Are Guinea Pigs Related to Hamsters?

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Are you also confused about guinea pigs and hamsters? Of course, they’re both furry, with round eyes, cute looks, and the same kind of teeth. Still, they are quite different and this keeps you wondering, are guinea pigs related to hamsters?

Absolutely! Guinea pigs are related to hamsters. They both are rodents and of the same order of mammals. However, they belong to different families of rodents.

In addition, hamsters and guinea pigs are both four-footed. Both of them also have the same condition in which their teeth steadily grow. What’s more interesting is that these two rodents can be owned as pets around the world.

Now you know that guinea pigs are related to hamsters, it might surprise you to know that this relationship doesn’t mean they’re so much alike. Having thought about this, you might be wondering, what is the difference between a hamster and a guinea pig?

Let’s find out as we read on!

What is the Difference Between a Hamster and a Guinea Pig?

It’s interesting to know that these two cute creatures have few similarities but the differences are many. In addition, most of these differences are very clear to spot. However, you can tell which is a guinea pig or a hamster through these:

Size and Weight

This is a very clear difference between these two rodents. A guinea pig is a lot bigger than a hamster.  A mature guinea pig normally reaches about 7.9 in (20 cm) to 11.8 in (30 cm) in size and can weigh up to 2.6 pounds.

Hamsters on the other hand grow up to 2 in (5 cm) to 6 in (15 cm) in size. This is like half the size of a guinea pig. These sizes differ from breed to breed but guinea pigs are always about twice the size of hamsters. Also, they still weigh less.

Diet

Guinea Pig Eating Hay

It appears these two cute creatures have different tastes in the diet. Hamsters are omnivorous creatures. You’ll find them eating different plants, worms, and insects.

Guinea pigs, on the other hand, are herbivores. Eating just hay, grasses and most vitamin C-enriched fruits and veggies is just their thing. A hamster’s type of diet is pretty enough to give the vitamins they need.

Feeding Habit

Hamster Eating with Front Paws While Standing on Both Hind Legs

One exciting thing about hamsters is their ability to store food in their cheeks. They have pouches in their cheeks that help them do this. This way, they save snacks they’ll eat later on. They hardly eat all at once. 

Also, they normally eat while standing upright on their hind legs. Guinea pigs, on the other hand, can’t do this. They eat with all four legs down on the floor.

Moreover, they have no pouches and don’t store foods in their cheeks. Instead, they would eat food given to them at once and then expect more..

Offspring

Hamster Puppies - Blind and without Fur

The babies of these two cute rodents aren’t alike at all. Hamsters give birth to blind babies that are without fur and no teeth.  These teeth normally come out a week after birth.

At once, they can give birth to up to 6 – 12 in number. Sometimes you can count 20 cubs. So much for a creature this small! 

Moreover, guinea pigs babies are quite furry at first with wide eyes, teeth, and are ready enough to move about after a few hours of birth. Also, guinea pigs bear a smaller number of pups, normally 2 – 4 at once.

Social Behavior

Guinea Pigs Living Happily with One Another

Generally, Guinea pigs are well known to be the friendly kind. They’re quite interactive with other guinea pigs, other animals, and even humans. You’ll see them mostly running away if they’re scared. So, with such behavior, it’s possible to have two guinea pigs in one cage. 

Interestingly, they never like to be alone. It could even make them seriously sick to tell you how much they love company. However, the case of hamsters is different. 

Hamsters care much about owning territories and can’t stand being in the same cage with other hamsters.  They don’t get along with one another, especially for food. If stressed or scared, they could be aggressive and sometimes bite. 

Lifespan

Interestingly, guinea pigs are not just bigger but they also live longer. A healthy guinea pig can live up to 5 to 8 years. Moreover, hamsters have a short lifespan. It’s normally about 2 – 3 years which is almost half of a guinea pigs’ life span.

Physical Activities

Hamster Running in a Wheel

Guinea pigs can jump pretty well but aren’t good at climbing at all. Hamsters, on the other hand, are excellent climbers. They can stand on both of their hind legs and do stuff with their front paws. This helps them reach heights and climb so well. So, a hamster is one that normally stands upright.

Hamsters are very playful and running in the wheel is a common thing they do. They love it and can run for hours. 

However, guinea pigs can’t and shouldn’t be allowed to run in wheels. They’re not just fit for it and can get seriously hurt if they try to do it. Mostly, they’ll hurt their spines which aren’t as flexible as a hamster’s and aren’t just fit for such activity.

Active Hours

Nighttime is usually the busy time for most rodents. This is when they do much of their work. This is the same with hamsters as they are mostly active at night

During the daytime, you’ll find them sleeping for long, mostly after a long run on the wheel. Guinea pigs are somewhat different when it comes to keeping busy. These rodents stay active almost for almost a whole day. 

Interestingly, they sleep both during daytime and nighttime. These creatures just don’t have a specific time for sleeping and when they do, it’s always very short. In addition, their total sleep for a whole day can be about 4 to 6 hours and never at a stretch.  So, hamsters are nocturnal but guinea pigs are not.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Is a Hamster or Guinea Pig Better?

They both are cute rodents and can make lovable pets. Generally, we can’t conclude which is better. It all depends on individual preferences. 

Certain things can make some people like guinea pigs and also can make some like hamsters as well. If it’s about cuteness, it’s hard to decide as they both are really cute. Let’s look at some important things to note before deciding on which is your favorite.

  • Space They Take
Hamster living in small cage

Both are pocket-sized pets but some people will still prefer a more pocket-sized pet. However, our little hamsters fit right well in this category. They aren’t just small but also need smaller cages. 

They’re fine to have indoors at all times. Guinea pigs, on the other hand, need so much space, especially a hutch that has a run in it. They also can stay indoors but prefer to be outside most times. 

So, considering space, a hamster takes only a little. You don’t need a yard for them as they are better off inside the house at all times and in their cages.

  • Available Variety

There are 13 kinds of guinea pigs available to own as pets. However, hamsters are of 24 types, but you can only own only five types. This means guinea pigs are more considered pets than hamsters.

If you’re normally the quiet type, then a hamster is a better option. Guinea pigs are well-known to be noisy and have several sounds they make. 

So, if noise is your concern, a hamster is better. even at night when they are most active, they stay quiet too.

  • How Long They Live

If you can’t cope with caring for your pet for long, then having a hamster is better. However, if you don’t like to lose your pet so soon, guinea pigs are better as they can live longer.

  • Their Behavior
Guinea Pigs - A Very Friendly Pets to Have

Interestingly, both of these creatures are adorable and fun to be with. Guinea pigs would have more time to spend with you as they’re active most of the time. Hamsters prefer not to be disturbed most times in the day, especially when they’re having their long naps the day.

Hamsters are happy staying on their own and sometimes can be harsh to any other hamster, animals, and even their owners. Guinea pigs love company and being around people, and other animals including other guinea pigs. 

So, guinea pigs are naturally friendlier than hamsters and also kids can be safer with them.

  • Your Budget

This is a big factor that can help you decide which of these two rodents is better for you. For guinea pigs, caring for them needs more money. You’ll spend more getting larger cages and more especially on their diet which is carefully selected. 

And most times, they stay in pairs making things more expensive. Hamsters can eat almost anything and it’s cheaper to care for them. So a hamster is a more affordable pet to have.

Would a Guinea Pig Kill a Hamster?

To answer straight, no! A guinea pig can’t kill a hamster intentionally. Come to think of it, if you look at the nature of both rodents, a hamster will tend to kill a guinea pig if possible.

However, this is not something easy for hamsters to do as guinea pigs are way bigger and have stronger bites. But still, guinea pigs mostly stay away from trouble. 

If by chance both rodents are placed together, hamsters can get pretty aggressive and attack a guinea pig. However, in the process of defending themselves, guinea pigs would normally bite. 

Moreover, for a bigger rodent with bigger teeth, guinea pigs’ bites could be stronger and sometimes fatal for the tiny hammies. Hamsters are more violent and can mostly injure a guinea pig in a fight, but they can get killed in the process.

Can You Put a Hamster and Guinea Pig Together?

A big NO! Hamsters won’t be comfortable around one another not to talk of putting a guinea pig with them. So, hamsters are better and comfortable alone in their cages. 

Instead, put your guinea pigs with each other. They love it that way! Also, if you want to own both a hamster and a guinea pig, let them have separate cages.

Are Guinea Pigs Smarter than Hamsters?

Yes, they are! Guinea pigs aren’t just pretty smart but are among the smartest rodents. They do well in responding to some simple instructions and are very clever at learning a few tricks. Training them wouldn’t be hard to do as they have good memories.

On the other hand, training hamsters is quite hard as their memory span is short. Their grey matter is very small compared to that of guinea pigs. From this, it’s clear that guinea pigs are smarter.

Recommended Reading: Are Guinea Pigs Smart?

Final Thoughts

In summary, guinea pigs are related to hamsters. However, these cute creatures are different in many ways. An easy way to tell the difference between the two is their size. Hamsters are way smaller than guinea pigs.

Hamsters sleep more and during day time but guinea pigs take short naps any time of the day. However, if you spot a rodent running in the wheel, it’s definitely not your guinea pigs!

The choice of the better pet depends on your preference. If you find this article helpful, don’t forget to share it!


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