Gerbils and guinea pigs are very different animals with very different needs. Below we’ve listed some of the differences between these species, as well as some of the similarities. In general, guinea pigs are larger, delicate rodents that need a large flat area to run around in, as well as fresh food to be provided on a daily basis. Gerbils need a smaller floor space but higher vertical space, and they do not require a run or daily fresh food. Neither of these animals are suitable pets for children under the age of ten or eleven, and even owners over that age always will require supervision by an adult.
Gerbils and guinea pigs have very different requirements as pets
Both are small mammals that need to be kept in a safe, quiet area free from other animals. These little creatures can become very stressed if kept in areas with animals such as cats and dogs, or ferrets. All experts say that species should never be kept in an enclosure with different species, such as rabbits or rats - when giving your pet a friend, make sure that they’re the same species.
Both of these animals need to be kept in pairs or groups. They are both very social animals who need a friend of the same species to talk to in order to be happy.
These animals both need a dry food and regular fresh food. The dry food will be the main portion of their diet and it will provide them with many different vitamins and minerals, so it’s important to pick a good type and to supply it in the correct amounts.
Both species will need a lot of bedding material to make little bedding areas and nests out of
Guinea pigs will need a much larger, flat area to run around in. They need a hutch and a run in order to get the exercise they need as they are much larger than gerbils, and not as agile
Gerbils need a lot more vertical space than guinea pigs. This will need to be filled with bedding so that they can satisfy their strong urge to tunnel and dig. Guinea pigs like tunnelling too, but they don’t always need very very deep bedding to do this - plenty of hay bedding will be just fine.
Guinea pigs need a lot of fresh food every day. They can’t make key nutrients such as vitamin C, so this needs to be supplied on a daily basis through the provision of fresh food.
Guinea pigs can be kept outside when the weather permits it. Depending on where you live, you will need to make a judgement call as to when is a good time to move your guinea pigs indoors. Read our Guinea Pig Guide for more information on where to keep guinea pigs.