Gerbil vs Hamster vs Guinea Pig: Which One is The Best

Pets are the answer to your loneliness. And in the case of your self-analysis, they are silent and active listeners too. To have such an assistive friend, many people prioritize rodents over cats and dogs due to the reasons below.

  • Rodents require less space
  • They are low-maintenance
  • More than innocent and damn cute

If you are one of them going for a rodent, surely you will face a challenge to resolve the puzzle of gerbil vs hamster vs guinea pig. Among these three, the basic differential context is size: guinea pigs are larger compared to hamsters and gerbils. In addition, gerbils have longer tails than hamsters.

To assist you in the selection process, we’ve compared these pets’ in detail: specifications, advantages, disadvantages, care needed, maintenance costs, etc.

Let’s explore and get the right one today!

Gerbil vs Hamster vs Guinea Pig

Below is the differential context of gerbil vs hamster vs guinea pig.

CriteriaGerbilHamsterGuinea Pig
Size6 inches to 12 inches2.25 inches to 12.2 inches8–10 inches
Food HabitOmnivorousOmnivorousHerbivores
Friendliness to KidsModeratedPoorHigher
Monthly Expenditures$40-$100$50-$130$40-$60

Gerbil vs Hamster vs Guinea Pig: The Difference

Now that you know their core difference, let’s look into each of them in detail!

1. Gerbils

If you cannot afford a lot of time to take care of your pet, a gerbil is a good solution. Also, it can be a good present for your toddler, who has little or no experience dealing with pets.


Core Information

Below are some crucial pieces of information you should know about gerbils before making a decision.

  • Gerbils are also known as desert rats
  • The size ranges from 6 inches to 12 inches
  • The average weight is 71 grams
  • Gerbils are omnivorous, eating both plants and meat
  • Gerbils, in general, live 3-5 years. The fat-tailed gerbil (Pachyuromys duprasi) lives 5-7 years

Best Practices for Petting a Gerbil

Below are some essential practices for pet gerbil care. Check whether you can do them or not:

Best Practices for Petting a Gerbil
  • You have to arrange a cage of 410 square inches with a minimum height of 12 inches. And the required bedding size is 6.2 inches
  • The ideal cage material is glass; hard plastic is another good option. And the cage should have a lid (be careful when choosing a lid; it should not fall inside the cage under any circumstances or the pet will die)
  • The cage has to be equipped with exercise equipment and toys
  • Cleaning the pet will test your patience, as there are lots of corners and folds (between fingers, between joints, etc.) that you have to clean one by one
  • You must clean the cage daily to remove the poop and food waste, change the water, restore the interior’s arrangement, etc.
  • They are fond of leaves, bulbs, seeds, etc. You can also feed them fresh vegetables (broccoli, carrots, etc.), bananas, nuts, apples, grapes, hay, and so on. Again, you can feed them live insects as well. Please remember to provide just one spoon of food at a time
  • You should give food twice a day
  • It is not good to disturb a sleeping gerbil
  • You must talk very softly to it
  • If you go for two, make sure both are the same gender
  • Above all, maintaining a quiet and peaceful environment is essential

Check the YouTube link to know the procedure of gerbil petting:


The below-listed advantages can help you decide whether to pet a gerbil.

  • Gerbils are friendly to humans, and they are also considered social animals. It is very rare that a gerbil bites its owner, which makes it highly suitable for kids
  • Obviously, it is very low-maintenance
  • Gerbils are happy to pass weeks inside the cage
  • Nearly zero smell
  • It is fun to watch their performances (playing or exercising)
  • Petting a gerbil allows you to experience an emotional connection
  • It teaches you how to care
Gerbils Advantages


Well, in our lives, nothing comes without issues (problems! ), and petting a gerbil also has such.

  • Gerbils are not fond of cuddling. Unlike dogs and cats, you cannot expect cuddling to express your affection
  • They are escape artists and very messy. This behavior will compel you to renovate (organize or reorganize) the cage interiors on a regular basis
  • Surly, you have to visit the vet every month
  • If you also have a cat in the house, you should not get a gerbil

2. Hamsters

If you feel lonely at night, a hamster is a good pet for you. Unlike gerbils, hamsters used to sleep during the day and become naughty at night. Let’s explore the possibilities of petting a hamster.


Core Information

Below is the basic dataset for this rodent family member.

  • Most people like a Syrian hamster as a pet
  • Depending on its origin (Serbian, Chinese, Syrian, Russian, etc.), the length ranges from 2.25 inches to 12.2 inches
  • In general, the weight ranges from 25 to 275 grams
  • Hamsters are omnivorous, eating plants and meat
  • Typically, hamsters’ lifespan is 2–3 years

Best Practices for Petting a Hamster

To pet a hamster, you must meet the following requirements:

Best Practices for Petting a Hamster
  • The cage size requirement is 24 inches by 12 inches by 12 inches (LXWXH), and you should go for thick plastic in the case of cage material selection
  • The cage has to be equipped with exercise equipment and toys
  • Hamsters are omnivorous. They are fond of leaves, bulbs, seeds, etc. You need to ensure a fresh food supply. 
  • Also, to meet the nutrition requirement, you have to buy specialized factory-produced foods (which cost money). It should be mentioned here that feeding your hamster will be challenging in terms of preparation and food type selection
  • You have to provide food twice a day
  • Weekly cleaning of the cage and bedding is essential
  • You need to check whether it is getting enough exercise or not. If not, you have to intervene in its exercise. Overweight hamsters usually face major health issues
  • Finally, you must ensure that the pet does not chew on cage-inside items


The points below are designated to help you prioritize hamsters as your pet.

  • First of all, hamsters are super cute and entertaining
  • It can be your mate on those lonely nights
  • Moderated maintenance
  • Easy to clean as they take care of their own grooming
  • Petting a hamster doesn’t require providing lots of attention; they are used to being happy by themselves
Hamster Advantages


You must consider the following issues before petting a hamster:

  • Not suitable for kids. Inappropriate handling by kids can kill it. In addition, depending on its mood and the pressure it receives while being held, a hamster can bite
  • Hamsters eat their poop; you may find it irritating (if you are very sensitive)
  • Hamsters cannot bear a little amount of stress (changes in the surrounding environment, sensing new people’s presence, etc.) and eventually become dead
  • Your hamster may carry viruses that are harmful to humans, such as lymphocytic choriomeningitis

3. Guinea Pigs

Guinea pigs are also another popular pet in the rodent family. People used to prefer petting a guinea pig for its greater lifespan than a gerbil or a hamster.

Guinea Pigs

Okay, let’s check how suitable it is for you.

Core Information

The following are some basic guinea pig facts:

  • Guinea pigs have long been human companions
  • The usual length of a guinea pig is 8–10 inches
  • The average weight ranges from 680 grams to 1250 grams
  • Guinea pigs cannot eat meat
  • The average lifespan is 4–8 years

Best Practices for Petting a Guinea Pig

If you want to pet a guinea pig, you must be able to meet the following requirements:

Best Practices for Petting a Guinea Pig
  • The cage dimensions must be 36 inches by 30 inches by 12 inches (L x W x H)
  • You have to keep it away from small kids (below 5 years old)
  • As it receives degraded health conditions within the loud and uncomfortable surroundings, you must ensure a quiet and peaceful environment.
  • There is a significant initiation cost you should consider. The initiation costs include the purchase of a cage, exercise equipment and toys, dishes for food, a water bottle, bedding materials, etc.
  • You have to feed it twice a day
  • Daily spot cleaning is required


Below is a list of advantages in the case of petting a guinea pig.

  • Guinea pigs are very friendly to humans
  • Requires less food
  • Guinea pigs perform self-grooming
  • They love indoors
  • Their curious activities always amaze their owners
Guinea Pig Advantages


Are you thinking about getting a pet guinea pig? You should be concerned about the following issues.

“If you’re interested in learning more about small animals, you may want to check out our article on hamster vs rats, as well as our article on male vs female hamster. Our article on hamster vs rats discusses the similarities and differences between these two common household pets in terms of their behavior, care requirements, and suitability as pets. Meanwhile, our article on male vs female hamster examines the differences in behavior, temperament, and physical characteristics between these two genders of hamsters.


Here, we answer some common questions regarding the comparative context between gerbils, hamsters, and guinea pigs.

Q: Are a guinea pig and a gerbil the same thing?

No, they are not the same. Though some behavioral characteristics are the same, many other factors are quite different.

Q: Are guinea pigs just rats?

No. Guinea pigs belong to the rodent family, which is very much related to chinchillas but not rats.

Are guinea pigs just rats

Are gerbils good pets for 5 year olds?

Any kind of pet is not suitable for kids below 5 years old. However, you can allow the younger one to play with gerbils under adult supervision.

Are gerbils good pets for 5 year olds

Final Thoughts

Surely, now you have in-depth information regarding the context of gerbil vs hamster vs guinea pig. If you have a small kid in the house, we suggest you go for a gerbil or a guinea pig, as those are less likely to bite in an unpleasant condition (kids eventually fail to maintain proper handling technique).

A hamster, on the other hand, can be a good pet if you want to master animal petting and learn how to care for sensitive animals. 

Lisa G

Meet Lisa G, the founder and author of With over 3 years of experience studying and observing various species of rodents. Lisa has established herself as a credible expert in the field. Her passion for these often-overlooked animals shines through in her in-depth articles and engaging writing style. Follow her blog to learn fascinating facts and gain a new appreciation for the furry creatures that share our world.

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