considering you provide them with lots of toys and all their basic needs they will live alone happily.
OffspringGuinea pigs are matured at just three weeks and can give birth to 1-8 pups in a litter. The average litter size is between 2-4. They can give birth up to 5 litter every year.Hamster is matured once they are ten weeks old. They can give birth up to 6-8 pups in a litter.
IntelligenceGuinea pigs are really intelligent. In fact, their memory is so sharp that they remember food sources, hidings, and even their homes in the wild. This helps them aid their poor vision. They are also smart enough to recognize their owners.Hamsters are smart but not as sharp as guinea pigs are. They can learn to recognize their owners and some sounds, but that's it.
CleanlinessGuinea pigs are clean animals, but they do create a mess around their cage. You will need to spot clean the cage every day and change bedding once a week so that debris doesn't build up. And you must also consider the fact that guinea pigs are like poop machines, they will poop like every hour so keeping up with cleanliness is a must with them.Hamster remains quite clean, and they don't crease as much mess as guinea pigs do. You can get away by cleaning the cage once a week if you have a hamster. However, if you house multiple, then you might need to be more frequent with cleaning.
BiteGuinea pigs don't usually bite until and unless they have a strong reason to do so. However, young guinea pigs are curious and can nibble your hand to check what it is but won't bite you hard.Hamster has a higher chance of biting you as compared to guinea pigs. Hamster can bite you hard if they feel threatened or you suddenly startle a sleeping hamster.
SmellGuinea pigs like to keep themselves clean, and there is only a slight possibility that you will find them smelling. Male guinea pigs do have a grease gland that produces a particular smell sometimes and needs cleaning. Apart from that, they don't smell much. However, if you don't keep up with their cage maintenance, then it might start smelling bad soon.Hamster's usually don't smell bad unless they are suffering from some sort of disease. However, if their cage is not cleaned every week, then it might smell bad.
CuddlyGuinea pigs are one of the most cuddly small animals on the planet. They love to cuddle and being petted by their owners.Hamster is somewhat cuddly. It does like being petted but doesn't enjoy being handled a lot.
PersonalityGuinea pigs are an active, social, outgoing, and friendly creature. They love to play around and live in a group of two or more.Hamster is a solitary animal with a docile personality. They are not so active as guinea pigs and can get aggressive sometimes.
Ease of careGuinea pigs don't have any particular need, but they do need a clean environment to live in. You might need to clean your guinea pigs cage every day so that it doesn't smell.Hamster is omnivores, and they do need a specially formulated food for them. However, they don't need as frequent maintenance as guinea pigs do.
TamingTaming a guinea pig is much easier than other small animals. They are quite friendly and docile and can learn quite a few tricks. Thus, training them can be fruitful.Hamsters are a little aggressive when you first get them. They also like to live alone so taming them can be a challenge.
Child friendlyGuinea pigs are friendly and docile, which makes them a perfect pet for your children.Hamsters are a little aggressive but can be the right pet for school-aged children.
SpaceGuinea pigs require a relatively large space to live in. A pair of guinea pigs need at least eight sq. Feet of space so that they eat, play, and sleep around.Hamsters don't need such an ample space as guinea pigs do. A solitary hamster can live happily in a cage of two sq. Feet. However, if you can get a larger pen, then it would be even better.
EnclosureGuinea pigs need a reasonably large cage with good quality bedding, toys, water bottles, food bowls, and enough hiding spaces. They can either live in an open-top cage or even in an enclosed pen.Hamsters need a close top cage with bedding to burrow, food, water and some toys including a wheel.
Keeping Indoors or OutdoorsGuinea pigs can be kept outside considering you provide them with a well-insulated hutch and all other living requirements.Hamsters have a hard time living outside. It would be quite severe for them to survive the temperature change outside.
Grooming needsWhile short-haired guinea pigs don't require much grooming at all, the long hair guinea pig breed needs daily brushing to keep their coat in perfect shape. Regular nail trimming, grease gland cleaning are some of the regular grooming needs you need to take care of with all guinea pigs.Hamsters don't need much grooming at all. Most hamsters keep themselves groomed; however, some long-haired hamsters might need brushing once a week. Apart from that, they might need nail trimming sometimes, but in most cases, they won't. So there is not much you need to do if you have one.
SheddingGuinea pigs are light to medium shedder. They tend to shed a little more during spring and early summer. But most of the time, the shedding is quite limited.Hamsters shed quite a lot as compared to guinea pigs. During summer and spring, you will notice their coat goes thin, and this is quite common in most hamsters breed.
FeedingGuinea pig's diet mostly consists of hay, fresh vegetables and fruits, and some pellets and treats. While their staple portion of food is hay, they do need a cup of raw veggies daily to keep up with the nutritional need of their bodies.Hamster is an omnivore and needs both plants and animals to eat. They need fruits, nuts, seeds, grain, etc. While in the wild they prey on small insects, frogs, lizards, etc. in captivity they need a specially formulated diet containing traces of those.
Vet costVet visits once a year is recommended for most guinea pigs. Guinea pigs can hide illness pretty well, so going for an annual visit is a must. The cost of a vet can range anywhere above 50$ depending upon the location you live. Also, remember that not all vets are qualified to treat guinea pigs as they need an exotic vet for treatment.Hamsters also need an annual vet visit. The cost of a vet can range anywhere between 35$, and above depending upon your location and treatment, you are going for.
Cost to buyThe cost to buy a guinea pig is anywhere between 10-40$ while the average price being around 25$. You can either buy it from a pet store, rescue center, or a breeder.The cost of buying a hamster is anywhere between 12-25$. The average price for buying one is around 20$. They are mostly available in pet stores and with breeders.
Cost to keep upThe initial setup for a pair of guinea pigs can be around 400-600$ initially including the cage, food, hiding, bedding, etc. while the average annual cost lands around 800$. This will totally depend upon the quality of food, litter, etc. you use.The cost to buy a cage, food, and treat for the first time can cost you around 150-250$ while the price for annual maintenance including food, bedding, and vet bills can average up to 600$ in total.
Vacation or a WeekendGuinea pigs cannot be left alone for more than 24 hours. They need fresh hay and veggies every day. Lack of hay for more than 24 hours can lead to serious illness in them. If you don't have someone to take care of them during the vacation, then they might not be the perfect choice for you.Guinea pigs can be left alone for 3-5 days with no issues. Just top up their food and water dishes, and you are good to go. However, it is not recommended to do so still if you need to, then you can leave them alone with no problem at all.


Guinea pig vs.Hamster: Which one is best for you? So, I hope you already understood that despite being from the same family of rodents, both the pet are entirely different.

While one needs a much larger cage and lots of other things, others can settle for a little. However, I would any day go for a guinea pig if you ask me to choose between them.

HAMSTERS VS GUINEA PIGS | Hamster HorsesandCats

I would recommend you also check out some great article on guinea pigs to know more about them before you get one:

Although it is upon your lifestyle and needs to choose one for yourself, I hope this article has cleared your mind and all your doubts, thus helping you choose the perfect pet for yourself. If you found the article helpful, do remember to share it in your favorite social media. It will make my day.

Source: Hamster, Petmd & RSPCA

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