Guinea Pig Vs. Hamster

Updated on April 29, 2013
M.M. asks from Newark, NY
20 answers

We would like to get a small pet for our daughter for her birthday. We currently have 3 cats, 2 chickens and a fish. We are considering either a hamster or a guinea pig. I've heard guinea pigs make better pets, but would love to hear from some pet owners to verify this. My brother had a hamster growing up, and it seemed like a decent pet. I think she would love a bunny, but I hear they are not the best of pets. Thanks for your help!

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answers from San Francisco on

I vote for rats. Smart and interesting. Guinea pigs are cute but dumb as wood. I don't think hamsters are that interesting either. I think they might be a little more lively than guinea pigs.

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answers from Orlando on

Guinea pigs hands down! They are better for little kids cAuse they are more social pets. But keep in mind a little more upkeep such as they are prone to colds and need extra vitamin c. Also if you can get 2 they would be happier :) they like company. Yes they are noisy but they are just so gosh darn cute when they "whee wheee" I should add that my 5 year old son had 2 that we got from a rescue and he did very well with :) he knees to be gentle, and helped feed and water them daily. So they can be good for younger children if you supervise them.

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answers from Rochester on

I LOVED having Guinea Pigs. They were my first pets and are very good animals to keep. I recall they were pretty affordable, they are affectionate, friendly, and we did not have trouble with them with our cats, although we only let them out with supervision and outside if they were in a grazing ark.

I also had rabbits and found that it is hit or miss with personality, but most of the time a single rabbit makes a great pet. I had a very sweet male rabbit and a super-snuggly female, and one psycho female. The psycho one, of course, was the exception. Rabbits are nice because you can box-train them, they get along pretty well with other animals including cats, and are relatively low-maintenance as well.

I do not like hamsters and have never owned one, so can't help you there. :)

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answers from Dallas on

Hamsters are nocturnal - active at night which is NOT the best behaviour if you want to get any sleep around them. Guinea pigs are most active during dawn/dusk so that would work out better. They are also social, so it might be good to have 2 of them.

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answers from Dallas on

Guinea pigs need a lot of space. When we were looking into getting a guinea pig for my niece, all the information we found, said minimum cage size standards of 7.5 or 10.5 square feet. (You can look at for that info. They give great info on the environments guinea pigs should live in.) They are VERY lonely being an only, they really need a (same sex) cage mate. Their health can suffer from not enough playtime and interaction. They don't like the heat. They need to be kept an an area that does not get hotter then 75-80 degrees. They are prone to heat stroke. Really, you need to get two guinea pigs not one. If your children won't give them A LOT of floor play time, it's not the best pet.

I don't know much about hamsters, other then we've never had problems with them. They don't live as long as guinea pigs, but they require less space. The tiny (dwarf) hamsters are always so mean. We've always had a teddy bear hamster, and they've always been nice.

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answers from Detroit on

Guinea pigs are more easily handled if they are gotten used to it as babies and are bit more sturdier than hamsters - but either way, both animals need to be handled very gently. Guinea pigs are also probably less apt to bite (again, if used to being handled) and are more active during the day (whereas hamsters are more active at night, and therefore can make more noise running on the wheel when everyone is trying to sleep). Also, guinea pigs tend to live 5 or 6 years under ideal conditions, while hamsters tend to live for 2 (maybe 3 if you are lucky). Guinea pigs have to have their diet supplemented with vitamin C - other animals do not (except for primates, including us - and I don't recommend a monkey as a pet!) because they can make what they need in their own bodies. So guinea pigs need their own guinea pig food with vit C added as well as extra vit C in supplements to make sure they are getting enough. On the other hand, hamsters don't require as much space.

Bunnies can make good pets but again, need to be used to human contact and handling from the time they are born. They can get scared while being held or picked up and if they struggle, can kick hard enough with their hind legs to fracture their own backs, so I don't recommend small children trying to pick them up or hold them in their laps in case they suddenly decide to panic. They can be litter box trained and should be spayed/neutered by a vet with rabbit experience to stay healthy. Their diet requirements are little different in that their digestive system is actually more like a horse, and they have specific requirements for fiber, and need certain types of hay and grasses to keep their GI tract happy. They can live 8 to 10 years if cared for properly.

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answers from Atlanta on

Guinea Pig!! They are far more personable. I had one for 8 years during childhood, and he was like a little puppy! I also had a hamster for awhile, and it was just, well, a hamster in a cage with a wheel -not so great to me.

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answers from New York on

I vote no to a hamster. We had one once. It's awake at night and noisy with chewing and scratching and running on it's wheel. The noise drove me nuts at night!

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answers from Sacramento on

We vote for piggies!!! But it depends on the age of your child... and it depends on how much work you want to put into them. And how much you're willing to spend for food and bedding. They do require more than changing their bedding and feeding Short haired ones require less care, and you do need to be comfortable trimming their nails. I think they are perfect for kids around 6 or 7 and up (with parent help).

Do your research first though... they do need space and they do much better when they are paired with either a same sex sibling or bonded with another. We have 2 males (more than 2 will fight). We built our cage easily with wire racks and sign board. It gives them plenty of room to move around and we don't have a problem with odor with regular weekly cage cleaning.

Please check into getting your piggies from a foster person or a rescue if there is one in your area. We contacted a woman in our area and told her exactly what we were looking for and the ages of our kids and she gave us the perfect pair for our family. We also got them knowing that they had been handled a lot and were tame (don't get a baby unless you plan to handle it A LOT.) We knew ours were healthy and without nutritional deficiencies or mites.

If your child is young (and won't really handle a pet) or if she's just interested in watching it run on a wheel, a hamster could be a good choice. They don't require as much food or space or care. But if she wants to be able to hold it, piggies are much more social and rarely bite. And piggies are entertaining, make sweet noises (and squeals when hungry or lonely)!

Good luck!!

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answers from Kansas City on

I had hamsters. How much are your cats going to want to eat it? I had a cat who would literally sit and watch the hamster for hours, and once the hamster managed to open the door to her cage...and bye bye hamster.

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answers from Charlotte on


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answers from New York on

I LOVED my "piggets". I think GPs are generally more sturdy. Mine lived outside in a hut very similar to a rabbits. I would make sure that they had fresh water every day at least twice a day (especially in winter when it could freeze, particularly overnight) and had a heater coil in the bedding box. GPs are generally more active during the day and have a lifestyle more likely to fit in because of it. I liked being able to brush mine. They came in cool colors and I liked the long fur. I found I had to change out the bedding quite frequently to avoid odors. The urine is very strong amonnia. They also like running room and my aquarium had a ramp with a shelf that they liked a lot!

Now, my sister had hamsters and I even took one to college since the cage was small enough to fit under my raised twin bed. My biggest complaint was the wheels turning all night bothered me. I think they were less messy, less smelly and less noisey (GPs squeek really loudly).

It really all depends on your desires and goals. It also depends on her age, as I said GPs are sturdier.

Good luck.



answers from Buffalo on

Rabbits make wonderful pets! Try to find a young one or one who was hand raised. Play w/it before you buy it. If it shows no intrest in humans, it will more than likely stay that way. You want one that is very friendly. (They may be some what scared at first.) They are nice also because you can keep them outside as weather permits. They very much enjoy being outside. They have their own personalities, like any other pet. Also, you can (and should) feed them all sorts of veggies, fruits, etc. You can give them all sorts of peelings from your kitchen. Grab a book from the library and read about them, it will make things easier and give you some quick guidelines. (Or look it up on line!) They sell leashes so your daughter can take the bunny in the grass so it can play and eat weeds. They do a happy dance that is just amazing to watch!
Guinea pigs are also nice. I haven't had one, but know a few people who do. Hamsters and gerbils are more stinky, and are more likely to bite, in my opinion. I did not enjoy mine when I was little.
Whatever you decide, I would defiantly play with before you buy! Make sure it's friendly! :)



answers from Denver on

I had a hamster growing up and had NO FRIENDS so it was perfect for me. They need to be handled A LOT to be hand tame and so since i played with no one else my hamster was handled daily. Many of the hamsters available in shelters and pet stores have had little to no handling and could already be "bitey" by the time you get it. Also I have seen people get bitten before and a hamster bite is nasty. They are tenacious. I also know they are nocturnal so their activity at night may bother people and that might explain the bitiness as they are often disturbed by kids when they should be asleep. We also had guinea pigs when I was younger and I loved them too. They are not as dependent on lots and lots of handling so they are good if a kid has other interests too. They are kind of noisy but seem to be more diurnal so not as bugged by kids during the day and more quiet at night. Rabbits are somewhat fraglie and can actually have their backs broken through poor handling or falls from little kid arms so I would reserve those for homes with kids who are all old enough to handle them correctly (probably all 10 or older). Good luck with your decision



answers from New York on

We had hamsters growing up.....kind of a stupid pet....they sleep ALL day and are up ALL they only live 2-3 years! Don't know much about guinea pigs....but I think I'd research those to see if they live longer and are awake during the day. My friend has a bunny for her kids....they don't really do much and chew EVERYTHING when not in their cage...despite giving their bunny every chew toy you can buy for a bunny, when they take her out of her cage she chews the carpet and the moulding. Big some google to the people in your local pet store to make sure you get what you are looking for....good luck!!!


answers from Los Angeles on

My vote is the smaller the better, whatever it may be...hamster, rat, mouse, etc. I had guinea pigs growing up and they get big and their cages get stinky fast! I cleaned my guinea pigs cage weekly and scooped out poop daily. There was always a strong ammonia smell. Maybe I had a stinky one, because no one else complained,LOL!



answers from Minneapolis on

We had both growing up. Hamsters do not make any noise... guinea pigs (can) make lots of noise. That would be a factor I would consider.




answers from Harrisburg on

Hi! I just bought my son (he is 4 years old) a guinea pig on Friday! We love it! She is so gentle. A little nervous, but does not bite or try to run away. She just lets us hold her and stares at us. She is fitting in very nicely! Good luck, W..


Hi! I just bought my son (he is 4 years old) a guinea pig on Friday! We love it! She is so gentle. A little nervous, but does not bite or try to run away. She just lets us hold her and stares at us. She is fitting in very nicely! Good luck, W..



answers from New York on

Hamsters are generally smaller, cuter, livelier, and more interesting. If you want a single animal, then a male golden hamster is the best choice: generally calm, friendly, non-biting, with not too much scent.

Guinea pig babies are incredible; they're born wide-eyed, furry, curious and ready to scamper around. They grow into slow, rather dull adults...unless you let them have a family and allow them to roam about occasionally. The daddy leads the babies in single file while the mommy plays caboose and watches over them from the rear. This is the natural behavior of their cavy ancestors in the wild.



answers from Utica on

Guinea pigs are the loudest little squeakers ever. The noise they make is ridiculous and really annoying JMO. Hamsters are easier to care for I think but they are are not as 'fun' to play with as per a childs point of view
They both stink because they pee all over the wood chips and if you leave that sit for more than a few days watch out
Good Luck

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