A Comprehensive Guide to Choosing: Hedgehog vs Hamster

Are you ready to add a new furry friend to your family? With so many options available, it can be hard to choose the perfect pet. But don’t worry, you’ve got this! 

So how to choose between Hedgehog vs Hamster? Choosing a pet between a hedgehog and a hamster involves considering factors such as size, maintenance, and temperament. Hedgehogs are larger and require a specific diet and habitat, whereas hamsters are smaller and easier to care for, but more active. 

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll give you all the information you need to choose between a hedgehog and a hamster, two of the most popular small animal pets. So let’s dive in and explore what makes these two furry friends so special!

Choosing Between Hedgehog vs Hamster: Physical Characteristics

Let’s see the basic difference between a hedgehog and a hamster so we can see what’s best for you. Every animal has their own needs and physical characteristics differ too. 

Hedgehog vs Hamster

Here’s a table summarizing the physical characteristics of hedgehogs and hamsters:

SpeciesSizeWeightCoat and Spikes/ Coat and ColorLifespanColor/Tail
Hedgehogs20-30 cm, 15-20 cm in African pygmy400-600 g with 200-400 g in African pygmyDense fur with 1 cm spikes4 to 5 yearsBrown, grey, white, black, tan
Hamsters10-15 cm, 20 cm in Syrian100-150 g with 400 g in SyrianSoft, thick fur2 to 3 yearsBrown, gray, black, white, golden (with distinctive markings in the tail)

Physical Characteristics of Hedgehog


Hedgehogs are small, compact animals with an average length of 20-30 cm and the African pygmy hedgehog is the smallest species, reaching a length of only 15-20 cm.

Hedgehog size


The average Hedgehog weight is 400-600 grams, while the African pygmy hedgehog can weigh up to 200-400 grams

Coat and Spikes

Hedgehogs are covered in a dense coat of fur that helps to protect them from predators and the environment. The most distinctive feature of hedgehogs is their spikes. And the spikes are approximately 1 cm long and are made of keratin, the same material as human nails.



Hedgehogs come in a variety of colors, including brown, gray, and white. Some species may also have black or tan markings. The underbelly is typically lighter in color than the rest of the body.

Physical Characteristics of Hamsters


Hamsters are small rodents with an average length of 10-15 cm and the Syrian hamster is the largest species, reaching a length of 20 cm. 

Hamsters size


Average Hamster weighs about 100-150 grams with Syrian hamster can go up to 400 grams.

Coat and Color

Hamsters have a soft, thick coat of fur that helps to keep them warm in their burrows. They come in a variety of colors, including brown, gray, black, white, and golden. Some species may also have distinctive markings, such as black stripes or patches.



Hamsters have short, stubby tails that are covered in fur and are barely visible. The tail is used to help balance the hamster when it is running or climbing. It is not prehensile, meaning it cannot grasp objects.

The Difference in Temperament: Hedgehog vs Hamster

Choosing the perfect pet for your home can also come to what you want in your pet. Some pets are active, thus taking your time and energy to go after them; some can be very low maintenance. Now we shall see the difference in temperament in hedgehogs and hamsters: 

A table comparing the temperament of hedgehogs and hamsters

HedgehogShy and defensive, but friendly with proper socialization (solitary animals)Active and playful, enjoys playing and exploringRelatively quiet, may make small grunts or snorts
HamstersSolitary animals, can become aggressive if housed with other hamsters (friendly with proper handling and socialization)Active and playful, enjoys playing with toys and exploringQuiet, may squeak or make soft chirping noises

The temperament of Hedgehogs


Hedgehogs are solitary animals and do not typically enjoy the company of other hedgehogs or animals. They are known for being shy and defensive. They will often roll into a tight ball and puff up their spikes when Hedgehogs feel threatened.


However, with proper socialization and handling, hedgehogs can become friendly and docile pets.


Hedgehogs are active animals and enjoy playing and exploring their environment. They are generally nocturnal and are most active during the night. They enjoy running on wheels and playing with toys, but they can also be quite independent and content to play alone.



Hedgehogs are relatively quiet animals and do not make much noise. They may make small grunts or snorts when excited or alarmed, but they are generally not loud or disruptive.

The temperament of Hamsters


Hamsters are generally solitary animals and do not do well in groups. They can become aggressive and territorial if housed with other hamsters, and keeping them in individual cages is best. However, with proper handling and socialization, hamsters can be friendly and affectionate pets.



Hamsters are active and playful animals that enjoy playing with toys and exploring their environment. They are most active at night and can be very entertaining to watch as they play.


Hamsters are generally quiet animals and do not make much noise. They may squeak or make soft chirping noises, but they are not loud or disruptive. However, some hamsters may become more active and noisy at night when they are most awake and playful.


The Difference in Care Requirements

Both the hedgehog and hamster have their care requirements. Though they are quite similar, there are some differences too. For example, their housing and diets. Let’s look further into this topic: 

HousingSpacious cage with wire mesh top, soft flooring, and hiding place.Spacious cage with multiple levels and bedding material
DietCommercial food, Beetles, Earwigs, Caterpillars, Earthworms, fruits, vegetables, and freshwater. Avoid dog/cat foodPellets, fresh fruits/veggies, occasional treats, and freshwater
ExercisePlay, explore, exercise wheel, dig in the dirtRunning wheel, exercise ball, toys, and supervised playtime
Vet CareRegular check-ups and vaccinations are necessaryAnnual check-up recommended

For Hedgehogs


Provide a spacious cage that is at least 2 x 3 feet with a wire mesh top and soft flooring (such as aspen shavings). A hiding place is also recommended.



Feed high-quality commercial hedgehog food, fresh fruits, and vegetables, and always have fresh water available. They also like Beetles, Earwigs, Caterpillars, Earthworms, Millipedes, etc. You should avoid dog or cat food.


For a fun workout, let your hedgehog play and explore outside of its cage. Give it a spinning exercise wheel so it may play and spin as much as it wants. Allowing your hedgehog to dig in the soil is another excellent kind of exercise for it.


Veterinary Care

Regular veterinary check-ups and vaccinations are necessary for your hedgehog’s health.

Hamster Care


A spacious cage with a minimum size of 24 inches (Syrian) or 18 inches (Dwarf) with multiple levels and bedding material like aspen shavings.



Make a balanced diet of pellets, fresh fruits/veggies, and occasional treats available with a fresh water supply at all times.


Provide a running wheel/exercise ball and toys for stimulation. You can also provide supervised playtime outside of the cage for additional exercise and bonding.

Veterinary Care

A visit to the vet is not needed if your hamster is doing fine but once a year checkup is definitely recommended. 

If you’re interested in learning more about small animals, you may want to check out our article on chinchilla vs hamster, as well as our article on dwarf hamster vs hamster. Our article on chinchilla vs hamster compares these two popular pets in terms of their characteristics, care requirements, and suitability as pets. Meanwhile, our article on dwarf hamster vs hamster discusses the similarities and differences between these two cute and lovable pets in terms of their care requirements and behavior.


Now we shall see some commonly asked questions people have regarding hedgehogs and hamsters.

Q: How Much Time Do Hedgehogs And Hamsters Need For Interaction With Their Owners?

Compared to hamsters, who are gregarious animals that benefit from regular engagement and playfulness with their owners, hedgehogs are more solitary creatures and do not need as much interaction with their owners.

Q: Are Hedgehogs Or Hamsters Better For Families With Children?

We advise choosing a hamster over a hedgehog if you have children. They are safer to have near children and easier to control. If not handled correctly, the hedgehog’s spiky spines may seriously harm.

Q: Can Hedgehogs And Hamsters Be Litter-Trained?

Yes, both hedgehogs and hamsters can be litter-trained with the proper training methods and consistency.


Choosing between a hedgehog vs hamster as a pet can be a tough decision. Both animals have their unique personalities, quirks, and needs. And it’s important to consider all of these factors before making a final decision. 

Ultimately, the choice comes down to your personal preferences and lifestyle. So, do your research, ask questions, and choose the pet that’s right for you. And most importantly, enjoy the journey of discovering the joys of pet ownership!

Lisa G

Meet Lisa G, the founder and author of RodentsFact.com. 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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