Are you looking for small pets for kids and family? Both hamsters and guinea pigs can be excellent small pets for you. Moreover, they well-suited the new pet owners. As both of these pets are tiny and fuzzy, they need much less space than cats or dogs.

So, many people look for guinea pig vs hamster to find which one would be best for them. If you are considering bringing any of these small pets at home, you must know the difference between their behaviors, care requirements, costs, cage size, and nutrition. 

If you are confused about whether to get a guinea pig or hamster, just go through this post to get a better understanding of both these small pets and get the most suitable for you. They both look similar, but if you get their close observation, you will find how they are different from each other.

This guide will let you know the difference and will decide which is the right one for you and your family. Let’s start guinea pig vs hamster with their basics.

Guinea Pig vs Hamster

Hamster Basics

These pets are small and require smaller space as compared to guinea pigs. Also, they demand much less food to eat. The pet hamster can live only 2-3 years. But, during this time, they become too attached to their owners. And they require a little maintenance, and you require a suitable cage for them, such as a qute cage.

They also need regular feeding, a wheel, or exercise ball for physical activities and stimulation. Also they demand attention from their owners. One thing you must know about hamsters is that they are active in the evening and spend most of their day sleeping.

Guinea Pig Basics

As compared to hamsters, guinea pigs require more attention during the day and are also a bit on the timid side. But, these things do not spare them from becoming great small pets. Not only they are suitable small pets for kids but also suitable for adults. They have more lifespan than hamsters. They can live 7 years or more, which means if you get a guinea pig, he will live longer with you than hamsters.

For guinea pigs, you require a garden hutch, a run, and some tunnels for their physical activities. These small pets are kept in pairs or larger groups. Also, you will need to feed them plenty of fresh vegetables every day.

Guinea Pig vs Hamster – Behavior and Lifespan

When the first time pet owners look for a small pet, they usually opt for hamsters because of compact size. If you give proper training to hamsters and will handle them properly, they can be cuddly and affectionate. But, do you know hamsters can fight with each other? So, it is advised to keep only one hamster in a cage.

They are also highly active, so when you get a hamster, you need to be prepared for this small pet running most of the time and making noise at night. In case if you are a light sleeper, the best idea is to keep your pet somewhere else instead of your bedroom.

Guinea Pig vs Hamster

Unfortunately, this small pet has a very short lifespan – 2-3 years only. It is true that saying goodbye to this small pet in such a short time can be hard for everyone in your family, especially kids.

Guinea pigs have a longer lifespan than hamsters. They can live ranging from 4 to 8 years. Also, guinea pigs are very social. These small pets are larger than hamsters, so they require more cage space. If you give proper training to them, you can learn to sit calmly in your lap and will also love to spend time with you. Guinea pigs sleep many times in the day and at night and can be seen super active between these naps.

Guinea Pig vs Hamster – Care Requirements

Whether you have a guinea pig or a hamster, they both require daily care, whether it is about fresh food, water, or plenty of attention or playtime. Hamsters can easily live in a smaller cage, and you can even get commercially available cages for them or can use a small aquarium for them.

On the other hand, guinea pigs need larger cages, especially when you have more than one guinea pig at your home. Make sure to keep their cage clean. You should clean their cages at least once a week to minimize smells. It will also work great in keeping your pet healthy.

Guinea Pig vs Hamster

When we talk about the difference between guinea pigs and hamsters, one thing that makes them common is exercise. These both small pets need to be exercised in one or another way. Hamsters love to play with exercise wheels and toys that you have placed in their cage. Guinea pigs also love to play with toys, but they need most of their time out of the cage to explore and stretch their legs.

Whether you want to know about a guinea pig or hamster, they both will instinctively gnaw. Both of them require chewing sticks or toys to grind their teeth. It makes them stay comfortable and functional. Also, you need to know that guinea pigs need nail trimming on a regular basis.

Guinea Pig vs Hamster – Overall Costs

If you are wondering about the cost of guinea pigs and hamsters so that you can make a decision of purchasing this small per within your budget, you must know their overall cost. The average cost of a hamster is around $10 to $20. Guinea pigs are a little more expensive than hamsters. They are available in the range of $20 to $40. The cage of a guinea pig is also costlier than the cage of Hamsters because it is larger in size than the cage of hamsters.

If we compare the cost of food of both these small pets, guinea pigs cost more than hamsters because they eat more and will have more food bills than hamsters. Also, it is required to give hay to guinea pigs, whereas on the other hand, hamsters do not require this additional feed element.

When you take a guinea pig to your home as a pet, you will find the cost of the vet for a guinea pig more than treating hamsters. Also, it is recommended to visit the vet regularly to examine and monitor the guinea pig’s health. For hamsters, the regular vet visit for wellness appointments is more limited. If you have a hamster, you will require visiting the vet only in an emergency. But, at the same time, you must also know that a single vet visit for your hamster can be expensive.

Guinea Pig vs Hamster – Cage Size

Let’s now have a look at the difference between hamsters and guinea pigs in terms of their cage size. Hamsters can live in any environment, but they need an environment where they spend most of their time busy. You can keep more than one hamster as they work well when they have company. 

The recommended cage size for a hamster should be at least 24 inches and 13 inches in length and width, respectively. You can opt for a bigger cage based on your budget. Make sure to put some toys and other things in the cage so that your hamster can play around with them. The bigger cage means getting more space for the hamster to play.

Cage Size

As guinea pigs are larger in size than hamsters, it simply means that they need larger cages. Their cage size should be at least 30 inches by 36 inches. Also, guinea pigs love to be socialized; therefore, they need more space that can accommodate them easily.

Read More: Best Small Pets For Kids.

Guinea Pig vs Hamster – Nutrition

If we talk about the nutrition of guinea pigs, they are herbivores and need a basic diet only. If you own a guinea pig, you must give him an unlimited amount of hay and freshwater. You must also give one cup of fresh vegetables to your pet on a daily basis. These include cucumber, bell peppers, romaine lettuce, cilantro, parsley, etc. 

It is very important to give hay to your guinea pig as it is full of fiber that works effectively in helping these small pets with digestion. It also helps in grinding down their ever-growing teeth. Fresh vegetables are required to be included in their diet for the proper intake of vitamins and minerals. Giving Vitamin C helps in preventing the contraction of complications such as scurvy (a disease caused by the deficiency of Vitamin C).


In terms of nutrition, hamsters are omnivores, which means they require eating vegetables along with plants and insects in the wild. If you own a hamster, you should give him a minimum of 10 grams of dry commercial food, specifically formulated for hamsters. Make sure that this food should contain at least 16% of protein and 5% fat. Unlike guinea pigs, you can give various kinds of food to your hamster. These can be seeds, grains, fruits, vegetables, and insects.

Also Read: Guinea Pig Food List – Safe And Unsafe Foods For Them

Final Words

After going through this guide of guinea pig vs hamster, many points are coming to your mind. Ultimately which small pet you are going to choose completely depends on your personal preference as well as how much you can take care of them.

When both guinea pig and hamster are favorites with kids, you need to supervise their regular care, especially when you are planning to get the one for a younger kid.

If we compare the lifespan, it would be recommended to own a guinea pig as they give you more time as a cute companion. Taking care of guinea pigs requires more time and attention than hamsters. But, with a friendly fluff, guinea pigs are all worth it. 

Again, it is up to your preference. The last thing to consider is to do enough research about the pet you are planning to own. Always keep in mind, no matter what pet you own, they deserve all the time and affection.