Pet Guinea Pigs Vs Pet Rats

Guinea pigs and rats are among the many rodent pets that you can keep in your home. If you’re thinking of getting one of the two or both, it’s important to have a deeper understanding of these pets.

When thinking about guinea pigs vs rats you have to consider:

  • Lifespan
  • Size
  • Sleeping schedule
  • Cost
  • Intelligence
  • Space needed

Along with that, there are other things you might probably want to know when comparing the two.

In this post, I’ll go over what you’ll need to know and how to handle these pets in the best way possible.

Getting any detailed information on guinea pigs vs rats will help you make a decision regarding which rodent pet you should keep.

Comparing Lifespan

When its comes to comparing lifespan for guinea pigs and rats, there’s a significant difference between the two.

The average life span of a guinea pig is 4-7 years while that of a rat is around 2-3 years.

For a pet owner who gets attached to a pet in a deep way, keeping a rat can be a tough thing.

Compared to a guinea pig, the life span of a rat can be really short. However, this isn’t a problem for many people. They value the time they are able to spend with their pet rats.

Comparing Size

The average body length of an adult pet rat is around 9-11 inches. The length of the tail is 7-9 inches.

The average weight of an adult male rat is about 1-1.4 pounds while that of an adult female rat is 0.7-1 pounds.

As for guinea pigs, a mature one can have a body length of about 10-14 inches.

The average weight of a male guinea pig is around 2-3 pounds while that of a female one is around 1.5-2.5 pounds.

Comparing Sleeping Schedules

Guinea pigs sleep for around 9-12 hours a day. The sleep consists of 10-minutes naps spreading across 24 hours.

They are crepuscular, which means they’re mostly active at around the dawn and dusk hours of the day.

On the other hand, rats are nocturnal, they sleep during the day and are active at night.

What this means is that if you love sleeping comfortably without interruptions at night, a rat might not be the best pet for you.

However, if you’re usually up at night, a rat is a pet you should consider getting because they make great company for people that stay up late.

Comparing The Cost To Keep Them

When it comes to the cost of keeping these pets, it’s worth noting that it’s more expensive to have a guinea pig as a pet compared to a rat.

This is because of various reasons. One of the major reasons is that a pet guinea pig has a longer life span than a rat’s.

This means that if you are keeping a guinea pig, you have to plan for regular expenses like regular food or baby guinea pig food, vitamin c, and bedding for twice as many years as you would for a rat.

Also, guinea pigs require a bigger cage compared to a rat, thus the need for extra costs.

Along with that, guinea pigs require hay in their cages, which can get costly over time. So it’s easy to see that rats are cheaper to keep than guinea pigs.

Comparing Intelligence

Pet rats are considered to be very intelligent. They will learn and understand what you’re trying to teach them really well.

When a rat has a problem, they usually have an easy time figuring out the solution.

Guinea pigs are also very smart. They have a good memory and can remember certain voices, gestures, and they can remember each other.

They can also easily retrace their steps. That means they can sometimes remember where they’ve walked before in your house, and they definitely remember every part of their cage.

Comparing Ease Of Training

Both guinea pigs and rats can be easily trained to learn basic tricks and commands.

Guinea pigs can be trained to do things like go through hoops and stand up on their back legs.

Rats can amazingly learn their names and will sometimes come to you when called.

Teaching your guinea pigs and rats anything will take some time, so it’s best to have patience.

Positive reinforcement works best so using their favorite treats to train them will make it easier.

Comparing The Space Needed To Keep Them

When it comes to guinea pigs vs rats, space is another very important factor.

Generally, guinea pigs are bigger than rats, so the amount of space that they require is bigger.

On the other hand, since rats are smaller than guinea pigs, they don’t need as much space.

However, you should still keep them in an appropriately sized cage to allow them to have enough space to live and play with their toys.

Comparing The Need To Live In Groups

Both pet guinea pigs and pet rats are social animals and love living in groups.

They both need and like to keep company around them. The best thing you can do for them is to have a same-sex pair or group.

The idea of having a same-sex pair or group of your pets is good if you don’t want them to start giving birth in large numbers that you can’t easily manage.

Comparing Affection Towards Their Owners

Both guinea pigs and rats are affectionate towards their owners. The only difference here is the level of affection and how it’s built.

For a pet guinea pig, you have to build a relationship with it for it to begin to develop affection towards you.

You may have to wait a good amount of time for your guinea pig to get used to you and grow affection towards you.

As for rats, they can become friendly and social with their owners slightly quicker. They actually like coming out of their cages so that they can play with their owners.

So they both can be loving, but sometimes it can seem like rats are more affectionate towards their owners than guinea pigs.

Comparing Diet

Both pet guinea pigs and pet rats need a lot of care for them to live happy and healthy lives.

For a guinea pig, a good diet is necessary. Some of the foods for a guinea pig include:

  • Hay
  • Fruits
  • Vegetables

They need to be kept in a place without direct sunlight and their cage should stay clean.

A healthy diet for rats is also good and it consists of foods like:

  • Vegetables
  • Peanuts
  • Grains
  • Foods rich in protein

Exercise and play are also important in taking care of rats. Just like having any other pet rodent, keeping their environment clean is also apart of good care.

Comparing Cleanliness

When comparing guinea pigs and rats, knowing how clean they are is important.

To begin with, it’s worth noting that guinea pigs require a bigger space because they are bigger than rats. Although they’re not dirty, they don’t keep themselves as clean as rats do.

You need to constantly clean your guinea pig’s waste. That means you should spot clean on a daily basis.

Considering that a clean environment is good for any pet rodent, rats require attention when it comes to cleaning as well.

That being said, it’s easier to clean up after pet rats because they do a good job of keeping themselves clean. It’s a common misconception that rats are dirty, they’re actually very clean animals.

Recommended: How clean are pet rats – Do they carry diseases

Comparing Time Spent Cleaning Up After Them

When it comes to the time spent cleaning up after guinea pigs and rats, you’ll have to be patient with guinea pigs because they are messier than rats.

When compared to rats, guinea pigs poop a lot more often, meaning that you have to regularly clean their cages.

With a pet rat, you may have to spot clean every now and then but generally, you can clean their cage once a week.

When you keep guinea pigs, sometimes you have to clean up their poop daily or every other day depending on how many you have.

If you live a busy lifestyle and don’t have the time to clean their cage every day, guinea pigs can seem like they’re too much maintenance.

Making A Decision On Guinea Pigs And Rats

Having compared pet guinea pigs and pet rats, you should now have more in-depth information about the two.

Know things like their sleep schedule and the amount of space needed will make it easier to decide which one is best for you and your lifestyle.

Whichever one you choose to keep as a pet, the most important thing is to always take good care of them and you will enjoy your time together.


Hey, I'm Guliana. I really love animals, especially small ones. I grew up having gerbils and guinea pigs as pets and know a lot about them. That's why I'm passionate about writing everything I've learned about them over the years.

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