Can hamsters and guinea pigs live together?
Guinea pigs around hamsters are among the most popular pets in German-speaking countries.
In this article we do not want to clarify which of the two animals is the better pet, but rather whether you can keep hamsters and guinea pigs together.
One thing in advance: the answer is guaranteed to surprise you.
Can hamsters and guinea pigs live together?
Short answer: No! You should never keep hamsters and guinea pigs together, because the animals have very different requirements.
While hamsters are solitary animals, guinea pigs are extremely social and therefore need conspecifics.
In addition, there are various risks for both animals.
What are the reasons for keeping guinea pigs and hamsters together?
At first glance, hamsters and guinea pigs seem to have some things in common.
From this, there are supposed advantages….
Both species require litter and should be secured by a cage or hutch. So, if you want to keep both a guinea pig and a hamster, it seems logical and practical to keep both in the same shelter.
There is also the idea that both animals are not lonely, but keep each other company.
Since they cannot produce offspring together, this is also practical and makes castration of the males unnecessary.
But as convincing as the supposed advantages may seem to you, a species-appropriate keeping of guinea pigs and hamsters in the same cage is not possible.
Because of the differences, there are also dangers.
This is why you should not keep hamsters and guinea pigs together
Guinea pigs are very social and prefer to live in a group.
They play together and often sleep cuddled together. They warn each other of impending danger and need each other to feel comfortable.
Therefore, keeping them alone is not appropriate for the species.
Hamsters, on the other hand, are solitary animals that, with the exception of dwarf hamsters, only come together to mate.
Even dwarf hamsters do not live together permanently. They come together temporarily in groups. These associations dissolve after some time again.
Joint playing takes place only with very young animals.
Hamsters therefore need to be kept individually as soon as they become sexually mature.
They react quickly stressed, if larger animals are in their environment. They can flee or even attack.
While guinea pigs are active during the day, hamsters are busy foraging, exercising and grooming at dusk and at night.
So during the day, the hamster’s sleep is disturbed by the guinea pig. At night it is the other way around, because then the hamster is active and disturbs the guinea pig.
The animals are permanently under stress.
This has a negative effect on the immune system. The risk of disease increases and the lifespan can be considerably shorter.
Hamsters and guinea pigs communicate differently and therefore cannot communicate with each other. Therefore, they do not benefit from living together.
In addition, misunderstandings quickly occur, which can end in fights and thus in injuries on both sides.
When it comes to food, there are also significant differences between the two species.
While hamsters also need animal protein as well as oily and floury seeds, these are only a small addition to the menu for guinea pigs.
They should not be given animal protein such as mealworms at all.
This means you need to offer food separately. However, this cannot be safely implemented in a single cage. An important factor here is that both hamsters and guinea pigs should have food available all the time.
Even if you try to offer food separately in time, for example, stocking the hamster can become a problem. In addition, it means significantly more effort for you to keep feeding separately.
Equipment of the cage
Both animals need as much floor space as possible.
Hamsters should also have a running wheel, as they need a lot of exercise. Toys and aisles should also be available to the animal.
However, this in turn limits the floor space for the guinea pig.
Since both need different sleeping houses, space is also limited.
So instead of saving space by keeping them together, you will need a very large cage or hutch. This would need to be designed so that the animals can get out of each other’s way and the hamster cannot escape.
You already know the risk of injuries due to misunderstandings as well as the different diet.
In addition, you should also consider injuries due to the greatly different size: Since guinea pigs are larger and heavier than hamsters, even one wrong move can be enough to injure the smaller rodents.
The risk is also increased because hamsters like to create burrows. Therefore, they may be buried in the floor bedding when a guinea pig walks or runs across it.
Because of the disturbance and perceived threat, the hamster is under stress. Because the animals are defensible and can react aggressively, the hamster may injure the guinea pig.
In a cage, neither animal has an appropriate means of escape.
Even if you offer sleeping houses in different sizes, the hamster can still get into the guinea pig’s house.
In addition, the possible transmission of diseases is another danger. There are several ways to deal with this.
sharing of drinking bottles
accidental ingestion of feces
Especially since hamsters also defecate in a food bowl or in their sand bath, for example, this transmission path is always given.
You would have to clean the cage more frequently due to the greater amount of feces a guinea pig ingests, always disturbing the hamster and removing created passages.
With an individually kept hamster, this would be required much less frequently.
With a guinea pig, on the other hand, you need a thinner layer of bedding that needs to be replaced more often. However, the need is still kept lower than in a shared cage.
Guinea pigs should definitely be given free run on a daily basis.
They need the exercise and play opportunities for balance and to be happy. This is good for their well-being and health. Among other things, you can prevent overweight, train their muscles and also their cardiovascular system.
For this, however, they need much more space than a hamster.
This is comparatively easy to implement, since a secured space is sufficient and guinea pigs can neither jump nor climb. In addition, they usually become very tame and trusting and can be easily attracted by food.
The situation is different with hamsters.
They often do not become tame so quickly or to an extent that they can be easily attracted in the free run.
They also get into smaller niches such as behind cabinets. This can be another source of danger.
So if you want to give a hamster free run, it must be secured accordingly.
Even if you put a lot of effort into keeping them, there are dangers when you keep hamsters and guinea pigs together.
The animals will not be happy together!
Instead of a common cage you should keep hamsters and guinea pigs separately. The cages should also not be too close to each other, so that the rodents do not disturb each other in their resting phases.
Allow your guinea pig to live with other guinea pigs and your hamster to live alone, so that they are cared for in a species-appropriate way and can lead a happy life.
My name is Mark and the senior editor
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