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Chinchilla VS. Guinea Pig: Which Pet Is Right For You?

chinchilla vs guinea pig

Getting a pet is a big responsibility and one that you will have for years. And when there are so many good options it's hard to commit! We’re glad to see you’re doing your research. Today we have chinchilla vs. guinea pig: the pros, the cons, and the adorable pictures. 

And although these two pets hang out together in our minds, they are actually quite different from each other!

chinchilla vs. guinea pig

Care Requirements of Chinchillas VS. Guinea Pigs 

The more you know about the lifestyle of these pets, the better you can determine which will fit in with your lifestyle. What may be a pro to you could be a con to someone else. There’s a pet for everyone out there.

chinchilla vs guinea pig

Size and Lifespan

Guinea pigs are usually less expensive initially but chinchillas cost the same amount as far as long-term care goes. So consider how long these animals live when you’re figuring out the cost of your pet!

Life Span



Guinea Pig

5-10 years

8-10 inches

2-2.5 pounds


10-15 years

9-15 inches

1-2 pounds

Housing Needs 

Chinchillas are the athletes. They love to climb and jump so they’ll need a larger enclosure than a guinea pig. Especially in the vertical direction.

chinchilla ledge

4’ X 4’ X 3’ is the minimum size you can use for a chinchilla. A guinea pig needs at least 5’ X 2’. With both pets, the bigger the better. Just remember that chinchillas need that vertical space in their enclosure for ledges!  


Both guinea pigs’ and chinchillas’ main food source is low-calcium grass hay like Timothy hay or orchard grass hay

Guinea pigs need more vitamin C than chinchillas do so they’ll need fresh food and fortified pellet food as a supplement to their diet. 

Chinchillas don’t have as many food options as guinea pigs do. Guinea pigs can eat quite a bit of the fresh food you probably have around your house. A chinchilla’s digestive system is a little more particular so they stick to mostly hay with just a few approved treats

Goji berry, please! 


Some long-haired guinea pigs need significant grooming to keep their hair clean and dry. Short-haired guinea pigs don’t need much and a chinchilla needs even less. They’re very clean animals and do a lot of their grooming themselves!

Guinea pigs need their nails trimmed at the very least once a month while a chinchilla doesn’t need their nails trimmed at all. Chinchillas have thin and weak nails that stay relatively short on their own. And chinchillas can also chew them off themselves.

Activity Levels

Chinchillas are more active than guinea pigs. With both pets, their most active time is at dawn and dusk. 

Chinchillas usually sleep around 12 hours a day. A guinea pig only sleeps 4-6 hours a day! So while chinchillas are more active when they’re awake, it’s easier to catch a guinea pig awake.

chinchilla vs guinea pig


Both guinea pigs and chinchillas have similar intelligence levels and can learn basic commands. They both can learn to use a litter box and come when called. And they are both motivated by treats! 

Social Behaviors

Chinchillas are more likely to keep to themselves than guinea pigs are. Guinea pigs warm up to humans easier but a chinchilla that is handled from a young age can certainly become comfortable with their humans. 

Both pets love to have companions! If you’re considering a guinea pig or chinchilla, consider getting two. It’s easiest to house two guinea pigs or two chinchillas if you get them from the same litter when they’re young.

Though bonding guinea pigs later can be tricky but not impossible. A guinea pig really can’t thrive on their own while a chinchilla might. So a guinea pig is a little more high-maintenance socially!

Health Issues 

Let’s talk about chinchilla vs. guinea pig smell. Chinchillas actually smell less than guinea pigs do. Their dry and solid poop also has less of an odor compared to that of a guinea pig. 

Both pets have minimal health issues as long as they’re being cared for properly. Chinchillas have much thicker coats than guinea pigs do. This makes them need a cooler environment because they are at high risk for heat stroke when they’re housed in a warm room. 

Due to the chinchilla’s double coat, they should never get wet! They can’t dry out properly and it puts them at risk for skin infections, bacteria, and fungus growth.  

Both pets need an exotic vet who is familiar with chinchilla and guinea pig care. 

Chinchilla Vs Guinea Pig: What’s Easier?

Guinea pigs can be easier to care for simply because information on how to care for them is more available. And guinea pig-savvy vets are easier to come by.

Guinea pigs were first domesticated in 5,000 BC. While 1920 is when commercial breeding began for chinchillas. This means we humans have a long history of caring for guinea pigs and a very short history of caring for chinchillas.

So if you’re new to the pet world then a guinea pig may be what you’re after. And if you have children who want a pet to be more social with them then a guinea pig may also be a better choice. Chinchillas need a little more patience in that area! 

Both chinchillas and guinea pigs make amazing pets. They’re a lot of fun and a lot of snuggles.


Chinchilla research is continuously growing! If you have any doubts or concerns contact your exotic vet.

We are not veterinarians, and none of our information should be construed as veterinary advice.

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