Hedgehogs Vs. Guinea Pigs: A Comparison of Popular Small Pets

When it comes to keeping pets, you have many options, other than just dogs or cats. Small pets are quite popular since smaller animals usually require less space to live in and are more adorable.

Many people also assume that a smaller pet is easier to care for and look after. Of course, that last part isn’t always true.

Still, when it comes to small pets and their growing popularity, you’re likely to see more and more people owning pet hedgehogs and guinea pigs.

Hedgehogs and guinea pigs are both very popular choices for small pets, with hedgehogs being the more exotic choice. While both hedgehogs and guinea pigs are very small and cute, that is about as far as their similarities go. They are two distinct species and require different care.

So, if you’ve been considering getting either of these animals as a pet, you might benefit from considering the pros and cons of keeping either in your home.

Read ahead for a quick outline of the pros and cons of keeping hedgehogs and guinea pigs as pets, how hedgehogs and guinea pigs are similar, and how they are different.

All of these things can help you decide which animal you might prefer to own.

Keeping Hedgehogs as Pets

Hedgehogs can make wonderful pets, even if you don’t have previous experience with keeping a hedgehog.

They can be both high-maintenance and low-maintenance pets at the same time, meaning that while you need to feed them and bathe them, they usually spend time by themselves and don’t require a lot of interaction.

To give you a better idea of whether or not you would like to keep a pet hedgehog, we’ve outlined the main pros and cons of keeping hedgehogs as pets:


  • Hedgehogs are solitary and do not need much attention from their owners. They can also live as single pets and don’t need to be around other hedgehogs.
  • Hedgehogs only take up a little space and can live comfortably in a cage 2 feet by 3 feet.
  • They are quiet animals and do not make any noise or disturb their owners.
  • They don’t need to be taken out for exercise often and are happy with just moving around their cages or going on their exercise wheels.
  • Hedgehogs are nocturnal and sleep through most of the day, staying awake for a few hours around dawn and dusk – this means you don’t need to worry about your hedgehog feeling lonely while you’re out during the day, at work, or at school.
  • Their quills are not very sharp and will not harm you as a porcupine’s quills might.
  • They do not have any fur and are hypoallergenic.
  • Hedgehogs can form bonds with their owners and can be very loving pets.


  • Hedgehogs are not very social and do not do well with other pets in the household. This means a pet hedgehog must be the only pet in the house, or it should be kept separately.
  • Hedgehogs cannot be treated by every vet and require specialized treatment, so you must live close to a vet that can offer this treatment.
  • Hedgehogs need frequent baths to stay clean, and their cages also need to be cleaned frequently.
  • They are very sensitive to changes in temperature, so it is imperative to maintain a temperature below 70° F in their enclosure.
  • Hedgehogs have a lifespan of 4 to 6 years. A pet hedgehog passing away so soon can be distressing for owners and young children.

Keeping Guinea Pigs as Pets

Guinea pigs are extremely common pets; you’re much more likely to see someone with a pet guinea pig than a pet hedgehog.

And while guinea pigs have a reputation for being an easy pet to keep, they come with their own pros and cons to consider:


  • Guinea pigs are affectionate and have unique personalities, so they bond with their owners.
  • They have long lifespans of between 6 to 8 years.
  • Guinea pigs are relatively inexpensive pets, and their food and enclosures do not cost a lot.
  • Since guinea pigs are common pets, most regular vets can treat them.
  • Guinea pigs are a good fit for young children and can help teach children responsibility.


  • Guinea pigs can be loud at times, making oinking sounds that some might find irritating.
  • Guinea pigs cannot be left alone for long since they are very social animals and can get depressed when they don’t get to interact with other pets or their owners.
  • These small animals need lots of space to live in, and their enclosures have to be at least 7.5 square feet big.
  • Guinea pigs do not naturally produce any vitamin C and must be given the vitamin separately through a specialized diet.
  • Since guinea pigs are so small, they are delicate and can get hurt if handled roughly. They are prone to having weak joints and hemorrhages.
  • Guinea pigs and their enclosures can start to smell bad, leading to the need for frequent baths and enclosure cleaning.

How Hedgehogs and Guinea Pigs Are Similar

Hedgehogs and guinea pigs have more in common than being relatively small and popular house pets.

Both animals are nocturnal, which means they are usually awake early in the morning and after sunset. So, if you’re out most of the day, you can come home to your pets awake and ready to play.

Both hedgehogs and guinea pigs can be difficult to take care of.

You have to pay close attention to their diets, ensure that their enclosures are safe for them, and keep them clean so that they don’t get dirty or start to smell.

Both animals also have relatively short lifespans, which can be a bit of a disadvantage since a pet passing away is always a difficult experience for owners.

How Hedgehogs and Guinea Pigs are Different

Hedgehogs and guinea pigs have more differences than similarities. The biggest difference between the two is in their personalities.

Hedgehogs are solitary animals and should be kept as single pets. However, this does not mean that hedgehogs cannot and do not form strong bonds with their owners over time.

On the other hand, Guinea pigs are more sociable, and you can keep multiple guinea pigs simultaneously.

Guinea pigs are also more friendly and approachable, whereas hedgehogs can be shy and skittish.

Another big difference between the two animals is their appearance.

Guinea pigs look like miniature capybaras and have soft fur covering their bodies. Hedgehogs, on the other hand, have quills all over their backs.

Hedgehog Care

When it comes to hedgehog care, there are a few things to keep in mind in order to ensure that your pet stays healthy and happy.

In this section, we’ll cover the basics of hedgehog care, including enclosure and space, diet and nutrition, and maintenance and grooming.

Enclosure and Space

Hedgehogs require a spacious enclosure that allows them to move around and explore.

A wire enclosure meant for guinea pigs is a good option, but the cage floor should be solid, rather than wire, to prevent the hedgehog’s feet from getting caught.

Soft bedding such as recycled paper material or towels that are changed out regularly is best for the sensitive feet of a hedgehog.

It’s important to provide your hedgehog with plenty of space to move around. A minimum of 4 square feet of space is recommended, but more is always better.

Hedgehogs are active animals and need room to run, climb, and play.

Diet and Nutrition

Hedgehogs are insectivores and require a diet rich in protein. In addition to insects, they also need a variety of vegetables and fruits to meet their dietary needs.

Some good options include carrots, sweet potatoes, green beans, and apples.

It’s important to avoid feeding your hedgehog foods that are high in fat, as they can lead to malnutrition and other health issues.

Meat should also be avoided, as hedgehogs are not able to digest it properly.

Hedgehogs also require a source of Vitamin C in their diet, as they are not able to produce it on their own.

This can be provided through fruits and vegetables, or through a Vitamin C supplement.

Maintenance and Grooming

Hedgehogs require regular maintenance and grooming to keep them healthy and clean.

This includes providing them with fresh water daily, cleaning their cage regularly, and ensuring that they have access to hay for nesting.

Hedgehogs also shed their fur regularly, so it’s important to brush them regularly to prevent matting and other issues.

In addition, they may require regular nail trimming to prevent overgrowth and other health issues.

It’s important to monitor your hedgehog’s health closely, as they are prone to a variety of diseases and health issues.

Regular checkups with a veterinarian who specializes in exotic animals are recommended to ensure that your hedgehog stays healthy and happy.

Guinea Pig Care

When it comes to taking care of a guinea pig, there are a few things you need to keep in mind to ensure they are healthy and happy.

In this section, we will cover the enclosure and space, diet and nutrition, and maintenance and grooming of a guinea pig.

Enclosure and Space

Guinea pigs need plenty of space to move around, so it’s important to provide them with a cage that is large enough for them to play and exercise.

A cage that is at least 7.5 square feet is recommended for one or two guinea pigs. The cage should be placed in a quiet area of your home, away from loud noises and direct sunlight.

It’s also important to provide your guinea pig with plenty of toys and hiding places in their cage. This will help keep them entertained and prevent them from getting bored.

Guinea pigs are social animals and can coexist peacefully with other guinea pigs, so it’s recommended to keep them in pairs or small groups.

Diet and Nutrition

Guinea pigs are herbivores, which means they need a diet that is high in fiber and vitamin C. They should be fed a diet that consists of hay, vegetables, and pellets.

Fresh vegetables, such as kale, spinach, and carrots, should make up the majority of their diet. Guinea pigs also need access to fresh water at all times.

It’s important to note that guinea pigs cannot produce their own vitamin C, so it’s important to provide them with a supplement or feed them a diet that is high in vitamin C.

Treats should be given sparingly, as they can cause health problems if given in excess.

Maintenance and Grooming

Guinea pigs have long fur that requires regular grooming to prevent matting and tangling. They should be brushed at least once a week with a soft-bristled brush.

It’s also important to trim their nails regularly to prevent them from getting too long.

Guinea pigs are clean animals and do not require frequent baths.

However, if your guinea pig’s fur becomes soiled, you can give them a bath using a gentle shampoo formulated for small animals.

In conclusion, guinea pigs make great beginner-friendly pets as they are low-maintenance, quiet animals that can coexist peacefully with other guinea pigs.

However, they do require some responsibilities, such as providing them with a proper diet, a spacious cage, and regular grooming.

With proper care, guinea pigs can live up to 8 years and make great companions for small children and adults alike.

The Bottom Line

Hedgehogs and guinea pigs can both make for very good pets, depending on just how dedicated you are as a pet owner.

If you want to take the more traditional route and choose a more sociable and friendly pet, then a guinea pig might be a good choice.

If you don’t mind earning your pet’s trust and building a bond with it, then a hedgehog might suit you better!

Both animals require similar care and cost about the same to look after and maintain.

At the end of the day, your decision for which pet to get depends on your personal preferences and lifestyle.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Can hedgehogs and guinea pigs live together?

No, hedgehogs and guinea pigs cannot live together. Hedgehogs are solitary creatures and prefer to live alone.

Guinea pigs, on the other hand, are social animals and need to live with other guinea pigs. Putting them together can cause stress and even lead to fights, which can result in serious injuries.

What is the difference between a hedgehog and a guinea pig?

Hedgehogs and guinea pigs are two different species of animals. Hedgehogs are small, spiny creatures that are native to Europe, Asia, and Africa.

They have a round body, short legs, and a pointed snout. Guinea pigs, on the other hand, are larger and have a more rectangular body shape.

They are native to South America and have short legs, a rounded snout, and no spines.

How much space do hedgehogs and guinea pigs need?

Both hedgehogs and guinea pigs need plenty of space to move around.

A good rule of thumb is to provide at least 4 square feet of space per guinea pig and at least 8 square feet of space per hedgehog.

It’s important to provide them with a cage or enclosure that is large enough for them to move around comfortably.

What do hedgehogs and guinea pigs eat?

Hedgehogs and guinea pigs have different dietary needs. Hedgehogs are insectivores and need a diet that is high in protein.

They can be fed a combination of commercial hedgehog food and insects, such as crickets and mealworms.

Guinea pigs, on the other hand, are herbivores and need a diet that is high in fiber. They can be fed a combination of hay, fresh vegetables, and commercial guinea pig food.

How often do hedgehogs and guinea pigs need to be cleaned?

Hedgehogs and guinea pigs need to be cleaned regularly to maintain their health and hygiene.

Hedgehogs should have their cage cleaned at least once a week, while guinea pigs should have their cage cleaned at least twice a week.

It’s important to remove any uneaten food, feces, and urine from their cage and replace their bedding with fresh, clean bedding.

Do hedgehogs and guinea pigs have any health concerns in common?

Hedgehogs and guinea pigs can both be prone to certain health concerns.

Both species can develop dental problems if their teeth become overgrown, so it’s important to provide them with plenty of hay to help wear down their teeth.

Hedgehogs can also develop skin problems if their cage is not kept clean, while guinea pigs can develop respiratory problems if their cage is not well-ventilated.

It’s important to monitor their health closely and seek veterinary care if any issues arise.

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