You might wonder if your furry hamster can live with a friendly guinea pig. After all, they’re both rodents, and they might just get along, right ?
As it turns out, guinea pigs and hamsters are very different animals, and housing them together is a delicate subject. Here’s the answer to what you were looking for. If you want a more detailed comparison between a hamster and a guinea pig, you should read this article.
So can a hamster live with a guinea pig ?
No. Hamsters can’t and shouldn’t live together with guinea pigs. Not because there is something wrong with guinea pigs.
But because of a major difference in personality, how they react to strangers. One is fiercely territorial, while the other can live in a large group.
And incredibly important, one sleeps the day away, while the other takes short naps throughout the 24 hours. They will inevitably annoy the hell out of each other.
So if you ever mix a hamster and a guinea pig in the same cage, or even just during playtime, things will go bad. Very very fast, and you’ll need to be quick to separate the two.
To really understand why these two furballs should be kept separate, we need to look at their personalities, cage requirements. and even playtime.
About the hamster’s personality
A hamster is a very territorial, solitary animal. Even the hamster breeds that can live together in pairs – more on that here – can end up fighting to the death.
This is the reason I’d recommend keeping all hamsters separate, not just the Syrians or Chinese.
Hamsters like having their own space, their own food, and keeping away from other animals. A hamster will mark things as his own with his scent glands.
He will try to be the dominant one in any setting, and hamsters housed together can end up bullying one another.
You might argue that your two Dwarf hammies get along just great. They might, but because they were introduced as babies, and grew up together.
They grew up of the same size, species, and scent profile. They have the same type of reactions, and will know how to read one another properly.
A guinea pig is much bigger, smells different, and acts different.
A hamster will be jumpy and scared most of his youth, while he learns the new sights, smells, and sounds in your home. He’ll even get scared of you walking past his cage when he’s in his first few weeks. A scared hamster is unpredictable, and is very likely to nip.
There’s a lot more to hamsters than just what I said here. You should check out this article, on what it’s like to own a hamster and why they can be good pets (also a few cons of owning a hammy).
And this article here, to understand the difference between the two main types of hamsters, and thus the general disposition of hamsters.
While there are differences between hamsters, they are roughly the same. You need to know both hamsters and guinea pigs well before you even think of housing them together.
About the guinea pig’s personality
A guinea pig is a very social animal, and a great starter pet. They’re more docile than a puppy, but still show some personality so you learn that pets are their own beings and you need to do some things their way.
That being said, guinea pigs don’t do well on their own, unless you’re always there to play with them and cuddle them. In nearly every case it’s best to get your guinea pig a buddy so they can keep each other company.
A guinea pig is easy enough to tame, since it will react well to new sights and people. Still, some care should be taken, since they’re not immediately friendly like a puppy, or curious like a kitten.
Guinea pigs will generally flee if they sense any danger, and won’t really bite unless in some extreme cases of self defense. And they’re not terribly territorial.
However problems will arise when the hamster gets scared or annoyed by the pig, and will bite in retaliation. While hamsters are small, their jaws a powerful, and will injure the guinea pig.
Think of the guinea pig as a gentle giant, who lets things slide for the most part. Very hard to anger, but once he is irritated, his teeth and jaws are much stronger than a hamster’s.
The small piggy can only keep its patience for so long, and will eventually bite back. Given the sheer size difference between a guinea pig and a hamster, it won’t go well.
You will end up with an injured, irritable guinea pig, and a dead hamster.
Cage size for guinea pigs, and hamsters
A single Syrian hamster can live in a cage the size of 24 x 12 inches, and about 12 inches tall. That’s 61 x 30.5 cm, and about 30.5 cm tall.
A Dwarf would need half that size, but I honestly recommend getting your hamster a very large cage, since he’ll feel much more comfortable with lots of space to run around.
A guinea pig, on the other hand, needs 30 x 36 inches/ 76 x 91 cm cage. That is the absolute minimum, for just one guinea pig. The more piggies your have, you’ll have to almost double that size. As with the hamster, a larger cage is better.
Alright, you might argue that you’ve got an incredibly large cage, big enough for both the piggy and the hamster. Fair enough, let’s look at how both animals keep their territory.
A guinea pig will share his home with his partner, or the other 234 piggies it lives with. A guinea pig is a very social, herd animal.
A hamster will attack anything that comes into his territory, and lives alone. He makes regular rounds of the space he owns, and will jump any creature stumbles upon. While the guinea pig will turn away, the hammy will chase him and eventually bite.
Another thing to keep in mind is that hamsters are incredibly sensitive to smell, and very much love their routine. They need things to be in the same place, smelling of their scent, and nothing alien.
A guinea pig wandering the cage will throw off the hammy’s routine, and become a nuisance without even trying.
Finally, guinea pigs will get bored with the same setup, and move their herd from one hideout to another. The hamster will disagree with this.
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Difference between playtime with guinea pigs and hamsters
What about the playtime between hamsters and guinea pigs ? Well, they both love to exercise, so they’ve got that in common.
While the piggy won’t use the hamster’s wheel to run, he’ll use the entire cage for a quick sprint. And he will bump into the hammy’s wheel, or hideout or any other objects. This won’t sit well with the hamster.
And finally with the playing and handling, the hamster can’t sit still for very long. But a guinea pig will stay put for longer, and come back with your scent.
This will produce mixed feelings in the hamster, who is again a very smell-sensitive animal.
So generally most interactions between the two don’t go too well, largely due to the hamster’s need for solitude.
While hamsters will only come out and play in the evening and most of the night, a guinea pig is different. A guinea pig sleeps in patches throughout the day, and will generally follow the owner’s routine.
A hamster on the other hand will sleep the day away, and only wake up in the evening, which will produce large amounts of stress. The hammy won’t rest well, since the piggy is running around the cage and the sounds will keep the hamster on alert.
And when the guinea pig would take a short nap, the hammy could possibly stumble upon it (curious as hamsters are, but also silly and a bit thick). Which will not end up well, again.
Food fights, and other habits your two rodent will argue over
Alright, let’s cover the difference between foods, since this is a major problem. Hamsters are omnivores, so they eat anything from meat to grains and veggies, to fruits.
In certain proportions, and they prefer grains for the most part. You can find out more about that here.
A guinea pig on the other hand will need food based on veggies, Timothy hay, and lots of vitamin C.
If you mix their food, or even if you put the food separately, there’s not telling who is going to eat whose food. Neither the hamster or the piggy will know the food is for the other one, and they will end up fighting over it.
This is a serious issue with Dwarf hammies who live together and can lead to fatal injuries. Let alone a large guinea pig fighting a small hamster.
Also take into account that hamsters live far less than guinea pigs. A hamster can live as long as 2-4 years, while a guinea pig can reach 7 years. An old hamster will probably become blind in his final weeks or months, and find it more difficult to navigate his cage.
Normally hamsters memorize their cages and where to find everything, so they can do just fine without their eyesight. But stumbling upon the piggy, while blind, is bound to scare them.
The hammy will be scared even if he’s alone in his cage and you don’t talk to him enough before coming close, when he’s blind.
So to sum everything up, and give you a rounded answer:
Hamsters and guinea pigs can’t live together. The hamster prefers to be alone and will consider the piggy an intruder, even if they’re introduced as babies.
Best to keep them separate, and make sure they don’t even meet. You’ll save yourself and the two animals a lot of literal pain and heartache.
A word from Teddy
I hope you found what you were looking for here. I know us hammies seem like we could use a buddy, but we’re fine on our own. We like it that way, and won’t take kindly to other animals. Nothing personal, that’s just us being hamsters, is all.
If you want to know more about us hammies, you should definitely check out the articles below to find out how to care for us properly, and keep us happy.