What to Know Before Getting a Guinea Pig or Hamster

What to Know Before Getting a Guinea Pig or Hamster

Thursday, 21 October 2021 11:40

Does it feel like something is missing for you and your family? Do you feel like you would be a little more whole with a tiny pet? Do you want to determine if your kids are ready to care for something like a dog or cat?

A guinea pig or hamster is a great introduction to pet ownership, but these pocket pets deserve the same amount of love, affection, and care as any other animal. 

Before you make the commitment to a hamster or guinea pig, here are some things you should consider about bringing one of these pets into the family.


What You Need to Know About Guinea Pigs

If you are considering bringing a guinea pig home, here are some things you need to know:

  • Long-term commitment: Guinea pigs are not temporary pets. If you get a guinea pig, expect them to be around for upwards of half a decade or more. With proper care, a guinea pig could live an average of five to seven years with your family.
  • Social beings: Guinea pigs don’t like to be alone. It would be wise to get two guinea pigs so that they can keep each other company. Note, if you don’t want guinea babies, bring home two guinea pigs of the same sex. And if you get two, it’s best to get them both together and early on in their lives, so they’re more likely to get along well and not clash.
  • Easy to tame: It is important to remember when introducing your pet to guests or even their own new home, they can easily become skittish and could be stressed by change. Fortunately, guinea pigs are usually relatively easy to calm down with gentle handling and care. Be sure to make someone aware of the potential for skittishness anytime they hold your guinea pig because they’ll want to hold your cute pet!
  • A larger home: Guinea pigs love to roam, but many of the cages marketed to owners are entirely too small. Guinea pigs aren’t likely to try to escape from their environment, so if you can find a larger cage in which they have plenty of room to roam, they will be happier and feel more at home.
  • Vitamin C: As the owner of a guinea pig, you need to be diligent in making sure your pet gets plenty of Vitamin C. This is especially important as guinea pigs cannot produce their own vitamin C. Usually, giving them a supplement tablet will do the trick.

What You Need to Know About Hamsters

After hearing the information on bringing a guinea pig home, maybe a hamster may better suit you and your situation.

  • A shorter commitment: Unlike guinea pigs, hamsters do not have a long lifespan. Hamsters, on average, live about two to three years. Keep this in mind, knowing it’s a shorter lifespan, you may have to say goodbye sooner than you would like.
  • Activity schedule: A hamster is on a different schedule than most humans. Hamsters are nocturnal, meaning they’ll be running the wheel at night when you’re trying to sleep. Additionally, they’re likely sleeping during the daytime when you may want to play with them. 
  • They can be anxious: It’s normal for hamsters to get anxious, and, unfortunately, their anxiety leads to the development of stress-related disorders. This means when you or a friend are handling your hamster, it could easily be startled and try jumping from their hands.
  • Escape artists: One of your hamster’s favorite activities will be trying to escape their enclosure. It’s possible if you leave home for a few hours, you could come back to your hamster not being where it should be. Get them a secure home and keep an eye on them chewing or clawing their way out.
  • Diet: A hamster’s diet resembles that of an omnivore, eating plants and meats. However, a hamster should not be overfed because they can quickly become obese, which can reduce their already short lifespan. Additionally, hamsters love their water! Hamsters need fresh water at their disposal 24/7, and the bottle should be cleaned out every day. Any animal that can run on those hamster wheels would need a lot of water to stay hydrated.

Are You Getting a Hamster or Guinea Pig? 

After weighing your options, have you decided on bringing home a guinea pig or a hamster? Both have their pros and cons, and if you’re considering  a new addition to your family, you should find a veterinarian that will treat them like family as well.

At Avery Creek Pet Hospital, we treat your pets like our own family, regardless of how big or how small they are. Our team cares for all kinds of pets, whether you have cats, dogs, guinea pigs, or hamsters. 

Schedule your appointment today at Avery Creek Pet Hospital in south Asheville. We can help make your pet ownership journey the amazing experience you know it should be.