Few things are more adorable than a chinchilla.
A guinea pig is one of those things.
Both rodents offer an overload of cuteness. Both also make for great pets.
Deciding between the two is an almost impossible task.
In fact, I myself was faced with this decision back when I first got my chinchilla.
For me, chinchilla vs guinea pig landed on the side of the chinchilla. But the guinea pig might be the better pet for you.
Keep reading for a detailed comparison that will help you decide whether the chinchilla or guinea pig is the best option for you.
- 1 Chinchilla Vs Guinea Pig
- 2 Chinchillas And Guinea Pigs Compared
- 2.1 Diet Similarities And Differences
- 2.2 Bedding, Habitats, And Cages
- 2.3 Personality And Behavior Similarities And Differences
- 2.4 Time Requirements With Guinea Pigs And Chinchillas
- 2.5 Initial Cost
- 2.6 Lifespan Difference Between Guinea Pigs And Chinchillas
- 2.7 Bathing And Hygiene
- 2.8 Handling
- 2.9 Health Concerns
- 3 Guinea Pig Vs Chinchilla: Final Thoughts
Chinchilla Vs Guinea Pig
This is an incredibly tough decision. Both animals have a lot of unique personality and behavior characteristics, and they both make excellent pets.
Instead of creating a straight debate on the topic, I wanted to break it down in a different fashion 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 one is best for you and your family.
After that, we’ll compare the guinea pig and the chinchilla directly in terms of a number of different characteristics.
Pros Of Owning A Chinchilla
I will try to sum these up as quickly and straightforward as possible, but it is not always that easy.
Nonetheless, here is a quick list of what I would consider 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
- 👍Can be litter trained (for urination only)
- 👍Can be left alone if need be
- 👍Playful, interactive and unique personalities
- 👍Entertaining to watch climbing and jumping
- 👍Cuddly and loving pets once they trust you
- 👍Softest and most unique fur coats of any animal you can adopt
- 👍Love to socialize and can bond with other chinchillas
Cons Of Owning A Chinchilla
On the flip side, I want to also be sure we mention the cons you will have to deal with, if you decide to adopt a chinchilla, as opposed to a guinea pig.
Here is a look at the top drawbacks of chinchilla ownership.
- 👎More extended bonding and adaptation process after adoption
- 👎Difficult to get 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 up front, due to cost of pet and the large cage needed
- 👎Require dust baths to remain clean
- 👎Require specific temperatures to survive and avoid overheating
- 👎Are frequent chewers and can get bored relatively easily
- 👎Experts at hiding when out for playtime
Pros Of Owning A Guinea Pig
Now, it is only fair to also break down all the benefits you can experience, if you decide to adopt a guinea pig. Here is a look at some of the positives of going this direction.
- 👍Cheaper up front, due to pet price and cheaper cage required
- 👍Cheap to care for following the adoption
- 👍Easy to handle, pet and cuddle
- 👍Easier to get in and out of the cage
- 👍Friendly, loving and affectionate toward their owners
- 👍Ability to socialize and learn to bond with other guinea pigs
- 👍Easy bathing and cleaning process
- 👍Can be left alone if necessary
- 👍Long lifespan (but shorter than chinchillas)
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 make loud noises
- 👎Some guinea pigs are timid and reserved
- 👎Daily cleaning required
Chinchillas And Guinea Pigs Compared
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 now going to cover those similarities, as well as the differences, between guinea pigs and chinchillas.
Diet Similarities And Differences
Both guinea pigs and chinchillas have similar diets that consist primarily of hay and pellets. But it is important to understand that the pellets 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 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 guinea pigs and chinchillas need a habitat that is safe, climate-controlled, and entertaining.
Both pets can avoid using bedding like Aspen shavings (thought these make excellent bedding in both cases) and can use alternatives like fleece liners. These are reusable and much easier to clean.
Overall, while they may have similar needs in this category, it is imperative that you search for the best cage possible for a chinchilla and make sure it is larger than a standard guinea pig cage.
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 to which they are accustomed in the wild.
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 is relatively similar.
However, chinchillas are known to take more time warming up to their new owners and building trust with them than guinea pigs.
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 with this approach.
Overall, adopting either of these pets will net you a loving bond and a pet that ultimately understands and recognizes its 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.
Overall, whether you pick a chinchilla or a guinea pig, they both have socialization requirements that need to be met.
The initial cost between both pets is relatively similar during the initial adoption, except for two factors.
One of them we have already covered in this post. A chinchilla requires a larger 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 difference in cost between the two pets.
Most commonly, it’s possible to adopt a chinchilla for roughly $150. A guinea pig will only run you about $40 to $60, 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 on an ongoing basis (i.e. the monthly cost) is going to be remarkably similar. This covers 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 you’ll have when owning either of these pets. It 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.
Lifespan Difference Between 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 as long a relationship as adopting a chinchilla.
I realize that this could also be a benefit for some people. It simply depends on your preference. But for many a long-living pet and long-lasting relationship is preferable. And chinchillas offer that.
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.
Handling is another topic we need to cover. A guinea pig, overall, is an easier pet to handle and hold, because it is not as agile and fast.
A guinea pig, on the other hand, will not try an escape as much in the early days of ownership and is 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 it every day, so it 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.
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, especially 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.
Guinea Pig Vs Chinchilla: Final Thoughts
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 the guinea pig that you deem notable?
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.