Guinea Pig vs. Hamsters – What Make Better Pets?

So, you’re thinking about getting a small animal for yourself?

The two on top of your list might be guinea pigs and hamsters. Considering they are the best starter pets for children, you might be tempted to keep one.

However, the answer to which of the two make better pets lies in your personal preferences and needs.

This guide will take a deeper look into their differences and the pros and cons you must consider if you want to keep them as pets.

In the end, you will be able to decide whether guinea pigs or hamsters would make better pets for you.

Guinea Pigs or Hamsters – What Makes Better Pets?

Both guinea pigs and hamsters are excellent choices for pets for various reasons. They require less maintenance, need less care, and are absolutely cute and cuddly.

However, the answer to which makes the better pet for you entirely depends on multiple factors.

This is why you need to do plentiful research to learn about their differences and pros and cons.

For most people, guinea pigs make better pets because they live longer and are comparatively more social than hamsters. However, hamsters are more independent, so they are a popular pet for kids.

Differences Between Guinea Pig and Hamsters

To the untrained eye, guinea pigs and hamsters might look the same. This is why it is common to get confused between them.

However, the two are actually very different from each other.

Guinea pigs and hamsters only belong to the same rodent family, but that is where their similarities end.

The two are quite different from each other in terms of their care, diet, and even appearance.

Knowing their differences will help you learn a bit more about them. It will also help you answer whether hamsters or guinea pigs would make better pets for you.


While they might look similar, you will notice numerous differences in terms of their appearance if you look closely.

Guinea pigs are actually much bigger and chubbier than hamsters.

Guinea pigs have larger bodies, shorter legs, and more hair. However, hamsters don’t grow as big and have shorter tails.


There are also significant differences between their diets and nutritional needs. For example, guinea pigs only eat fruits and vegetables from herbivores.

On the other hand, hamsters are omnivores, meaning they eat both meat and vegetables. Moreover, guinea pigs need extra vitamin C since they cannot produce it themselves.

But that is not the case with hamsters, so they don’t require extra vitamin C supplements.


One of the most notable differences between the two is that guinea pigs are much larger than hamsters.

They can grow up to two to four times the size of hamsters, which is why guinea pigs are more expensive.

Social Behavior

In terms of personalities, the two are significantly different.

Guinea pigs tend to be friendlier with animals, humans, and other guinea pigs. They also prefer being handled and cuddled.

However, while hamsters are more active and can show for anyone watching, they are not as social.

They prefer their occasional solitude and can do well independently, but guinea pigs cannot.

Moreover, they might get aggressive when other animals. Guinea pigs also tend to be more relaxed than hamsters, who are generally more excited.

Noise Levels

Guinea pigs can be quite noisy since they tend to make various types of sounds.

However, hamsters are not as chatty and don’t make much noise.

Cage Size

Since hamsters are smaller than guinea pigs, they don’t need large cages. However, they need things to keep themselves busy in their enclosures.

They also need space to play and run around.

Guinea pigs are larger than hamsters, so they naturally need bigger enclosures. They also need plenty of space to explore around.

Keeping Hamsters as Pets

Hamsters are adorable and cuddly animals to keep as pets, which is why they are such a popular option.

However, there are some things you need to keep in mind if you plan to care for them as your pets.

They Can Be Temperamental

Hamsters tend to get aggressive and dominant with other animals around, even if you keep another hamster. Hence, it is best to have only one hamster at a time.

They Have Specific Cage Requirements

You must follow some cage requirements if you plan to keep hamsters as pets.

Not only should it be big enough for them to move around freely, but also have sufficient bedding.

It is best to get a cage with plastic bedding in the bottom. However, make sure the hamsters don’t bite or chew it.

Cover the bottom with absorbent bedding, which will reduce odors.

Additionally, you will need to keep things that will help keep the hamster busy, such as a hamster wheel.

Training Them Requires Patience

Training hamsters will also take a bit of effort, understanding, and patience. One thing to note about them is that they are nearsighted.

Hence, you should be careful around them to not frighten them because they can scare easily. And if they get startled, they are more likely to get violent and bite you.

You can use treats to help train hamsters and gain their trust. Make sure you use a low voice and don’t scream because that will frighten them.

Moreover, the younger hamsters are easier to train and less likely to bite than the older ones.

Hamsters are Nocturnal Animals

They are naturally nocturnal, which means they can be even more active during the night.

This is why it is not recommended to keep hamsters in your bedroom.

Additionally, they tend to sleep during the day and would be less likely to play with you.

Any attempt at waking them up will result in an angry hamster that would bite you.

Pros and Cons of Keeping Hamsters as Pets

Now that you know the necessary measures when caring for hamsters, here’s a rundown on keeping them as pets.

This will help you make a suitable decision:

Pros of Keeping Hamsters as Pets

  • They are active during early morning and night, which is good if you work or go to school all-day
  • They don’t make a lot of noise
  • You don’t need to clean their cage as often since they don’t make that much mess
  • They don’t take up a lot of space
  • Hamsters don’t depend on humans too much
  • Their dietary needs are straightforward

Cons of Keeping Hamsters as Pets

  • They are active at night, which might disturb your sleep
  • They have a shorter lifespan since they live up to four years only
  • Hamsters don’t like to be handled or cuddled too much
  • Hamsters can get agitated and might bite if they are scared
  • You cannot keep more than one hamster
  • They are not the best choice for small children since hamsters can get injured easily
  • They chew on cables and plastic materials

Keeping Guinea Pigs as Pets

Guinea pigs are also excellent pets to keep for children. These highly social animals are perfect for keeping because they have a long lifespan, living up to eight years.

However, before you make the decision to get them, it is important to consider what their caring requirements are.

This will help you decide whether they would make better pets than hamsters.

They Prefer Company

As mentioned earlier, guinea pigs are extremely social animals. They prefer company, whether it is other animals or humans.

In fact, if you keep guinea pigs together, they will even start grooming each other.

Training Guinea Pigs Does Not Require a Lot of Effort

While the same precaution is required with guinea pigs as with hamsters, they would likely not be as violent.

However, they can get frightened easily, which is why you should be careful when caring for them.

Guinea pigs are quite intelligent, which is why it does not take a lot of effort to train them.

You can simply train guinea pigs using treats, and soon enough, they will start recognizing you.

It will be easier for you to train a younger than an older guinea pig.

They Have Special Dietary and Nutritional Needs

Guinea pigs are notorious for having sensitive digestive systems, so special attention is needed to their diets. They are strictly herbivores, so you need to feed them only with greens.

Avoid feeding guinea pigs with lettuce or making sudden dietary changes. This can harm their health and even be life-threatening to them.

Moreover, another important thing to note about guinea pigs is that they cannot make their own vitamin C. This is why you will need to provide them with a vitamin C diet.

It is best to give guinea pigs commercial products designed specifically for them for these reasons. This will ensure that they get the proper nutrition that is safe and healthy.

They Have Specific Cage Requirements

Similar to hamsters, you will also need to pay special attention to their enclosures. However, unlike hamsters, guinea pigs need bigger space and a larger cage.

Their cage should be big enough to allow them to roam around, explore, and exercise easily. You should also include absorbent bedding to avoid any odor.

Keeping a hiding place in a guinea pigs’ enclosure is essential because such spaces help them feel safe.

Pros and Cons of Keeping Guinea Pigs

As you can tell by now, guinea pigs are quite an excellent choice as pets. However, you might still be wondering which of the two would be a better choice for you.

This is why reading these pros and cons might be helpful:

Pros of Keeping Guinea Pigs

  • They do well with other animals so that you can keep a variety of pets at home
  • They tend to be good-natured, active, sociable, and playful
  • Guinea pigs tend to be calm and rarely bit unless they are very frightened
  • They have a longer life expectancy, typically up to six years
  • They are easy to care for
  • Guinea pigs are quite independent

Cons of Keeping Guinea Pigs

  • They are fragile animals, which is why they are not suitable as pets for small children
  • You have to keep extra care of their diet since it is quite specific, and they need vitamin C to survive
  • They are sensitive creatures who can easily have an allergic reaction to certain foods and dust
  • If you don’t regularly clean their enclosures, it can leave a bad odor
  • They can chew on random things, which is why you cannot leave them unattended
  • Guinea pigs can be quite noisy
  • While they are independent, you will need to interact with them daily
  • They make a lot of mess in their cage, so you will need to keep it clean nearly every day
  • You need to groom them regularly to keep their coats healthy and fresh 

Choosing Guinea Pigs and Hamsters as Pets

As you can tell by now, guinea pigs and hamsters are quite different creatures. They have different behaviors, habits, and dietary needs.

Therefore, you need to consider all of the above factors when choosing which of the two to keep as pets. When it comes to the answer of which is the better pet, the answer depends on your preferences.

If you are someone who likes to cuddle with their pet, you might enjoy it more with a guinea pig.

Perhaps guinea pigs are the better option for children since they have a longer lifespan. They also prefer to be interacted and played with.

However, you need to keep in mind that guinea pigs are sensitive and messy animals. They also require regular grooming. All of these can be big responsibilities.

On the other hand, hamsters are not as messy. However, they don’t like to be handled too much. Moreover, they are mostly active at night.

Regardless of which you choose, both need to be given extra attention and care.

You have to give them time, proper nutrition, and plenty of space. Don’t forget to spend time with them and train them either.

Good luck!

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