Hamsters vs. Guinea Pigs

Hamsters are smaller and cuter, but are more apt to bite. Guinea Pigs on the other hand, have a cute way of communicating with you. They make a variety of sounds depending on their mood. They will greet their owner with cheerful sounds as they anticipate treats.

Question: Which is a better pet for a 8 year old child, a Hamster, or a Guinea Pig?

Answer: Generally I do not believe any pet is good for a child. It is the parent who undertakes the commitment to buy a pet and it is them who should also take the responsibility for its on going care should the child tire of the responsibility. It is entirely unfair to an animal to be discarded because of a child’s’ inability to care for a it. Unfortunately this is a common occurrence.

As far as comparisons go, I find Guinea Pigs may be the better choice of the two. Hamsters are smaller and cuter, but are more apt to bite. Hamsters are also nocturnal so may keep family members awake at night as they do chew on bars and play on their wheels, or dig in the corner of their cage. Guinea Pigs on the other hand, have a cute way of communicating with you. They make a variety of sounds depending on their mood. They will greet their owner with cheerful sounds as they anticipate treats.

Leashed guinea pig.JPG

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Being larger, Guinea Pigs have bigger space requirements, and are a longer time commitment. Where hamsters may live only 2-5 years, a Guinea Pig will live 5-8 years. Guinea Pigs can be harness trained, as in the photo above. 

With either one selection of a friendly animal is always important. When you go to purchase a pet, if the handler is using gloves to pick them up, you probably do not want to trust it with your child. Typically animals from pet stores are not use to being handled, they come from massive breeders and have never been touched before being shipped to the pet store.

Many times hamsters and Guinea Pigs are taken to the SPCA for adoption, sometimes simply because people are moving and cannot take their pet with them, these animals are usually more affordable, and tame. Sometimes shelter pets even come with their own cages.


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An alternative to both hamsters or guinea pigs is to get a rabbit. Rabbits come in all sorts of sizes, from dwarf bunnies to the larger ones who are often used as meat animals, but make good pets too, if you have space. The one advantage of a rabbit is that their food is slightly cheaper than Guinea Pig food, and they tend to be quieter and like being held a bit more than Guinea Pigs.

The choice is up to you. Do more research including taking your child to a store or shelter and having him, or her, visit the pets in question.

Please remember, unless you are willing to care for the animal for its lifetime, do not expect your child to do the same, no matter how much they beg you, or what promises they make.

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User Comments
  1. ken bultman

    On May 24, 2009 at 5:01 am

    Very good advice regarding who ends up being care-giver. All of the suggested pets in the article are prey animals so watch the cats and dogs.

  2. martie

    On May 24, 2009 at 5:41 am

    Very nice article. I agree right down the line. When my kids were small rabbits were also much easier for them to handle, and some of the small ones aren’t much bigger than guinea pigs.

  3. Lostash

    On May 24, 2009 at 9:02 am

    I’ll take a rabbit any day over these two!! Had all three over the years. Nice article.

  4. Darla Beck

    On May 24, 2009 at 9:41 am

    I believe my choice would be a rabbit over the other two.

  5. Daisy Peasblossom

    On May 24, 2009 at 12:32 pm

    Excellent article. I’ve had hamsters, guinea pigs, gerbils, rabbits and fish over the years. Frankly, I prefer cats. My daughter had a rat for a while–he was quite a personable fellow. Good point about parents taking responsibility.

  6. Joie Schmidt

    On May 24, 2009 at 4:59 pm

    This is a really good comparison article – - it would be hard though either way because both don’t live very long *:(



    -Liane Schmidt.

  7. PR Mace

    On May 24, 2009 at 8:18 pm

    Excellent hook for the article. I agree that no animal is best for a child because the parents take care of them. We have both our daughters dogs. She had to have a new puppy as a teen and her boyfriend gave her a dog. Well they are our Kole and Katie. We love them dearly and would never part with them but Craig and I did not want big dogs at this stage of our lives. I really got off point, sorry. This was a well done article.

  8. Ruby Hawk

    On May 24, 2009 at 9:14 pm

    Mom and dad had best be ready to take care of the pet when they agree for a young child to have one. An older child should be required to care for their pet themselves.

  9. Jan Daniel

    On May 24, 2009 at 10:07 pm

    My friend has recently lost her 6 year old guinea pig called Patch. She is very distressed at present and I can understand the heartache she must be going through because I have lost several of my pets over the years. Very good article.

  10. Mr Ghaz

    On May 24, 2009 at 10:47 pm

    Great post!! very interesting story..my family liked hamster 2 mch..thanks for this lovely piece.

  11. lowellpendon

    On June 3, 2009 at 10:23 pm

    i have both at my house, i just simply love them.

  12. Bob Craypoe

    On August 1, 2009 at 7:22 am

    I don’t know how many times I have seen a parent get a child a pet and ended up being the one taking care of it. It seems to me that it should just be taken for granted that the parent will be the one feeding it and cleaning the cage. If you, as the parent, aren’t up to it, don’t get a pet. There are some exceptions where the child will actually be more responsible but that’s more an exception than the rule.

  13. Laura

    On August 23, 2009 at 6:46 pm

    A guinea pig should not be on a leash! Go to guineapigcages.com
    Has valuable information that this site does not have!

  14. Nadia Vella

    On April 13, 2010 at 3:00 pm

    Love hamsters :) ))

  15. Regina Castle

    On October 28, 2010 at 11:52 am

    Hamsters and gunie pigs are okay but I prefer a rabbit as well. This was a nice article thanks for sharing..

  16. paige

    On April 22, 2011 at 11:29 am

    i love my guinea pig. ive been looking for a way to walk him around now that its warming up outside so he has space to enjoy the sun. any ideas?

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