Guinea pigs and hamsters do look surprisingly alike but did you know that they don’t even come from the same family of species? Well, they do come from the same order of Rodentia, as both animals are classified as rodents. Other similarities that bring guinea pigs and hamsters together are some dental characteristics, as both species have sharp and constantly developing teeth. Also, both hamsters and guinea pigs are nocturnal animals, meaning they are more active during the night.
However, despite the few similarities, there exist many differences that set a hamster apart from a guinea pig and vice versa.
A guinea pig, scientifically known as Cavia Porcellus, is considered a rodent without a tail, while hamsters, known as Cricetus Cricetus in Latin, are short-tailed rodents.
Perhaps one of the most foundational differences between these two rodents is their classification. Guinea pigs are classified as herbivorous animals, meaning they are plant eaters, while hamsters are omnivorous, and hence they feed on both meat and veggies alike.
In terms of species, there are a lot more kinds of hamster species than those of guinea pigs. But most of us are familiar with the Golden Hamster which happens to be the most popular pet hamster because of its unique appearance.
These two species significantly differ in size, as guinea pigs are larger than hamsters. They measure 8 to 12 inches in length, while hamsters are only 5 to 6 inches long. The difference in size is also the reason why guinea pigs are a bit more pricey than hamsters.
These two cute species also differ in the number of offsprings. Hamster’s offsprings are referred to as pups, and they are usually born without sight or hair, as they develop those later on. On the other hand, guinea pig’s offsprings are called piglets, and they do have sight once born. While hamsters give birth to an average 6 to 12 pups at once, guinea pigs can give birth to only 2 to 4 piglets.
However, in some rare cases, you might see a hamster giving birth to up to 20 pups and a guinea pig delivering up to 8 piglets.
When it comes to owning these two animals, both are very fun to have around. It is important to mention that guinea pigs definitely need more attention than hamsters. In fact, guinea pigs are a lot more sociable as well. They strive for constant interaction with both humans and fellow animals. They are also more playful and willing to spend time with you, which is why people consider them to be more fun than hamsters.
While hamsters can seek attention at times, they are a lot more independent, and at times they can even get aggressive. If they are surrounded by other hamsters, they can easily get into fights, especially if they are battling over food.
The life expectancy of these two animals is also different. Unfortunately, hamsters only live for about two or three years, which is a very short lifespan. On the other hand, guinea pigs can live slightly longer, up to five to seven years. These differences are also the reason why guinea pigs are more expensive.
The thing that strikes most people’s mind while considering getting a hamster or a guinea pig is the noise these animals produce.
Naturally, just like any animal, both hamsters and guinea pigs do make some noise from time to time. The question is, which animal is louder?
In this aspect, we can confidently say that hamsters are less noisy than guinea pigs. However, both species do make noises.
Guinea pigs are known for making squeaky noises all the time while hamsters are a lot quieter in that regard. However, as nocturnal animals, hamsters are most likely to become obsessed with riding their hamster wheel during the night, which will create a lot of noise while you’re trying to sleep. This is something you should keep in mind if you’re planning to adopt any of these animals and, if you don’t have a room where you could keep a hamster overnight, you should think twice before getting it, as having it sleep in your bedroom might not be the best idea.
Overall, guinea pigs and hamsters are two quite similar rodents, but they are classified entirely distinctly, as there are many physical and behavioral differences that separate the two species. Either way, they are both fun and immensely adorable pets owing to their plump bodies and fluffy fur.