Hamsters and guinea pigs are both rodents, but in term of character and requirements they are very different creatures. Deciding which one to bring home as a pet requires careful thought. Here are some of the most important things you need to consider:
- How much space do you have?
- Can you commit to looking after a pet for more than five years?
- How much do you want to spend on your pet?
- Can you keep more than one animal?
- Do you have any other pets?
Choosing a pet requires thought and planning
- Hamster basics: They are small and demand a much smaller space in your home than guinea pigs - and a lot less food too. A pet hamster will only be with you for two or three years, but in that time will become very attached to its owner. They need a suitable enclosure, such as the Qute cage, regular feeding, and a wheel or exercise ball for plenty of physical activity and stimulation. They need to be kept on their own, so they need attention from their owners. They are active in the evening, night, and early morning, as they are nocturnal.
- Guinea pig basics:: They require lots of daily care, and are a bit on the timid side, but they make great pets. They suit adults and older children more than younger children (under 10). They can live seven years or more, so it’s a longer commitment than with a hamster. You will need a garden hutch and a run, and ideally some tunnels too. Guinea pigs are kept in pairs or larger groups, and need plenty of fresh vegetables every day.
Guinea pigs have different needs to Hamsters. You'll need to commit to a pet for its entire life - so have a good think beforehand!
- Neither hamsters nor guinea pigs will enjoy the company of larger pets such as cats and dogs. The larger animals may only want to play, but that doesn’t alter the fact that the rodents will be terrified, and can be easily hurt by the paws and claws. Even the simple passive act of a cat or dog staring through the cage will cause your hamster or guinea pig a lot of stress. So, it’s best to either stick to the cats and dogs, or make sure the larger animals can’t access the outside of the rodents’ cage or run.
- If you want a pet for a child, hamsters and guinea pigs are not the best choice. Guinea pigs are nervous and need lots of cleaning out and feeding, while hamsters are nocturnal and tend not to be around when your kids are, as a result. Mice and rats are good options for kids, but young children should not be allowed to hold ANY small rodent. They tend to hold too tight, which can damage the fragile little animal, or they may drop it on the floor. In the case of mice and rats, there is a danger that they might then slip away before you can catch them. Also, in general, a child should not be given the main responsibility for looking after a pet, even if it was bought specifically for them. Looking after the pet should be looked upon as a family responsibility.