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Should I Get A Gerbil Or A Guinea Pig?

Gerbils and guinea pigs are both rodents, but they are very different animals with very different needs. Below we’ve listed some of the differences between these species, as well as some of the similarities. Neither of these animals are suitable pets for children under the age of ten or eleven, and even owners over that age will require supervision by an adult when handling the pets.

gerbil or guinea pig
Gerbils and guinea pigs have very different requirements as pets


  • Both species need to be kept in a safe, quiet area free from disturbance by other animals. They become stressed if kept in areas with, for example, cats, dogs, or ferrets.

  • Both gerbils and guinea pigs need to be kept in an enclosure with members of their own species. You will sometimes see guinea pigs mixing with rabbits in zoos, but a single guinea pig will become stressed if he or she has no fellow guinea pigs to hang around with.

  • Both species need a high quality dry food, with regular fresh food - although guineas need more of the fresh stuff than their smaller cousins the gerbils. Dry food is still the basis of their diet, though, giving them the different vitamins and minerals they need for a healthy life.

  • Both species need plenty of bedding material for sleeping, nesting, and - in the case of gerbils - burrowing and tunnelling.


  • Guinea pigs need a run - i.e. a large, flat area to run around in. They need a hutch and a run, otherwise they will not get enough exercise. They are much larger than gerbils, and not as fast and agile.

  • Gerbils need more vertical space than guinea pigs. This must be filled with bedding so that they can satisfy their strong urge to tunnel and dig. Guinea pigs enjoy a bit of tunnelling, but don’t need very very deep bedding to do this. A good layer of hay will do them just fine.

  • Guinea pigs need plenty of fresh veg and fruit every day. They can suffer vitamin C deficiency, and other nutritional deficiencies, without fresh food.

  • Guinea pigs can be kept outdoors, as long as it's not too cold. Read our Guinea Pig Guide for more information on where and how to keep guinea pigs.

Customer Images


Sheba, 3 August 2023

I love my gerbils, they are a bit loud at night and chew a lot, but they make great friends and pets!

Nathan, 2 November 2018

guinea pigs are more friendly. as gerbils bit a lot guinea pigs don't bite and are more child friendly. guinea pigs are bigger and way easier to handle. gerbils normally live for2-3 year while guinea pigs live from 5-8 years

Logan, 24 April 2018

Gerbils are good pets for children because they are very lovable pets and love to be held and most children like to hold there pet hamsters tend to night a lot so I would rather gerbil guinea pigs only cost more and are more respondsibility so a gerbil is a better pet for a kid

Emma, 24 May 2017

If I'm not to late you should get a gerbil because I have experience with Guinea pigs and they make a lot of noice when you trying to sleep. I'm getting a gerbil they sleep at night and won't make noise, so if you want your beauty sleep than I'd get a gerbil