Can You Keep A Guinea Pig And A Hamster In The Same Cage?


Many rodent owners love their pets, and once you have one, it is hard to stop yourself from adopting another, whether it is the same breed or another breed. Individual rodents require different cage sizes and having more than one rodent can take up a lot of space if you keep them in separate cages.

While many experienced rodent owners have established ways for guinea pigs and hamsters to cohabitate, if you have a guinea pig and a hamster, they should not stay in the same cage together for many reasons. Some of these reasons are:

  • Personalities
  • How territorial they can be
  • Sleep schedules

Guinea pigs and hamsters are great pets to have, and even though they shouldn’t be kept in the same cage, they are great companions for humans. It will require more time time to play with them individually but having guinea pigs and hamsters as pets can be very rewarding.

Why You Can’t Keep a Guinea Pig and a Hamster Together

As different species, guinea pigs and hamsters have incredibly distinct personalities, space requirements, and needs. Some pet owners even recommend keeping their cages in separate rooms.

Personalities

Although they are both rodents, hamsters and guinea pigs have very different personalities.

Hamster Eating

Hamsters tend to be territorial. They enjoy being alone and can have limits when socializing with their owners. Hamsters need their personal cages, food, water, and space to exercise and explore. They will mark everything they own and come into contact with, with their scent glands. Even though they are smaller, hamsters will try to become dominant over guinea pigs.

Hamsters also tend to be skittish, especially when they are younger. They are known to bite if they feel scared, which is usually when something bigger than them comes around, such as a guinea pig. Hamsters are also prone to being more stressed than guinea pigs, and stress can lead to many illnesses in a hamster.

Pair of guinea pigs

On the other hand, guinea pigs are very social animals and love attention. Like hamsters, guinea pigs are also skittish; however, when guinea pigs are afraid, they are more likely to run away and hide. Guinea pigs are incredibly patient; however, if they feel annoyed, they will bite and can severely injure a hamster.

Lifestyles

Along with personalities, guinea pigs and hamsters have very different lifestyles. Some parts that are different between hamsters and guinea pigs are:

  • Sleep patterns
  • Feeding
  • Companionship
  • Playtime

Sleep and Wake Cycle

Day Night Cycle

Guinea pigs usually take short naps throughout the day and tend to sync up to their owner’s sleep/wake cycle. Hamsters like to sleep all day and wake up in the evening.

Feeding Habits

Eating Habits

Guinea pigs are herbivores, and hamsters are omnivores. They also can’t tell their food apart and will try to eat each other’s food. Since a hamster is territorial, they are likely to be food-aggressive and attack anyone or anything that comes near it.

Hamsters also like to take their food and hide it for later use in their nest. Guinea pigs need to be fed in a bowl, or else they can forget their food is available to them if it is hidden.

Companionship

Companionship

Hamsters tend to be solitary animals and will regularly examine their cage for outsiders. Guinea pigs enjoy spending time with others as herd animals and don’t mind other guinea pigs around. Hamsters are less likely to form bonds and attachments with each other and humans, while guinea pigs enjoy spending time with other guinea pigs and their owners.

Playtime and Exercise

Playtime and Exercise

Hamsters enjoy the same environment, while guinea pigs love to explore and have their environment changed. Maintaining the same domain will help the hamster feel more comfortable with their surroundings.

Hamsters don’t like to spend much time out of their cage. If a hamster does get out of its cage for playtime, it should be in a ball because of how agile they are and how easy it is to get lost in small spaces. Guinea pigs should get some time daily out of their cages to exercise because they quickly can get bored with their surroundings.

Is it Impossible for Guinea Pigs and Hamsters to Share the Same Cage?

It is strongly recommended not to house guinea pigs and hamsters together, but that doesn’t mean that it is impossible. Many experienced rodent owners have been able to socialize each species with each other with successful results properly.

Some owners do have success with caging guinea pigs and hamsters together, such as this one:

Can Guinea Pigs and Hamsters Spend Time Socializing Together?

Since guinea pigs and hamsters shouldn’t be caged together due to a substantial difference in personality, it is recommended that they don’t spend much time socializing with each other. With it being said earlier that it isn’t impossible to cage guinea pigs and hamsters together, the same applies here.

Since hamsters are confrontational and territorial and are more likely to bite when intimidated, it may start to annoy a guinea pig. A guinea pig’s patience can only last so long, and if the hamster is continuously nipping at the guinea pig, then the guinea pig is likely to retaliate.

If you are going to have your guinea pig and hamster spending time together, make sure to:

  • Supervise their playtime and try not to leave them alone for too long
  • Provide several hiding spots for one to get away from the other
  • Be prepared to separate them if a fight breaks out.

Keeping Guinea Pigs Together

Most of the time, if they are of the same species, many animals can stay in the same cage together, including guinea pigs. It is suggested to have more than one guinea pig in a cage because they can quickly become lonely and depressed without a friend with how much they enjoy socializing.

Pair of small guinea pigs

If you do have multiple guinea pigs in the same cage, make sure to separate them by their sex, unless you are looking to breed. Even though guinea pigs love having companions and socializing, they do need a bigger cage. One guinea pig requires a cage that is 24×43 inches. For every other guinea pig you have, you should double it, as you would with hamsters.

Since guinea pigs also have varying personalities within their breed, sometimes guinea pigs may not get along while living in the same cage. Make sure to watch their behaviors for signs of aggression to make sure they are happy and feel safe with their companion.

Keeping Hamsters Together

As with guinea pigs, hamsters can stay in the same cage as each other but shouldn’t. Since hamsters are territorial, it is essential to note that there have been incidents of aggression, fighting to the death, and cannibalism if hamsters are in the same cage.

Pair of hamsters in a cup

Certain breeds tend to get along with each other, such as certain Dwarf hamsters, like the Siberian and Roberovski breeds. The Chinese Dwarf hamster should never be caged with other hamsters because they are bigger and more territorial, even with siblings. Syrian hamsters are also more aggressive than others and should never be caged with a companion.

While these methods aren’t 100%, some ways to safely cage hamsters together are:

  • Introducing them to each other as babies at around 6-7 weeks old so they can become familiar with each other’s presence and scent. It is even safer if you adopt hamsters as littermates. If you have adult hamsters, it is best to keep them separate.
  • Ensuring their cage is big enough with plenty of space for one hamster to get away from the other. A hamster’s cage should be 12×24 inches and at least 12 inches tall. If you have more than one hamster, the cage should be doubled in length and width per hamster.
  • Separating hamster babies by sex after being weaned off of their mother will prevent fights and excessive breeding. This is also important because both hamster moms and dads are sometimes known to eat their babies, whether intentional or accidental. Here is an excellent article on how to tell the sex of your hamster.
  • Socializing the hamsters in separate cages can help you see if they are okay with each other. Here is an excellent guide on how to introduce and socialize two Dwarf hamsters to be in the same cage. Be sure to read each hamster’s body language and behaviors to know if they would possibly be okay with living with each other.

How to Know if Your Hamsters are Truly Fighting

Sometimes being able to distinguish playing and fighting between hamsters isn’t easy to determine, especially when they could be play fighting. Mostly babies play fight as a way to teach them social norms for hamsters, which many animals, including cats, do as well.

Pair of hamsters being held in hands

You should always supervise your hamsters while playing and if they are living in the same cage together. Not supervising your hamsters’ playtime can prevent you from knowing their behaviors and being able to tell if they are play fighting, asserting dominance, or about to have a battle royale to the death.

Some behaviors to notice if hamsters appear to be fighting are:

  • Continuity: Usually, hamsters are asserting dominance over the other. If a fight is quick and doesn’t continue with chasing, cornering, and biting, then it is one hamster showing the other who’s boss.
  • Appearance: Hamster fights can get messy, and if it happens in the cage, the substrate can fly all over the place. Check both hamsters to make sure there isn’t any blood or missing patches of fur. When playing with your hamsters individually, you should also carefully examine their bodies if something had happened while they were unsupervised. Any bite marks, blood, or missing patches of fur can indicate they have been fighting.

Socializing With Other Animals

Many pet owners don’t stick to having more than one companion in their homes. Lots tend to have dogs, cats, rodents, rabbits, and other animals living in the same house. As for each species, it depends on the animals’ personalities and instincts to know if it is safe to allow them to spend time together.

Dogs

Dogs and hamsters have been able to build relationships, but seeing how they both react to new animals and people can seriously affect their relationship. Hamsters are territorial, and they will fight, especially if they are scared. If a hamster attempts to stand up to a dog, the dog will most likely fight back.

Golden Retriever Dog

Many calm and social dog breeds, such as Maltese and guinea pigs, get along well and can hold a strong bond. If you are going to allow your dog and guinea pig to socialize, know how your dog is when they play and are introduced to new animals. If they are shy, easily excited, or skittish, it might be best not to allow your dog and guinea pig to socialize.

Dogs are significantly bigger than hamsters and guinea pigs, so even if it is accidental, their paw or tail could severely injure the rodents with one blow. Dogs can also carry bordetella, a bacteria that causes a severe respiratory illness in hamsters and guinea pigs, so it is recommended for the rodents’ health to keep dogs away from them.

Cats

Cats and rodents don’t have the most friendly relationship. Cats are natural predators to rodents in the wild, and many domestic cats still have their wild rodent-hunting instincts. It is not a good idea to allow a cat to be in a room with a rodent in a cage. It will give the rodent anxiety. Cats have also been known to attempt to open or knock over cages.

Cat

Outside of their predator-prey relationship, like dogs, cats can carry bordetella. Ultimately, if you have a cat at home, it isn’t the best idea to bring a guinea pig or hamster home.

Rabbits

Rabbits and guinea pigs can be somewhat similar in size, depending on the breed of the rabbit. They also require identical space requirements and substrates. Many rabbit breeds also have the same temperament as guinea pigs as well. Here is a fantastic video on why rabbits and guinea pigs should not be caged together:

Rabbits and hamsters have opposite personalities. Most rabbit breeds are incredibly social, while hamsters prefer to be alone. They also don’t understand each other’s body language, so a rabbit trying to get affection from a hamster could be perceived as an attack. Rabbits and hamsters are also territorial over their belongings.

Ferrets

As with cats and most dogs, ferrets are predatory animals. They are less likely to have a low prey-drive and are more likely to fight and kill a hamster or a guinea pig. Ferrets have been used for a long time for pest control. They should not ever be caged or allowed to socialize together.

Other Rodents

Caging and socializing hamsters with other rodents is not advised due to how territorial they are. They also may eat different foods than the other rodents. Individual toys can also be dangerous to different rodent species and cause a hamster to fight another rodent.

Guinea pigs and other rodents can get along well, but not with other territorial rodents such as rats. 

Living requirements such as substrates across rodents can be somewhat similar; however, chinchillas take dust baths, and the dust can cause respiratory issues in hamsters and guinea pigs. Overall, it is not recommended to mix species in the same cage.

Reptiles

Rodents and reptiles should never be caged together or allowed to socialize. For starters, reptiles can carry salmonella, which can infect your guinea pig or hamster. You should always wash your hands after handling a reptile.

Snakes are natural predators to guinea pigs and hamsters, and some snake owners feed their pet snake(s) frozen or live rodents.

Birds

Many birds and rodents have a predator-prey relationship; however, people who own both birds and guinea pigs have reported both species living in harmony. Most birds that are kept in homes are not predatory birds. They should never be housed together because both animals carry different bacterias that can infect the other; however, they can socialize with each other.

Birds and hamsters are different from birds and guinea pigs because they are both territorial and will try to fight each other if you attempt to socialize them.

If you have a guinea pig or hamster with any of the prey animals, be sure that they are in a sturdy cage off the floor. You should also provide hiding spaces in their room if they find a way to get out of their cage.

What to do if You Have a Guinea Pig and a Hamster

If you have a guinea pig and a hamster, you shouldn’t have to worry about surrendering or finding a new home for one unless you can’t get them to socialize appropriately or don’t have adequate space for multiple cages.

As mentioned earlier, it is best to keep guinea pigs and hamsters in entirely separate rooms. This is due to their different sleep cycles and that guinea pigs “talk” a lot, and it can cause stress to hamsters.

Conclusion

Even though you shouldn’t keep guinea pigs and hamsters in the same cage, that doesn’t mean that you can’t have both as a pet. While it is not recommended to keep guinea pigs and hamsters in the same cage, some owners have discovered ways to cohabit together.

Lee Cameron

When I was younger, I had guinea pigs and hamsters as pets. There was limited information back then as to how to take care of rodents, and indeed information on the various types of rodents that could be kept as pets. In this website, I hope to make it an easy, one-stop information portal on raising rodents!

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