Chinchilla or Guinea Pig? [Which Pet Is Better for Me?]

If you are in the market for a new pet, you likely have concerns about which pet may be the best for you and your family.

It is an understandable concern, and I do not blame you for doing the preliminary research ahead of time.

I did the exact same thing before adopting my chinchilla roughly 4 ½ years ago.

This brings me directly into the topic of the day and a question that I see a lot of potential new pet owners asking.

Should I adopt a Guinea pig or a chinchilla?

Well, here is the thing with that question.

They both have a lot of unique personality and behavior characteristics, and they can both make excellent pets.

Instead of creating a straight debate on the topic, I wanted to break down this topic in a different fashion today.

Today, I want to simply lay out the pros and cons of owning each of these pets and let you be the judge as to which pet is going to be the best for you and your family.

To kickstart the process and make life easy, I have created easy to navigate links directly below that will allow you to skip to any specific section of this post that you desire to learn more about.

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Here is how I intend to break down the Chinchilla Vs. The Guinea Pig for you today:

As mentioned, a moment ago, if you are short on time or need to skip around in this post, feel free to do so using the links provided directly above.

Otherwise, stick around and I will break down the critical information to understand when it comes to owning a chinchilla vs. owning a guinea pig.

Here is the critical information to understand.

The Similarities and Differences Between Chinchilla’s and Guinea Pigs

The first thing that is important to understand when it comes to owning either a chinchilla or a guinea pig is that they have a lot of in common.

While they may need different diets and have different personalities, many of the same experiences you would encounter with a chinchilla, you will also encounter with a guinea pig.

I am going to cover some of those similarities to kick start these comparisons.

Diet Similarities and Differences

Both guinea pigs and chinchillas are going to have relatively similar diets that consist of hay and pellets.

It is, however, important to understand that the pellets that are formulated for a chinchilla cannot be used for a guinea pig and vice versa.

While they have similar diets, for the most part, they do have unique nutritional needs that need to be met, making it impossible to commingle or share the same foods between both pets.

Bedding, Habitats, and Cages

This is not as black and white, but it is still relatively similar.

Both a guinea pig and a chinchilla need a habitat that is safe, climate-controlled, and entertaining.

The most significant difference is with the size of the cage or habitat.

Guinea pigs require a smaller cage than a chinchilla due to a chinchilla having a more robust ability to jump and climb.

Both pets can avoid using bedding such as Aspen shavings and can use alternatives such as fleece liners.

Overall, while they may have similar needs in this category, it is imperative that you search for the best cage possible for a chinchilla compared to a guinea pig.

With a chinchilla, you are searching for a cage that is large, both vertically and horizontally.

This gives them the ability to climb and jump in the same fashion they are accustomed to in the wild.

Overall, a guinea pig will be cheaper in the initial days when it comes to the cage factor due to the size needed.

A guinea pig will be fine in a one-level cage without as many accessories and ledges required.

Personality and Behavior Similarities and Differences

After some initial time passes and both pets have a chance to adapt to their new environment, personality, and behavior with chinchillas and guinea pigs will be relatively similar.

However, chinchillas are known to take some time warming up to their new owners and building trust with them compared to the guinea pig.

After this trust is built, both pets are outgoing, interactive, and enjoy socializing with their owners and family members.

Both pets are also best suited for being with other rodents that are the same.

Simply meaning, a chinchilla does best when with other chinchillas and guinea pigs do best with other guinea pig companions.

It is not recommended to have them co-habituating with different rodents, and bonding typically will not take place taking this approach.

Overall, adopting either of these pets will net you a loving bond and a pet that ultimately understands and recognizes their owners and family members.

Time Requirements with Guinea Pigs and Chinchillas

Both pets require love and attention from their families.

They both should be allowed to come out of the cage at least once per day if possible, to run around, get in some exercise, and interact with their owners.

Doing so ultimately ensures more happiness and less chance of boredom.

This can also eliminate issues such as destructive chewing with both pets.

Overall, regardless if you pick a chinchilla or a guinea pig, they both have socialization requirements that need to be met before ultimately making the decision to adopt one or the other.

Initial Cost Similarities Between Chinchillas and Guinea Pigs

The initial cost between both pets is going to be relatively similar during the initial adoption except for two factors.

One of them we have already covered in this post.

A chinchilla is going to require a proper size cage, which will cost slightly more out of pocket in the initial days.

A chinchilla is also more expensive than a guinea pig to adopt.

At popular pet stores such as PetSmart, you are looking at about a $100.00 difference in cost between the two pets.

Most commonly, it’s possible to adopt a chinchilla for roughly $150.00 compared to a guinea pig, which will only run you about $40.00-$60.00 dollars depending on where you choose to adopt from and if you decide to use a reputable breeder or not.

After these initial costs are taken care of, the cost you will encounter on an ongoing basis or monthly cost is going to be remarkably similar.

It will be the basics that are needed for both pets, such as safe chew toys, bedding, and hay.

Outside of these items, neither of these pets require too much money out of pocket after the initial adoption.

In plain English.

The adoption is the most expensive day owning either of these pets and gets extremely cheap to care for both pets going forward.

This is one positive I love about owning a pet chinchilla, and I would imagine most guinea pig owners feel the same way.

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Lifespan Difference with Guinea Pigs and Chinchillas

This is one of the most drastic differences between the two pets.

Adopting a guinea pig simply will not provide you a long-lasting relationship compared to adopting a chinchilla.

In fact, it is roughly 50% of the life span.

A guinea pig, on average, will live roughly 8-10 years with proper care while a chinchilla can live nearly 15-20 years with appropriate care.

If you are more of an individual who does not see this as a con, it is not a huge issue.

However, if you are someone looking for a long-living pet and long-lasting relationship, a chinchilla may be the better pet for you.

Bathing and Hygiene

This is another big difference between the two pets.

While guinea pigs can have more of a traditional bathing process, a chinchilla cannot.

A chinchilla cannot get wet.

Chinchilla use special formulated dust to remain clean and keep their clean, healthy coats of luxurious fur.

Handling

Handling is another topic we need to cover in this post.

A guinea pig, overall, is an easier pet to handle and hold due to not being as agile and fast.

Chinchilla’s are known to get scared relatively easily, so it is imperative that you build a bond and a trust before getting overly cuddly with them.

A guinea pig, on the other hand, will not try an escape as much in the early days of ownership and are easier to get in and out of the cage.

The best way to ensure your chinchilla behaves in the same fashion is to work with them each day so they can rest assured that you are safe and begin to trust you.

Once this takes place, both pets can be handled with ease, and both can be cuddly and loving companions.

However, for those of you with a lack of patience in the beginning days of ownership, you may be better off adopting a guinea pig.

Health Concerns

Both pets are relatively easy to care for when it comes to common health problems.

They are both rodents, and with proper care and with appropriate diets, they can both remain happy and healthy.

With chinchillas, the most common issue you need to be cautious of is teeth issues or overgrown teeth.

Overall, I would classify these pets as remarkably similar in this fashion and would not weigh any decision on which pet to adopt based on their potential health concerns later in your ownership.

Now that we have a lot of the primary categories discussed and you understand some of the similarities and differences between guinea pigs and chinchillas, let’s move into making a simple breakdown of the pros and cons of owning either a chinchilla or a guinea pig next.

The Pros of Owning A Chinchilla

I would try to sum these up as quick and straightforward as possible for the readers, but it is not always that easy.

Nonetheless, here is a quick list of what I would consider being the most beneficial factors of owning a chinchilla.

  • 👍Long Life Spans Providing 15-20 Years of Companionship
  • 👍Cheap to Care for After the Initial Adoption
  • 👍Odorless and Clean Pets to Own
  • 👍The Ability to Be Litter Trained (For Urination)
  • 👍Can Be Left Alone If Need Be
  • 👍Playful, Interactive and Unique Personalities
  • 👍Entertaining to Watch Climb and Jump
  • 👍Cuddly and Loving Pets After They Trust, Their Owners
  • 👍The Softest and Most Unique Fur Coats of Any Animal You Can Adopt
  • 👍Love to Socialize and Can Bond with Other with Chinchillas

The Cons of Owning a Chinchilla

On the flip side, I wanted to ensure we mention the cons you will encounter if you decide to adopt a chinchilla compared to a guinea pig.

Here is a look at my top drawbacks that come with chinchilla ownership.

  • 👎More extended Bonding and Adaption Process After Adoption
  • 👎Difficult to Place in and Out of The Cage (Without Prior Knowledge)
  • 👎Teeth that Never Stop Growing and Can Cause Health Concerns
  • 👎Chinchillas Poop 200+ Times Per Day
  • 👎More Costly Adoption Day Due to Pet Price and A Large Cage Needed
  • 👎Require Dust Baths to Remain Clean
  • 👎Require Proper Living Temperatures to Survive and Avoid Overheating
  • 👎Are Frequent Chewers and Can Get Bored Relatively Easily
  • 👎Experts at Hiding When Out for Playtime

The Pros of Owning a Guinea Pig

Now, it is only fair to also break down all the benefits you can experience deciding to adopt a guinea pig.

Here is a look at some of the positives you can experience going this direction.

  • 👍Cheaper Initial Adoption Day Due to Pet Price and Cheaper Cage Required
  • 👍Cheap to Care for Following the Adoption
  • 👍Easy to Handle, Pet and Cuddle
  • 👍Slower and Easier to Get in and Out of The Cage
  • 👍Friendly, Loving and Affectionate Towards Their Families and Owners
  • 👍The Ability to Socialize and Learn to Bond with Other Guinea Pigs
  • 👍Easy Bathing and Cleaning Process
  • 👍Can Be Left Alone if Necessary
  • 👍Long Life Spans

The Cons of Owning a Guinea Pig

On the other hand, let’s be sure we also lay out some of the drawbacks guinea pig adopters will encounter taking this path.

  • 👎Shorter Life Spans Than Chinchillas
  • 👎Not as Odorless and Hypoallergenic as Chinchillas
  • 👎Can Be Audible and Make Loud Noises
  • 👎Some Guinea Pigs Are Known to Be Timid and Reserved
  • 👎Daily Cleaning Required

Final Thoughts

At the end of the day, guinea pigs and chinchillas can both make for excellent pets.

In fact, I would argue that chinchillas and guinea pigs are also great pets for children.

With all pets, you will encounter some pros and cons during your ownership, but overall, the long-lasting relationship is always worth the initial growing pains.

Chili and I wish you the best of luck with whichever pet you ultimately adopt.

Share Your Thoughts

Do you have anything further you can add for the Planet Chinchilla community?

Any further similarities or differences between the chinchilla and a guinea pig that you deem notable to add to this post?

Be sure to share those thoughts, stories, and concerns by dropping a comment below.

As always, Chili and I appreciate you stopping by and reading today.

Thanks again, and we will see you next time.

Josh Martin

My Name is Josh and this is my 4 year-old female chinchilla "Chili". We created Planet Chinchilla to share all the stories about owning a chinchilla that you need to know. I'm the Author of the eBook "The Ultimate Chinchilla Care Guide, From Adoption and On"

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