Hamsters, gerbils, and guinea pigs are great pets for people of all ages. The difference between the three can be slim, but each animal has their advantage. Below, we’ll look at things to consider before choosing your new little furry friend.
Hamsters are great beginner pets. Living about 2-3 years, they only need a 12 by 18-inch cage (although the larger, the better). Hamsters are not very social, meaning you only need one to keep it happy. Some hamsters can become defensive if not handled regularly. This can cause issues because some are nocturnal and don’t like to be woken up during the day. Still, hamsters are a good option for children because they are easy to care for and widely available.
Another great starter pet, gerbils have the same lifespan and are a similar size to hamsters. However, gerbils are social animals, so it is best to adopt a male and a female from the same litter (adult male gerbils can be hostile towards each other). A bigger cage is necessary for two gerbils, but their interactions make them fun to watch. Gerbils are more energetic than hamsters, too, and aren’t as prone to biting.
The largest of the three, guinea pigs are also the most common. They live to be 5-7 years old and weigh 2-3 pounds. Guinea pigs rarely bite, are calmer, and are social animals, like gerbils. Adopting them in a pair is a good idea. However, guinea pigs need a large space because they’re so active, so an area of more than 4 square feet is suggested. Guinea pigs like to roam and require a more specific diet of hay, veggies and plenty of vitamin C. Because of their size, life span, and larger space requirements, guinea pigs are a great choice for families ready to make more of a commitment.
Which is for you?
All three are great picks, so it comes down to level of commitment and what you like! Go to the pet store and see some in person, handle them, and get a feel for which personality is right for you and your family.