What do you notice when you see a hamster and a guinea pig? Adorable fluffy animals that look harmless and friendly. But the simple answer to whether guinea pigs and hamsters can live together is no. They cannot live together.
Raising hamsters and guinea pigs is fun and easy, as gentle care and a little bit of attention are all they require for a happy life. Owning a guinea pig and a hamster can tempt their owner to keep them both in the same cage. Still, they have entirely different personalities, and their response to one another makes it impossible for them to get along.
Hamsters are territorial, solitary creatures that can get aggressive in the presence of other hamsters or animals. Guinea pigs prefer to live in groups since they are social animals, and while they would not have an issue with the hamster, the hamster can take things too far by engaging in a bitter fight with the guinea pig.
You might be tempted to keep the two fur balls in the same cage. After all, they are both rodents. But their cohabitation is strictly inadvisable. Let us look at their personalities in detail and what sets them apart from each other.
Guinea pigs are adorable creatures that can win your heart with their playful and affectionate nature. They are social animals and cannot be kept in solitude unless you are always present to cuddle and play with them.
Guinea pigs are easy to tame as their friendly nature allows them to react well to new people and surroundings. However, when irritated or scared, they resort to fleeing rather than biting in instances of danger and shock.
Guinea pigs are much bigger and have a longer life expectancy than hamsters. They are gentle and not vexed by the slightest events, but since their teeth and jaw are much stronger than hamsters, a duel between them can result in severe injuries to the hamster.
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Hamsters are solitary creatures that do not like sharing their bedding, food, or space with any animal, let alone another hamster. They have an instinct to dominate other nearby hamsters and mark their territory.
Some hamsters might get along when they are introduced to each other as babies, but separating them and giving them their cages as soon as they reach ten weeks is still highly recommended.
While guinea pigs like to rest regularly throughout the day, especially at night, hamsters exercise on their wheels or other toy equipment and are most active nocturnally.
Significant Differences Between Guinea Pigs and Hamsters
1. Social and Solitary
Guinea pigs like to be raised in small groups since they are social animals and get depressed if you leave them alone for extended periods. Hamsters cannot stand another animal in their territory and will fight to the death with them if aggravated.
Hamsters can hiss or hide in corners when confronted with a guinea pig. They can also become possessive of their space and attack the guinea pig due to their aggressive nature. They both like to bite when aggravated, resulting in either a dead hamster or an injured guinea pig.
2. Smell Difference
Hamsters might get along with other hamsters if they grew up together, which means they have the same scent and can recognize each other. Hamsters are very sensitive to smells and get comfortable in their cages or the new environment because it smells familiar. Using artificial scents in their presence can irritate your hamster, like air fresheners, scented oils, body lotions, and deodorants.
A guinea pig smells different, which is unbearable for the hamster as it indicates a different specie present in its surrounding. Guinea pigs like to mark their territory by rubbing their bodies against various surfaces, called scent marking, as they recognize their surroundings and other guinea pigs via their smell.
3. Difference in Agility
Hamsters take weeks to be tamed, and in the beginning, when they aren’t familiar with the new environment, they are likely to bite you by getting scared with the slightest movements. Guinea pigs are more likely to bite and injure a hamster if angered beyond their limits. Given the size difference between both species of rodents, it is better not to behold any duel between them.
Guinea pigs are usually obedient and sedentary, and the hostility of the hamsters will clash with their personality and result in a fight.
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4. Cage Requirements
Guinea pigs need bigger cages and live happily with their partners or other guinea pigs. Guinea pigs do not play by climbing or jumping, which means they require plenty of floor space to get their exercise. A hamster’s cage is many times smaller than a guinea pig’s cage.
The cage bars for a guinea pig must be spaced widely. Using such a cage when a hamster is cohabitating with the guinea pig, the former can easily escape through the wide set bars due to their small size.
5. Dominating Nature
Hamsters regularly inspect their entire territory to check whether other creatures have infiltrated it, indicating how possessive and irritable they will get if they find a guinea pig sharing their cage.
Guinea pigs and hamsters both require safe hiding places. Even when several guinea pigs live in the same space, the cage must be large enough to accommodate separate areas where they can escape for a quiet and secluded time.
Hamsters will likely attack any guinea pig they find lounging around in their cage.
6. Petting Preferences
Both hamsters and guinea pigs thrive on human love and attention, but a hamster takes longer to get comfortable around their owners than guinea pigs. A hamster might not like petting as much as a guinea pig and warm up to its owner, not for a very long time.
Hamsters like to live solitary lives and don’t crave companionship most of the time. On the other hand, guinea pigs enjoy getting frequent cuddles from their owners, which is another striking difference between their personalities.
7. Sleeping Patterns
Guinea pigs rest at night, while hamsters are nocturnal animals that are most active and run when the sun goes down. Guinea pigs are mostly awake during the day, so children and adults can play and spend time with them. Hamsters are not as willing as guinea pigs to play during the day.
Hamsters get annoyed and scared easily if woken up suddenly during the day. You can expect your guinea pigs to run and play around the cage and wake up an irritated hamster that can bite. Yet another reason to keep them both apart from each other.
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8. Noise Making
Guinea pigs make a unique sound called “wheeking,” which sounds like a high-pitched squeal or whistle. Wheeking is usually a happy noise directed towards humans when the guinea pig is excited to see their food or trying to get your attention. Such a loud sound from a small animal might be alarming for beginner pet owners. On the other hand, hamsters only make noise when running around in their cages or on hamster wheels.
9. Playing With One Another
Guinea pigs and hamsters might tolerate each other for a short while when they are both playing and engaged in hiding and seeking, playing with toy balls, or finding their way out of a maze.
Another similarity between guinea pigs and hamsters is getting attention and cuddles from humans. Still, such activities are not encouraged to perform when the guinea pig and hamster are in the vicinity of one another. Guinea pigs and hamsters do not have much in common and will likely injure each other in a fight.
10. Play Toys
Hamsters use their hamster wheels or hamster balls for their daily dose of exercise. On the other hand, Guinea pigs like to use the whole cage for a quick sprint. Given a guinea pig is much greater in size than a hamster, it is likely to bump into different things and disturb the contents of the cage, which can cause disarray in the hamster’s arrangement for his bedding and toys, thus irritating him even more.
11. Diet Requirements
Hamsters eat anything from meat, veggies, grains, and fruits. A guinea pig, however, prefers a diet based on Timothy hay and veggies and requires a significant amount of vitamin C.
Putting the food of guinea pigs and hamsters together will cause a dispute since both rodents will not know whose food they are eating. Hamsters are omnivores, and guinea pigs are strictly herbivores. Mixing their meals means inviting more trouble between the two.
Can guinea pigs and hamsters live together? No, they cannot live together.
Can hamsters and guinea pigs be housed in the same room? No.
Can hamsters and guinea pigs be housed in the same cage? Absolutely not!
The two rodents should be kept separately in any condition. Their personalities are miles apart, and it is better to keep them that way. Unnecessary interference in their natural lifestyle and forcing them to live with each other will only irritate or upset them.
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My name is Everly. I am a Milwaukee-based mom of 2 and have been a proud owner of many hamsters throughout my life. Like many of us, my introduction to hamsters happened when I was very young. My family saw several hamsters come and go through the years, and I enjoyed playing with them, but I never fully appreciated them until I grew up and my own children decided to jump on the hamster bandwagon. At that point, I was determined to learn all I could about caring for these adorable pets. Read more