When it comes to keeping small house pets, everyone associates this with guinea pigs and hamsters, among other small animals. Even more interesting, it is a common belief that these two kinds of pets get along, simply because they look somewhat similar at first glance, and because they are both rodents.
Do guinea pigs and hamsters get along? Guinea pigs and hamsters do not get along well and they are not compatible to be housed together. This also applies for sharing the cage and even sharing a play space or floor space. Guinea pig and hamsters have different nutrition habits, territorial habits, different body sizes, cage size, behaviors and instincts, and different socializing habits. All of these main factors make them incompatible to be together in the same space or to get along in general.
When two rodent species are together in the same cage, many issues and problems could arise due to the differences in their habits, characteristics, and needs. The most common problem to expect when keeping them together is the high possibility of extreme conflict between the two.
Mistakenly, a lot of people believe guinea pigs and hamsters should be interactive and socialize with each other, simply because they are rodents, similar in appearance, and different in size only.
However, these two species are anything but interactive with each other, and they are different in almost all aspects, not just size. In the following sections, we are going to explore this topic in detail. Let’s begin!
Difference Between Hamster and Guinea Pig
There are several reasons why guinea pigs and hamsters don’t get along.
• Their Diets Are Quite Different
Both of these pet species have different types of food throughout the day. They both like carrots, but everything else is different. If you place the guinea pig and hamster in the same cage and place food for them to share, you won’t know which of them will pick a certain food.
Can guinea pigs eat hamster food and the other way around? Guinea pigs must get alfalfa hay daily, whereas hamsters need commercial ‘hamster’ pellets. They can both eat fruits, but only in moderation, however, guinea pigs tend to eat fruits but less in comparison to hamsters. Guinea pigs need lots of vitamin C supplements, whereas hamsters depend on seeds and veggies more.
To sum the nutrition up, sharing food in the same cage for these two species could result in one of them having nutritional deficiencies because they would most likely not eat identically.
Related: Can Guinea Pigs Eat Hamster Food?
• Differences in Territorial Behavior and Habits
Both these species are territorial and want to claim their own space for themselves. This is especially seen in hamsters – they are more aggressive and territorial, and even other hamsters cannot cohabitate with hamsters due to this, let alone other species.
Just the idea of adding a larger and similar animal to themselves in their own cage is unimaginable.
If this is the case, expect the hamster to be hostile toward the guinea pig and to hide in the corners while hissing, but the guinea pig would also signal hostility as well, mostly by squeaking. The scary part is that both species like to bite or fight when worried about territory.
• Physical Differences
The guinea pig is much larger than the hamster. The guinea pigs are obedient and calmer, but on the other hand, they have much larger and sharper teeth. These two species are not carnivores, but they sure do bite each other when conflicted. It is obvious why these two are not compatible.
• Different Needs for Cage Size
The space between cage bars for these species is very different. The cage of the guinea pig has wide spacing, so if hamsters are their roommates, they can easily escape the guinea pig cage.
Those that decide to keep these two together, need to put them both in one hamster cage, solely for the purpose of the hamster not escaping. This is not good for the guinea pig as those cages lack space for its larger size.
A large fish aquarium is a safe option by itself, but we mentioned already some differences that do not allow sharing the same space.
• Different Instincts, Habits, and Behaviors
Guinea pigs are diurnal, or active mostly during the day and sleeping most of the night. Hamsters are nocturnal, they are active at night and less active during the day. Needless to say, when one of them sleeps, the other one would be active, and this is a huge obstacle for sharing a cage.
Also, the rodents like to keep their own corners, for food or sleeping and personal space. Imagine what would happen if both the guinea pig and hamster fight over a corner in the cage for hoarding food – the food they both share!
• Different Ways of Socializing
Hamsters are more solitary, and guinea pigs are more sociable, and they like to live in a herd. Don’t be surprised if the hamster likes to attack anything viciously in its way. Guinea pigs, on the other hand, are more secluded and like to hide silently.
How Are Guinea Pigs and Hamsters Similar?
We have mentioned the differences, but what about similarities? The guinea pig and hamster do not have a lot in common. They differentiate a lot.
However, only a few basic things are their similarities, both are rodents and have whiskers. They both like to munch on fresh food (different foods for each, most of the time) and they both consume pellets.
The rest of the similarities are the default ones: the same number of paws, fur, long teeth, and similar ways of playing with their owners and toys.
Can Guinea Pigs and Hamsters Live Together in the Same Cage?
Technically speaking, the guinea pig and a hamster can share a cage, but it is highly unsafe and unsuitable. The guinea pig and hamster can fight over food, considering one is larger than the other.
Even if they do fight, it would obviously be an unfair fight due to the different body sizes. The hostility of the hamster might interfere with the sedentary and calm personality of the guinea pig.
Also, the mutually shared cage itself would pose a risk for the hamster escaping, or the guinea pig lacking the large space it needs.
Consider the hoarding habits as well and the nutrition differences. Even if you provide both these pets with the food they like, they would have trouble hoarding it in the corners of their own choosing.
There must be enough space for toilet needs, toys and playing, as well as sleeping. With all these things in mind, know that the cage would be way too crowded and unpleasant for different rodent species.
Guinea Pig vs Hamster: What Is the Right Pet for You?
Is a guinea pig or hamster a better pet? There are several questions to have in mind when choosing a rodent pet. Initially, you need to prepare enough space for any pet you choose, not just a rodent.
Guinea pigs and hamsters are not too needy, they just need a cage fit for their size, several food items that are easy, cheap to find and purchase, and some floor space to walk around once in a while.
Related: What Do Guinea Pigs Need?
The other thing to have in mind is the budget you have. Guinea pigs and hamsters are budget-friendly, but you will still need to purchase food and pellets, quite often for the latter. The cage pellets must be changed immediately after they start to smell, or after a few toilet visits by your furry pet friend.
Also, if you want two of the same pets, guinea pigs are a better choice. Remember, guinea pigs are less hostile than hamsters and get lonely more often, so they need another guinea pig partner. Hamsters also like the company, but they can be fine even when solitary.
The last thing to consider is whether you have other pets, like cats, dogs or something else. It can be highly dangerous for the rodents to be in the same space with animals that could sniff or climb around their cage. There are many dangers of other pets attacking or injuring the fragile guinea pig or hamster.
Can a Hamster and a Guinea Pig Mate?
No, guinea pigs and hamsters can not mate under any circumstances. The guinea pig is much larger than the hamster, and it is, of course, another species.
Mating between a guinea pig and a hamster is impossible, and any such inappropriate attempt will result in severe injuries or even death of the hamster. Similar to them both fighting.
Can Guinea Pigs and Hamsters Play Together?
No, guinea pigs and hamsters can’t play with each other without your supervision. If they are kept separately in their own cages, it is possible to have them both as pets. Once they are free to walk on the floors with their toys or snacks, keep an eye on them not to collide or fight out in the open in your home.
However, they should not be placed in the same cage with their wheels and toys, because they need different sized toys and the guinea pig requires much more floor space than the hamster does.
Guinea pigs are more social, live longer but they need more cage space and they make loud and various noises. Hamsters are smaller and they don’t need a lot of space, but they are often aggressive and very active at night.
With all of these things in mind, you should be able to decide which rodent you’d prefer as a pet. Keep them happy, playful, healthy and safe!
List of Sources
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Taravosh-Lahn, K., Delville, Y., Aggressive behavior in female golden hamsters: development and the effect of repeated social stress, Hormones and Behavior, 2004.
Peter Wen-Shyg Chiou, Bi Yu, Chung-Yi Kuo, Comparison of Digestive Function Among Rabbits, Guinea-Pigs, Rats and Hamsters. I. Performance, Digestibility and Rate of Digesta Passage, Asian-Australasian Journal of Animal Sciences, 2000.
Fernandez, M. L., Wilson, T. A., Conde, K., Vergara-Jimenez, M., Nicolosi, R. J., Hamsters and guinea pigs differ in their plasma lipoprotein cholesterol distribution when fed diets varying in animal protein, soluble fiber, or cholesterol content., The Journal of Nutrition, 1999.
Hokao, R., Saito, T. R., Takahashi, K. W., Comparison of sexual behavior patterns in small laboratory animals, Jikken Dobutsu. Experimental animals., 1993.
Pace, N., Rahlmann, D. F., Smith, A. H., Muscularity as a function of species, sex and age in small mammals, California Univ.; Berkeley, CA, United States, 1984.