Guinea Pig or Hamster?

Updated on December 11, 2014
S.P. asks from Chicago, IL
27 answers

Ever since my 6 year old daughter visited my sister and fell in love with her chihuahua, she has longed for a dog she can have on her lap and carry around. She begs for one almost daily. We already have a dog (an older, grumpy border collie who's definitely not a cuddler), and often have my mom's dog over here due to her health problems. Hubby has refused to consent to another dog. So the compromise is either a guinea pig or hamster. Which is more tame/affectionate/cuddly, and is one "easier" than the other? I'm fully aware that I'll be the main caretaker...

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answers from Phoenix on

Rat! Rats are way more personable and smart and playful! They have cute rats at the pet store (personally I think the "dumbo" rats are way cuter, they have big round ears lower on the sides of their head and they're cute, not like the beady red eyed white rats)

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Modesto on

they both stink and you really never know how they will act when held. pets are serious work. I'd redirect, maybe get her one of the robot cats or dogs for Christmas.... and they dont stink, eat, or poop :)

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Atlanta on

Guinea Pig! I had a guinea pig for 6 years (he was 2 when I got him) and he was a delight! He really was very much like a little puppy. I dressed him in doll clothes and rode him around in my Barbie cars. I also had hamsters at a few points, and they were just basically something to look at in a cage. Guinea pigs are much more like "real" pets!

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answers from Denver on

Guinea pig, but if you can handle it, I vote rat. They are smarter, sweeter, and love to be held, if you start with either a baby or a tame one (you can usually get rats from a pet store that sells them as pets but ALSO from your local shelter). They can often learn their names and some tricks. It's kind of like having a puppy (except, admitedly not as cute) without the mess. Only big downside is a short lifespan (2-3 years).

3 moms found this helpful


answers from La Crosse on

Guinea pig for personality.

Hamster for ease and cost.

Guinea pigs like and need much more attention (ours squeals when he hears me get up...he can even recognize the way I blow my nose in the morning because he knows snacks are coming soon). They also require fresh veggies and vitamin C, or they get scurvy or something similiar. Also, a guinea pig can run around your house and be found relatively easily...They have a lot of personality. Though, also a lot more cage cleaning, or they get smelley! The good thing is there are tons of used cages and supplies on craigslist.

Hamsters are super sweet and only last about 2-3 years on average. Ours died at 4, and we were heartbroken...bought a guinea pig assuming it was a "hamster upgrade." Needless to say they (guinea pigs) are a lot more work and care...and cost (fresh veggies daily add up!!). Best fed rodent in all of Wisconsin.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Pittsburgh on

Go for the guinea pig! Just my opinion but my vote is definitely Guinea Pig. I remember my Guinea pig and she was great, very cuddly, very personable, loved treats, loved to play, squealed every time she saw lettuce, love to be held, very people oriented pet. I had a hamster too, not very fun. It was great to watch it in it's wheel, or in the little pet ball. As for fun, not so much. If your daughter is seeking the carry it around, dress it up, love on it little pet, guinea pig is much more agreeable to this. I agree with CAwriter mom, my hamster was mean too, got bit a lot. I don't remember any bites from the guinea pig and ours was not mess, I guess that may depend on the type of cage you have for them.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Columbus on

We have a wonderful Guinea pig that we adopted from the humane society, so you might go there and see if they have any. You can see the personality, and some are bigger and more pet like. Ours is huge, and he is very afectionate, he loves to cuddle. We also have a bunny we adopeted from the humane society at the same time. This one is a little more shy, but since he uses a litter box, his clean up is much easier.


1 mom found this helpful


answers from Sacramento on

Guinea pig!!!!!!! But I would recommend two and do my research before getting them. Check out this site...

They make wonderful first pets!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Minneapolis on

As a child, my sister had G-pigs..some were noisy, others were not. As an adult, my SIL dumped one on us (multicolored longer sort of haired one with crazy cowlics...he was huge and named FatBoy!) My hubby and I had him in our small apartments. We had a cage meant for them (cage on top 2/3 with the solid plastic on the bottom tray part to keep the wood shavings in there). We came to love this fat little fella. He would do his sqwak whenever the refrig was opened..he wanted his fresh veggies! We always got the free parsley bunch offered at our grocery store with any other produce he got that each week along with other items for a daily treat, in addition to his pellet food. If he got too noisy in the evening, we covered his cage with a light blanket/sheet and he settled down, but he really was only noisy when the refrigerated opened.

We babysat my nephews female G-pig when they went on vacation, knowing the repurcussions (sister said they would deal with babies)..and indeed, one baby boy came of the union (they literally come out of the Momma running..very strange!)...we decided to adopt him...once we knew he was a HE. We got a second identical cage and got a PVC tube and cut holes to connect the 2 cages. Worked great. My young niece named the new one "Little bit" as he was a little bit of the mommy and little bit of the daddy. He learned his daddies ways and made noise with the refridge. They were fun and interesting pets for the time we had them. We could hold them and they were not so fragile as a gerbil or hamster. If we let them run around, they did so in a covered blanket and we had to make sure they stayed in there (poo issues plus they would head to the walls and chew on cords!).

They like to hide, so give them something to hide under (we had a large fake wood tunnel)..they are like cavie animals...and ours loved parsley and carrots and apples and lettuce..just watch too much lettuce and they get poo issue and can harm them. Ours died from some weird virus, the vet said. Their insides got plugged up and they both died of it within 2 weeks of each other. Just a weird thing and we were really sad...we were attached to those silly little things. They were great apartment pets for us!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

I have a friend who has guinea pigs and loves them. Hers are affectionate and cuddly. (She's an adult. She loves animals and spends a lot of time holding them, which helps them to be a better pet.)

I have had guinea pigs and hamsters and they both bit me. And I don't think you can really cuddle with a hamster.

I noticed someone mentioned a rabbit and I would say definitely NO to that. I have a rabbit we adopted last spring. It's nice but it's a total poop machine, and its bite is way worse than the guinea pig or hamster ever was.



answers from Los Angeles on

Either can make a good pet. First rule is how much space you have available. A guinea pig needs more space than a 20-gallon long fish tank. Hamsters, even the larger Syrian "teddy bear" can be kept in any of the wire cages, but get a cage with two or three levels because they like to climb up to do their business. They also like to live alone. Guinea pigs drink a lot of water, and it seems to run right through them, so be sure your cage has high sides and clean it frequently. This is probably the reason why they need fruits and vegetables for extra vitamin C, because it is water soluble. Hamsters can eat mostly the dry pet foods, alfalfa and seeds. Guinea pigs tend to be very sedentary and are usually easy to handle. Hamsters vary - if you can "test" one in the pet shop, see how it reacts to being held. They also are active mostly at night, so they may be a disappointment for kids younger than school age at home.


answers from Cleveland on

Hampster !!!

This is just my experience, but Guinea pigs are loud and very messy.
I've had TONS of animals in my lifetime. My house growing up was literally a zoo. I always had more luck with hampsters.
All the guinea pigs we had bit, made tons of noise, and kicked their bedding all over the place.



answers from Sacramento on

Just a warning that hamsters can be mean. The one we had growing up, Nibbles, was more like Jaws. We'd have to take turns being responsible for putting him in his exercise ball because he'd bite you every single time. We'd dread when it was our turn! Definitely not cuddly. That's not to say all hamsters are that way, but ours sure was mean.



answers from Boston on

We loved our guinea pig. When she was full grown we felt her cage was too small. For us (& her) the perfect solution was an "under the bed" plastic box (minus the lid, of course). It was much easier to interact with her & yet the sides were just high enough (and she was just fat enough) that she could climb out. A wonderful pet for years! BTW -- hamsters are nocturnal, I think -- a lot of fun if you're a nightowl. GPs are more likely to keep our schedule -- and, yes, she'd squeal when someone first got up in the morning.



answers from Chicago on

We have both. A hamster and a g-pig. The hamster is totally easier to take care of, but they are escape artists. If you take them out of the cage make sure you put them in a large box or a hamster ball. Otherwise, they are outta there! G-pigs are messier and you have to clean the cage much more often, but they don't move as fast. Moe (the g-pig) enjoys his carrots every morning and is a little more fun to talk too. But if his cage isn't cleaned every 5 days, it attracts flies!...yuck.

Good luck on your quest.



answers from Pittsburgh on

Hamsters are gross ! I can't stand ours-its cage is in the boys bathroom and DH is in charge of cleaning it which means it hardly gets done and the room stinks! IT makes a lot of noise at night also so it can't be in the kid's rooms. The boys barely pay attention to it either. Can't say anything about G-pigs, never had one of those.


answers from Norfolk on

Hamsters only live about 2 years. They are cute, but small, rather fragile, nocturnal and are escape artists. They are ok without company (you can have only one).
Guinea pigs are larger, a bit more study, can live about 8 yrs, they don't climb and are afraid of heights. They are better in pairs or groups (get the same sex so you don't end up hip deep in offspring). You have to feed them the correct food (guinea pig chow has vitamin C added - rabbit chow will make them sick). They need their nails clipped every so often. You can take them to a vet or learn to do it yourself.
It would be worth it to get some books "How to Care for your hamster" and "How to care for your guinea pig" (or any animal you are considering) and learn about what it takes to keep them healthy and happy before you make a choice.
My husband had guinea pigs when he was young (about 5 yrs old till 14 yrs old) and I had a hamster when I was a teenager. My hamster was loved by my whole family. It was heart breaking when she died, but she was 2 1/2 yrs old and had a very good life. I think guinea pigs are better for younger kids.



answers from Harrisburg on

I've owned both. Hamsters are easier to take care of but Guinea pigs are more 'cuddly' and friendly from what I've noticed. My hamsters were more worried about running around in their wheel than wanting to be held.

I think guinea pigs are better for younger kids. They are more work though.



answers from Saginaw on

I, personally, have only had hamsters...and they are not a very good pet. My cousin had a Guinea Pig and everyone dispised that thing. She squeeked all night long and, no matter how often they cleaned the cage, she was very stinky. I have a few friends who have rats and I would definately go in that direction. They love being held, the females don't stink(I've actually read a lot about them...considering getting one for our house), and they are so cute!



answers from Cheyenne on

My Boy whs been begging for a guinea pig or hampster as well. We wnet to our Petco to start looking into this. I am not a fan on the pigs as they always squeek and kinda smell. The lady there said hamster tend to bite alot and asked us to think about Mice. They are easy to handly and hardly ever bite. So this christmass we will have 2 new mice added to the adams house!
Good luck!!



answers from Dallas on

We never had much luck with guinea pigs. They really need a big cage. The ones at petstore aren't big enough, to fulfill their needs. The cage needs to be at least 30” by 36.” They need fruits and veggies daily. They aren't a very good alone animal. Guinea pigs get lonely. Their cages need to be cleaned often and they need to be held often. They can live for many years, but do need to see the vet, the longer they live.

With hamsters, you definitely need to hold it before you buy. Some are sweet and some think your fingers are carrots. I seriously still have a scar, on my finger from a hamster! If you hold them and they're nice, you're good to go. hamsters don't live as long.



answers from Chicago on

Oh my gosh we had guinea pigs and loved them. Problem was we were sold what we thought were two males and found out it was a male and a female. Eighteen babies later we decided this wasn't the best. So get one. Love it and they do live a couple of years, are huggable and funny and much more easier than a tiny mouselike creature. Sorry, that's how I feel. And ohmygosh, gotta tell you some were born on Thanksgiving day one year. What a treat for my children!!!



answers from Boise on

How about a cat? Or even a rabbit?

I had a hamster growing up and it was a biter. We did have the ball thing for it to go around the house in, but they are nocturnal and sleep most of the day, and make a racket at night. I don't know much about guinea pigs, but never was a fan.



answers from Phoenix on

Have you thought of a Chinchilla?

Very soft, cuddly, smart, cleaner than hamsters/guinea pigs and live longer than dogs.



answers from Chicago on

get a gerbil instead of a hamster - they are still fun and active but they don't smell as much and are cleaner animals. We have 2 hamsters and they are really fun - my daughters LOVE having them, but my friend has gerbils and she told me about the benefits of them and when these hamsters die we will get gerbils.

no matter what you pick - the personality in the pet store will be what it is at home - so if they bite when you first pick them up, don't get them!!


answers from Tampa on

Probably a rabbit. I knew someone with a Flemish Rabbit that was larger than a cat and a chihuahua! Very placid, very people friendly and very cuddly. I'm sure socialization is a very big issue as it is with any pet.

Guinea pigs are more work than you'd think (we had 2) - the upkeep on trimming nails, changing the cage and stuff took a lot of time we didn't have. They also only last 4-6 years tops.

Hamsters I'm not too familiar with, but I know their life span is shorter than a guinea pigs.



answers from Chicago on

Guinea pig!!!!!!! They love to cuddle and can run around the house. They live longer than hamsters and are not hard to care for. Depending on the guinea pig you will need to clean the cage once or twice a week. Ours always sqeaked when we opened the fridge.Wanted their veggies. Research how to care for them. They need vit. c, chew sticks, salt wheels etc.. not a big deal once you know to do it. You can even leave them for vacation as long as you have someone come in and feed them. It is like any animal though you cannot be sure it will be cuddler. We have the antisocial cat who was sweet for about a day and the dog that will not leave you alone. You never know.

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