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Can Hamsters and Guinea Pigs Live Together? Is It Advisable?

Nicole Cosgrove

Raising hamsters and guinea pigs is fun and rewarding. These furballs are gentle, cute, and easy to care for. However, these rodents don’t get along well when placed in the same cage, in part because hamsters are solitary animals. So, the quick answer is, no, hamsters and guinea pigs cannot live together—definitely not in the same cage. But is it advisable?

If you are short on space in your home, or if you just want your two pets not to be bored on their own, you may be tempted to have them cohabit in the same cage. However, DON’T DO IT. These two species have very different temperaments; cohabitation is therefore not recommended at all.

In this article, you will learn the reasons that make this cohabitation difficult, as well as the other species that your rodents can cohabit with.

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What Are the Main Differences Between a Hamster and a Guinea Pig?

guinea pigs drinking
Image Credit: Karisa Studdard, Pixy.org

These plump and cute rodents belong to entirely different species. This is why their physical appearance and temperament are so different.

Despite its name, the guinea pig has nothing to do with pigs and does not come from India. This fluffy rodent of the genus Cavia is native to South America, formerly known as the Indies, where it is still raised for its flesh.

The hamster, from the Cricetidae family, is found all over the world. There are over 550 species, of which only five are domesticated (golden hamster, Roborovski hamster, Chinese hamster, Campbell hamster, and Russian hamster).

Both animals feed primarily on leaves, fruits, vegetables, and roots. The hamster will prefer seeds, and it can store food, unlike the guinea pig, which must feed constantly. The latter must absolutely be supplied with vitamin C, which it is unable to store. The hamster has cheekbones in which it holds and transports food.

Hamster vs Guinea Pig: How to Easily Recognize Them

The guinea pig

guinea pig
Image Credit: Piqsels

is much bigger than the hamster: it measures between 8 and 10 inches and weighs 1.5 to 2.6 lbs. Tailless and short on legs, it has a short or long coat depending on the species, with very varied colors. Its life expectancy is between four and seven years.

The hamster

hamster
Image Credit: SgH, Pixabay

lives between two and three years. It has a small tail, and its size varies greatly depending on the species. The smallest, the pygmy shrew, weighs only five grams, while the capybara can weigh up to 154 lbs. The golden hamster is the largest among the domesticated species.

Hamster vs Guinea Pig: A Different Temperament

a hamster on countertop
Image Credit: Free-Photos, Pixabay

 

The guinea pig is a super friendly animal that likes to live in groups. It can even get depressed if it is left alone too often. Therefore, the best is to raise it in a small group and take care of it frequently.

Conversely, the hamster will not stand to live with a roommate. Very active, especially at night, it needs to spend its energy. It does not like to be petted and may even be aggressive and bite if it feels threatened. Also, note that the hamster hibernates; don’t worry if, in winter, your pet becomes sluggish and doesn’t want to play or eat!

Cohabitation Between Guinea Pig and Other Animals

Guinea pig
Image Credit: Miroslav Hlavko, Shutterstock

With some animals, the guinea pig may befriend each other, while with other pets, caution is required since they may not even get along at all. Here are some examples of friendships that can develop with a guinea pig and other animals.

Rabbit and Guinea Pig Cohabitation

In general, guinea pigs get along well with rabbits. The rabbit protects his friend, lies down next to him, gives him kisses. However, your rabbit may suddenly lose his temper and start biting your guinea pig without warning. This is due to the rabbit’s temperament and that the guinea pig sometimes tends to be too clingy, which can annoy your rabbit.

guinea pig eating rabbit food
Image Credit: mujijoa79, Shutterstock

Cat and Guinea Pig Cohabitation

Due to its size, the cat initially considers the guinea pig to be prey. He could give it a scratch and seriously injure it. But when raised together from a young age, cats and guinea pigs get along pretty well. However, guinea pigs kept on a balcony or in the yard should always be protected from cats, as seeing them running around can trigger the cat’s hunting instincts.

guinea pig and cat
Image Credit: Vera Tretyakova, Shutterstock

Dog and Guinea Pig Cohabitation

If you already have a dog, you need to get him used to his new companion. If both animals are still young, this shouldn’t be a problem.

If your dog has been a lifelong companion, he shouldn’t have any reason to be jealous. Shepherd dogs get along exceptionally well with guinea pigs.

guinea pig and dog
Image Credit: Kendal Anderson, Shutterstock

Mouse or Rat and Guinea Pig Cohabitation

It is possible to raise and keep a rat or mouse with a guinea pig. For mice, however, the cage must be closed from above because they risk escaping through it.

Can Hamsters Cohabit Together?

Golden Hamster
Image Credit: 1267434, Pixabay

Since we’ve established that hamsters and guinea pigs shouldn’t be kept together in the same cage, you might be wondering if hamsters can live with the same species mate. Well, it depends.

Cohabitation is not easy with hamsters. These furballs tend to want to fight with each other. If you want more than one hamster in a cage, you must proceed in stages. And although most hamsters prefer to live alone, some species (like dwarf hamsters) do manage to enjoy life with other congeners if each has its own space. But always be careful; you can never know for sure that everything will be fine in the long-term.

Another tip is to make these little animals live together from an early age. If, for example, two hamsters from the same litter have grown up together, they will be able to share their territory without too many conflicts.

But if you haven’t been able to get hamsters from the same litter, avoid having animals over six weeks old, the age at which rivalries begin to develop.

How To Facilitate Cohabitation Between Hamsters

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Image Credit: FUN FUN PHOTO, Shutterstock

If you plan to keep your hamsters in the same cage, you must follow specific rules to avoid injuries and fights:

  • Provide a cage big enough. A large cage will avoid many problems, and if one hamster’s mood changes, the other can go and hide in their corner.
  • Check the sex of hamsters. It is better to have hamsters of the same sex cohabit. Otherwise, you risk having tons of fluffy babies over time!
  • Put their food in different places. To prevent the animals from fighting over food, provide each of them with a bowl and a water bottle.
  • Watch their behavior closely. Even if they get along well at first, hamsters can end up fighting and becoming irritable overnight (even after several months of living together). In this case, act without delay by isolating the disruptor.

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Final Thoughts

In short, it is possible to have several hamsters cohabit when you know how to do it effectively. But in the event of repeated fighting, you MUST intervene immediately. You obviously don’t want your fluffy babies to be hurt or even worse.

On the other hand, if you want your guinea pig to thrive and not be all alone in its cage, consider finding another friend for it, either of the same species or the other species described above. At least at the beginning of the cohabitation, observe them carefully to make sure they develop a lasting friendship without fights.


Featured Image Credit: Pixabay

Nicole Cosgrove

Nicole is the proud mom of Baby, a Burmese cat and Rosa, a New Zealand Huntaway. A Canadian expat, Nicole now lives on a lush forest property with her Kiwi husband in New Zealand. She has a strong love for all animals of all shapes and sizes (and particularly loves a good interspecies friendship) and wants to share her animal knowledge and other experts' knowledge with pet lovers across the globe.