Guinea Pig vs. Chinchilla – What Makes Better Pets?

Choosing between guinea pigs and chinchillas might feel like an impossible task. Both are pretty adorable and can make excellent pets.

Most people prefer chinchillas as the better pet. This is mainly because they are rarer than guinea pigs and quite fun.

However, some might prefer guinea pigs as well.

Keep reading this guide to learn about animals and determine which would make a better pet.

Guinea Pig vs. Chinchilla

When it comes to small pets, the two most popular choices are guinea pigs and chinchillas. They both are easy to look after, have similar diets, and are playful.

Moreover, both of them are also rodents. This is why when you compare guinea pigs and chinchillas, it’s like you are comparing apples to oranges.

While guinea pigs might have diets and sizes in common, this is where their differences end.

Both rodents have unique traits that are worth considering by prospective owners.

This is why the answer to which one makes the better pet is not that simple. Due to their unique traits, one might be a better pet for some owners and not for others.

The best way to decide which of the two to get as a pet is through analyzing their traits.

Moreover, learning about their differences will also help find the answer.

Learning about their traits, habits, and differences will help you make a well-informed decision.

Differences Between Guinea Pig and Chinchilla

Before discussing how guinea pigs and chinchillas are pets, let’s highlight their differences.

This will help you understand them better.

They both belong to the same family of furry mammals and rodents. While they share broad similarities, they are not the same.


Guinea pigs and chinchillas have similar diets in some ways. For example, they both consume a lot of hay.

However, they have different nutritional needs. They both eat pellets, but you cannot feed the same pellets to both of them.

Moreover, chinchillas consume more hay than guinea pigs do. Since it is less nutritious, they need a lot of it to survive.

Guinea pigs like hay, but they don’t consume that much of it. Their diet also consists of leafy greens.

Guinea pigs also need plenty of food enriched with vitamin C. This is why they cannot produce vitamin C independently, unlike other animals.

Habitat and Cage Size

Guinea pigs and chinchillas have similar habitat needs. However, their cage size differs.

Since chinchillas move and jump around, they need a larger cage. It should undoubtedly be bigger than the regular cage for guinea pigs.

Make sure you find a cage for them that is vertically and horizontally large.

Personality and Behavior

Chinchillas tend to spend more time with their owners and build a deeper bond with them. Guinea pigs don’t warm up to their owners as much.

However, once trust is built, both the animals are outgoing, entertaining, and interact with their owners.

Initial Cost

For the most part, both animals’ cost depends on which store you get them from. Since guinea pigs can be found at all pet stores, they are cheaper.

Chinchillas are rare, which is why they are costly. They will, however, cost you less or be free of cost if you get them from a shelter.


This is one of the most significant differences between the two animals.

In general and in captivity, chinchillas tend to live longer than guinea pigs. The chinchilla’s lifespan is about fifteen to eighteen years.

However, guinea pigs have a smaller life expectancy since they can live for eight years.


Another significant difference between chinchillas and guinea pigs is their hygiene and bathing needs.

Guinea pigs can be bathed typically using water.

However, chinchillas cannot get wet due to their dense fur. These animals are cleaned using specially formulated dust. It helps to keep their fur soft and clean.

This is why chinchillas are easier to care for since you don’t have to bathe them regularly.


Guinea pigs tend to trust you quicker than chinchillas will. This is why handling guinea pigs and holding them is easier.

Chinchillas tend to get scared easily. This is why they may try to run away from you when you hold them.

Moreover, chinchillas are also agile and fast, which is why they will likely move faster when you hold them.

It is essential that you spend time building trust with chinchillas before you start handling them.

This requires you to work and spend time with them every day.

Health Concerns

Overall, both animals are easy to care for and don’t have significant or distressing health issues.

They will likely not have any health issues with proper care and diet.

However, some owners might have an issue with chinchillas since they can get overgrown teeth.

Moreover, since they are pretty active, they might even get fractures.

This is why you should get your chinchillas checked by a vet if you suspect any such issues.


Neither animal is exactly intelligent or witty. They both can play with you and entertain you.

However, chinchillas are better at following instructions when it comes to training. This is why you can teach chinchillas several tricks, but not guinea pigs.

You can teach chinchillas to move around in a circle, lie down, and stand up through proper training. You can also potty train your chinchillas.

Keeping Guinea Pigs as Pets

Now that you know about the critical differences between both pets, let’s discuss each animal in detail. This will help you determine which one would be a suitable pet for your family.

Guinea pigs are a popular pet option due to various reasons. They are easy to care for require minimal maintenance and a straightforward diet.

Guinea pigs are also quite playful and entertaining. These affectionate animals rarely bite or get violent and get along with other animals.

Moreover, these small rodents have daylight waking hours. This means that they sleep and wake up with you.

Unlike other animals, guinea pigs don’t make much noise, and you don’t need to take them out for walks either.

Another great part about guinea pigs is getting them from practically any pet store. Here’s a closer look at their unique traits:


For the most part, guinea pigs are happy and affectionate animals. They are playful and will get along with humans and other animals.

Even when they feel threatened, guinea pigs do not get violent or aggressive. These animals can live on their own, but they prefer the company of others.


Guinea pigs are intelligent and can be trained efficiently through treats like leafy greens. You can train them to come when you call for them or enter their cage.

You can also teach guinea pigs to stand up or sit down.

In fact, through more intensive training, you can even teach them to jump through hoops.


You will have to bathe your guinea pigs at least once a month.

You should use a shampoo that is designed for rodents to wash them.

Moreover, you will also need to keep their nails trimmed regularly to minimize risk to themselves and others.


Guinea pig’s diet should consist of leafy greens and specific pellets.

You need to get commercial food for them fortified with vitamin C since they cannot produce it themselves.

Adult-sized guinea pigs will likely eat up to one cup of vegetables or greens. They don’t overeat, so you don’t have to worry about overfeeding them.


All in all, these are animals that are perfect for children.

They are friendly and don’t get violent, which is why kids can enjoy themselves with them.

They can make great companions to children and teenagers alike. Moreover, they are also quite low maintenance.

Keeping Chinchillas as Pets

A unique pet is definitely chinchillas since they tend to be rare. However, a growing number of people are keeping them as friendly pocket pets.

Chinchillas need a quiet place to stay in. They sleep during the day and are most active during dusk and dawn.

These small rodents should not be allowed to move around in the house without supervision. They can get injured under furniture or if you step on them.

You should also watch them because they may ingest something unhealthy.

Chinchillas can live happily independently. But they can also get along with other animals, especially if introduced as babies.

Here’s a closer look at what is involved when caring for chinchillas:


These rodents are quite active and playful during their awake hours. They will play with their toys, jump around, and run in their habitat.

This is why it is important that you have a large cage for them. Moreover, chinchillas are quite independent, so they don’t need your company that much.

These animals like to be handled and cuddled only occasionally. They can get along with other rodents and their species.


Training chinchillas can be pretty rewarding since you can teach them to do many things. With lots of patience and treats, you can teach them multiple tricks.

You can teach chinchillas to come when you call them, stand up, or sit down. You can also potty train them so they can keep their cage clean.

Hence, after training them, these animals can be even more entertaining.


Chinchillas are healthy animals, for the most part, so they don’t have serious health issues. They can live a long and healthy life with a proper diet and care.

Some health issues they could potentially develop are eye infections, mites, and overgrown teeth. They can all be easily treated by a vet.

Since chinchillas have thick hair, they don’t feel cold during winter. However, they can overheat during summers.

Hence, you should keep their cage in an area where the temperature can be controlled. Moreover, their enclosures should contain bedding, a water bowl, and plenty of food.

You should also provide a bowl of dust once a month to chinchillas to clean themselves.

Do not bathe chinchillas since they have thick hair. Instead, they use dust to clean their fur.

There is also no need to trim their nails or hair. Lastly, change their bedding and litters once a week.


These animals tend to consume commercial food when it comes to their diet. This is typically in the form of pellets.

Besides this, they eat lots of hay, which should be available to them at all times. You can also occasionally give chinchillas fruits and vegetables like papaya and carrots.


Chinchillas are also an excellent pet for families with children. They are easy to care for, and you don’t need to do a lot to bathe or clean them.

Moreover, they can be quite entertaining since you can teach them multiple tricks.

However, it would be a good idea to keep companions of the same species if they have been littermates.

Can Guinea Pigs and Chinchillas Live Together?

While these rodents are similar animals, you cannot keep them together. Doing so will significantly put them in danger.

In the same cage, they may start to be aggressive with each other. This is especially true since they will become territorial and fight over resources.

Moreover, keeping them together in the same cage is also not a good idea since they have different needs. While they have similar diets, everything else is different.

Chinchillas need a cooler environment than guinea pigs. Moreover, guinea pigs don’t mind water, but chinchillas cannot get water on their fur.

Therefore, if you keep a chinchilla and guinea pig together, you will likely end up with two unhappy pets. Due to their sharp nails, they might even physically harm each other.

Final Words

Hence, it is clear that the answer to which animal makes the better pet depends on your needs and preferences.

Both are easy to care for but have different needs.

Assess whether you can meet their needs and whether or not they will be happy in your home.

This will help you make a suitable and informed decision.

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