Ask Difference

Guinea Pig vs. Hamster — What's the Difference?

Edited by Tayyaba Rehman — By Fiza Rafique — Published on November 15, 2023
A "Guinea Pig" is a larger rodent native to South America often kept as a pet, while a "Hamster" is a smaller nocturnal rodent of Eurasian origin commonly kept in cages as pets.
Guinea Pig vs. Hamster — What's the Difference?

Difference Between Guinea Pig and Hamster


Key Differences

Both "Guinea Pig" and "Hamster" are rodents, yet they belong to different families and have distinct origins. Guinea Pigs, known scientifically as Cavia porcellus, are native to South America and were domesticated as early as 5000 BC. Hamsters, on the other hand, belong to the Cricetinae subfamily and have their roots in Eurasia.
In terms of appearance, Guinea Pigs are generally larger and have a stout body with no tail. They have a variety of fur types, from short and smooth to long and curly. Hamsters, conversely, are smaller, have cheek pouches for storing food, and possess a stubby tail. Their fur is typically short and soft.
Behaviorally, Guinea Pigs tend to be social animals, often thriving when kept in pairs or groups. They are also diurnal, being most active during the day. Hamsters are typically solitary, with many species being aggressive toward others of their kind. They are nocturnal, so they're most active during the night.
Lifespan and dietary needs also set these animals apart. Guinea Pigs generally live between 4 to 8 years and require a diet rich in Vitamin C. Hay is also an essential part of their diet. Hamsters have a shorter lifespan, usually 2 to 3 years, and consume a variety of seeds, fruits, and vegetables.
Popular as pets, both animals have different care requirements. Guinea Pigs need spacious cages and regular grooming, especially those with longer hair. Hamsters, given their nocturnal nature, benefit from having an exercise wheel in their cage for nighttime activity. They also require secluded spaces as they love to burrow and hide.

Comparison Chart


South America

Physical Appearance

Larger, stout body, no tail
Smaller, cheek pouches, stubby tail


Social, Diurnal
Solitary, Nocturnal


Needs Vitamin C, hay-based
Seeds, fruits, and vegetables


4 to 8 years
2 to 3 years

Compare with Definitions

Guinea Pig

A pet with diverse fur types.
She owns a long-haired guinea pig.


A nocturnal rodent with cheek pouches.
The child fed his hamster sunflower seeds.

Guinea Pig

A herbivorous rodent.
Guinea pigs love munching on fresh vegetables.


A rodent with a short lifespan.
Hamsters typically live for about two years.

Guinea Pig

An animal used for scientific experiments.
The medicine was first tested on guinea pigs.


A small pet often kept in cages.
She bought a cage with a wheel for her hamster.

Guinea Pig

A term for someone used as a test subject.
I don't want to be a guinea pig for the new software.


A burrowing animal from the Cricetinae subfamily.
The Syrian hamster is one of the most popular pet breeds.

Guinea Pig

A tailless South American rodent.
The kids were delighted with their new guinea pig pets.


An animal known for storing food in its cheeks.
It's amusing watching the hamster stuff its cheeks with food.

Guinea Pig

Alternative spelling of guinea pig


A small Eurasian rodent of the subfamily Cricetinae, especially Mesocricetus auratus, having large cheek pouches and a short tail and often kept as a pet or used in laboratory research.


Any of various Old-World rodent species belonging to the subfamily Cricetinae.


Especially, the golden hamster, Mesocricetus auratus, and the dwarf hamsters of genus Phodopus, often kept as a pet or used in scientific research.
The hamster stuffed his puffy cheeks with food.


Other rodents of similar appearance, such as the maned hamster or crested hamster, Lophiomys imhausi, mouse-like hamsters of genus Calomyscus, and the white-tailed rat (Mystromys albicaudatus).


(ambitransitive) To secrete or store privately, as a hamster does with food in its cheek pouches.


A small European rodent (Cricetus frumentarius). It is remarkable for having a pouch on each side of the jaw, under the skin, and for its migrations. Hamsters are commonly kept as a pets.


Short-tailed Old World burrowing rodent with large cheek pouches

Common Curiosities

A nocturnal rodent with cheek pouches.

"The child fed his hamster sunflower seeds."

A small pet often kept in cages.

"She bought a cage with a wheel for her hamster."

What do Guinea Pigs eat?

They are herbivores and mainly eat hay, fresh vegetables, and specially formulated Guinea Pig pellets.

A rodent with a short lifespan.

"Hamsters typically live for about two years."

What is a Guinea Pig?

A Guinea Pig, also known as a cavy, is a small, domesticated rodent originally from South America.

How big do Guinea Pigs get?

They can grow to about 8-12 inches in length and weigh between 1.5 to 2.5 pounds.

Are Guinea Pigs related to pigs?

No, despite their name, they aren't related to pigs. The name may derive from their squealing sounds or possibly their rounded shape.

A burrowing animal from the Cricetinae subfamily.

"The Syrian hamster is one of the most popular pet breeds."

What are some characteristics of Guinea Pigs?

They are known for their gentle nature, vocalizations, and they come in various colors and hair types.

Are Guinea Pigs nocturnal?

No, they are crepuscular, which means they are most active during dawn and dusk.

What is a Hamster?

A hamster is a small rodent belonging to the subfamily Cricetinae. They are often kept as pets or used in laboratory research.

How long do hamsters live?

Most hamsters live 2 to 3 years, though lifespan varies among species.

Are hamsters nocturnal?

Yes, they are primarily nocturnal and are most active during the night.

How long do Guinea Pigs live?

On average, they live 4 to 8 years, though some can live up to 10 years with proper care.

Where should Guinea Pigs live?

They need spacious cages with bedding, hideaways, and chew toys for their environment.

What do hamsters eat?

They typically eat seeds, fruits, vegetables, and specially formulated hamster pellets.

What are hamster balls?

These are clear plastic spheres that hamsters can enter, allowing them to roam around safely outside their cage.

Are all hamsters good pets?

While many are, their suitability can vary by species and individual temperament. Syrian hamsters are often solitary, while some dwarf hamsters can be more social.

Where are hamsters originally from?

Hamsters are native to parts of Europe, Asia, and the Middle East.

Do hamsters hibernate?

Some species can go into a hibernation-like state called torpor under specific conditions, but not all hamsters do.

How big do hamsters get?

Their size varies by species. The Syrian hamster is about 6-7 inches long, while dwarf hamsters are around 2-4 inches.

An animal known for storing food in its cheeks.

"It's amusing watching the hamster stuff its cheeks with food."

Are Guinea Pigs used in scientific research?

Historically, they've been used in biomedical research, leading to the term "guinea pig" as a metaphor for test subjects.

Do Guinea Pigs require companionship?

Yes, they are social animals and often thrive better with companions of their own kind.

Do hamsters have cheek pouches?

Yes, many hamsters have expandable cheek pouches to carry food and bedding.

Share Your Discovery

Share via Social Media
Embed This Content
Embed Code
Share Directly via Messenger

Author Spotlight

Written by
Fiza Rafique
Fiza Rafique is a skilled content writer at, where she meticulously refines and enhances written pieces. Drawing from her vast editorial expertise, Fiza ensures clarity, accuracy, and precision in every article. Passionate about language, she continually seeks to elevate the quality of content for readers worldwide.
Tayyaba Rehman is a distinguished writer, currently serving as a primary contributor to As a researcher in semantics and etymology, Tayyaba's passion for the complexity of languages and their distinctions has found a perfect home on the platform. Tayyaba delves into the intricacies of language, distinguishing between commonly confused words and phrases, thereby providing clarity for readers worldwide.

Popular Comparisons

Trending Comparisons

New Comparisons

Trending Terms