Hamster Vs. Guinea Pig: Which Is A Better Pet For You?

Are you planning to get a pet for your family? Not sure about the factors you need to take into account while buying one?

I’ve gone through the same troublesome situation, and so today I’ve decided to help you choose the right pet for you and your family. In this article, we will compare Hamster vs. Guinea Pig to find out which one is best suited to your lifestyle.

Both Hamster and Guinea Pigs make excellent pets taking into consideration a few of the important factors. If you have restricted space, a tight budget, and want to get a single pet you can always go for a Hamster. However, if you can afford a large cage, regular maintenance, and want a pair or more of pets then you can go for Guinea Pigs.

You might be having a difficult time choosing to have a perfect and suitable pet for your family. It is important to keep in mind a few of the crucial dealbreakers.

Stay with me till the end and I can ensure you would be clear with your thoughts.

Hamster Vs. Guinea Pig – Which Is The Best Pet For Your Home?

Let us begin by checking the difference between Hamsters and Guinea Pigs. We shall compare them based on various important factors that most to be pet owners consider while choosing a pet for themselves.

Origin

Hamsters are one of the most popular pets all around the world. They were first discovered in Syria. After some time, they were also found in Greece, Romania, Belgium, and Northern China.

Guinea Pigs were domesticated around 2000BC. They were first brought home for food, then later they became popular pets all around the world. They used to live in the Andes mountains.

Species Family

Hamsters belong to Class Mammalia, Order Rodent, and Family Cricetidae.

Guinea Pigs belong to Class Mammalia, Order Rodent and Family Caviidae.

Variety (Breed)

Till now, 24 main species of Hamsters have been found. Although, there is more variation available due to breeding multiple styles of coat; they have been officially classified into 18 species only.

As per the American Cavy Breeders Association, there are 13 breeds of Guinea Pig that are recognized.

Weight

Depending on the breed, the weight of an adult Hamster is somewhere between 25-60 grams. A new born can even be 1.2 grams.

The weight of an adult guinea pig can be anywhere between 800-1200 grams. The weight also depends upon their breed and gender. 

Lifespan

The average lifespan of a Hamster is somewhere between 2-3 years. It depends on the breed and the attention that they receive. The longest living Hamster survived for over 4.5 years.

The average lifespan of a Guinea Pig is somewhere between 4-8 years. It depends upon their breed, the attention they receive, and a lot of other factors. The oldest guinea pig has lived for over 14 years and 10.5 months.

Size

There are actually 24 types of Hamsters known in the world, all of which come in a wide variety of colors and sizes. The European breed can grow as large as 13.4 inches (34 cm) long. The dwarf hamsters are about 2 to 4 inches (5.5 to 10.5 cm) long and the Syrian hamster, also known as the Golden Hamster, is typically about 6 inches (15.24 cm) long.

Guinea pig usually grows up to 8-10 inches in length. While some grow a little longer, others remain a little short. It all depends upon their breed.

Herbivore or Omnivore(Classification)

Being omnivores, Hamsters eat both plants and animals (mostly insects). Some of them love to eat nuts, fresh veggies, and fruits, while others love to eat small insects, lizards, etc.

Being herbivores, Guinea Pigs need a diet of hay, fresh vegetables, and fruits in it. You can also serve them with commercially prepared pellets.

Offspring

Female Hamster tends to have two to three litters per year. They are matured once they are ten weeks old and can give birth to up to 6-8 pups in a litter. Their gestation period lasts about 15-20 days.

Guinea Pigs tend to have about 5 litters per year. They are matured once they are three weeks old and can give birth to up to 8 pups in a litter.

Cleanliness

Hamsters are clean animals by nature. You can easily get away by cleaning their cage once in 15-20 days. You can spot clean the cage once in a while. Most of the Hamsters will quickly get into the habit of using just one corner of their cage as a lavatory.

Though Guinea Pigs create a mess around their cage, they are naturally clean animals. You will need to spot clean their cage daily and change the bedding once in a week or so. They poop every now and then, so keeping up with the cleanliness in important.

Smell

In most cases, Hamsters do not smell much. They are odor-free animals. However, you must clean their cage regularly. An untidy cage can be a problem.

Just like Hamsters, most Guinea Pigs do not smell. There is a very slight chance that you will find them smelling. However, if you do not maintain their cage properly, then it might start to smell.

High/Low Maintenance

Hamsters are not that hard to look after. They are low maintenance pets. You will see that they are cheerful even when left alone.

Guinea pigs need more maintenance in comparison to Hamsters. They do not have any need in particular. They need a clean environment to live in so you might need to clean their cage at regular intervals.

Child-Friendly

Hamsters make an excellent child friendly pet. They are perfect for school aged children. However, children below than the age of 5 years must not be given to handle it.

Guinea Pigs make an amazing pet for children. They are friendly and docile in nature.

Nocturnal

Hamsters are nocturnal/crepuscular. This means, some Hamsters sleep mostly during the daytime and remain active throughout the night. while others stay active both day and night. Usually, they sleep in small laps of few minutes throughout day and night.

Unlike Hamsters, Guinea Pigs are not nocturnal. They are diurnal in nature, which means they stay active mostly throughout the day and sleep at night.

Space

We can say that your Hamster must be provided with at least a 30-40 gallon tank or say 4 square feet of space and 20 inches height square feet of space to be comfortable. The bigger the cage, the better.

Guinea Pigs require a much larger area in comparison to Hamsters. A pair of Guinea Pigs need at least 8 square feet of space. They require a relatively larger space to eat, play, and sleep around.

Company

Hamsters are solitary animals, they are better off alone. It is advised not to keep more than one Hamster in an enclosure. They may even fight themselves to death.

Guinea pigs are social animals, they prefer to live in a group of two or more. One should not keep a single Guinea Pig. They can get depressed and lonely due to a lack of social interaction. If you are planning to get yourself a Guinea Pig, you better be prepared for at least a pair.

Noise-level

Hamsters are nocturnal, they are most active at night. Their exercise wheel may disturb you a lot. You must think twice before keeping your Hamster in your bedroom.

Guinea Pigs do not make much noise. They have a low pitch which won’t disturb you. They will remain calm all the time if you have provided them with food and water before bedtime.

Bite

Hamsters rarely bite their owners, and even if we do nothing critical is going to happen. However, if your Hamsters are angry, they may bite you hard, causing pain and bleeding. You may need some antibiotics and a tetanus shot after a bite.

Guinea Pigs do not bite until they have a strong reason to do so. Although young piggies can nibble your hand to check what it is but won’t bite you hard.

Personality

Hamsters prefer to stay alone. They do not like companies like other pets. They are usually submissive in nature. In no condition adult Hamsters should be kept together, they may get violent and end up killing each other.

Unlike Hamsters, Guinea Pigs prefer to live in a group of two or more. They are social, outgoing, active, and friendly creatures.

Taming

Initially Hamsters can be a little aggressive. They also like to live alone so taming them can be a challenge.

It is easier to tame a Guinea Pigs than Hamsters. They are friendlier and are quick learner. Therefore, training them can be fruitful.

Shedding

Usually, Hamsters shed with change in season or temperature. During summer and spring, you will notice their fur goes thin, and this is common in most Hamsters breed.

Guinea Pigs shed less in comparison to Hamsters. They are light to medium shedders. They tend to shed more during spring and early summers. However, most of the time, the shedding is limited.

Cost to buy

Hamsters usually cost less than $20 to buy. They are mostly available in pet stores and with breeders as well.

Guinea Pigs can cost anywhere between 10-40$ (the average price being around 25$), depending upon their breed. You can get yourself one from a pet store, rescue center or a breeder.

Cost to keep up

A decent Hamster cage would cost you approximately $60 dollars. Initial bedding, food, and cage supplies would cost you approximately 100$. The average annual cost can go up to 500$.

The initial setup(including the cage, food, hiding, bedding, etc.) for a pair or Guinea Pigs can be around 500$-600$. The average annual cost can go up to 800$. It also depends upon the quality and brand of food, litter, etc. you use.

Vet cost

It is advised to take your Hamster for a visit to the vet for at least once in 8-10 months. The visit can cost up to 30$, depend on the area you live in. Hamsters need not be vaccinated.

Just like Hamsters, it is recommended to take Guinea Pigs to the vet once every year. The visit can cost anywhere above 50$, depending upon where you live.

Vacation Or A Weekend

You can leave your Hamster alone for 2-3 days with no issues. Fill up their food and water dishes, and you are good to go. However, it is advised to not leave them alone, still if it is urgent, leave them under the guidance of a trustworthy neighbor or relative.

Guinea Pigs cannot be left alone for more than a day or so. They need fresh hay everyday, lack of hay for more than 24 hours can lead to health complications in them. If you have no one to take care of them during your vacation, then they might not be the correct choice for you.

Conclusion

Hamster Vs. Guinea Pig: Which is a better pet for you? Hamsters and Guinea Pigs both make for an excellent pet.

Hamsters can be kept in average-sized cages and does not need much attention. On the other hand, Guinea Pigs need a lot of space and also attention.

Both have their own pros and cons. You can end up choosing any of the two pets that make you happy. However, I would any day go for a Hamster if you ask me to choose between them.

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Mohini

Hello, I am Mohini, the founder of this blog. I am a qualified Animal Nutrition. I am here to help everyone understand their pets better.

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