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Rabbits vs. Guinea Pigs (A Side-By-Side Comparison)

Rabbits vs. Guinea Pigs (A Side-By-Side Comparison)

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The purpose of this blog is to share general information and is written to the author's best knowledge. It is not intended to be used in place of veterinary advice. For health concerns, please seek proper veterinary care. In addition, as an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

If you’re looking to get a small furry pet, there aren’t many options better than rabbits and guinea pigs. These rodents are cute as a button and can be lovely companions. However, when you look at rabbits vs. guinea pigs, there are some things you should know.

Rabbits are significantly larger than guinea pigs in terms of height and weight. Additionally, they have more personality, and in turn, are more demanding to take care of. For this reason, guinea pigs are a better option if the person that’ll be taking care of the pet is a child.

Read on to learn more about the similarities and differences between rabbits and guinea pigs. We’ve also highlighted which of them is easier to care for, as well as how much it’ll cost to own each of these animals.

Rabbit Fact Sheet

Here are some key facts and figures about rabbits:

  • Average Adult Height: Maximum of 16 inches
  • Average Adult Weight: 2 to 20 pounds
  • Expected Lifespan: 8 to 12 years
  • Grooming Requirements: Medium
  • Trainability Level: Can learn some routines and vocal cues if trained from a young age
  • Exercise Requirements: Time outside of a cage is recommended
  • Suitability for Children: Should be handled by children no younger than six years old

Guinea Pig Fact Sheet

Now that we’ve covered the basic profile of rabbits, here’s an overview of their smaller furry counterparts:

  • Average Adult Height: Maximum of 10 inches
  • Average Adult Weight: 2.6 to 5 pounds
  • Expected Lifespan: 4 to 5 years
  • Grooming Requirements: Medium
  • Trainability Level: Can learn some routines and vocal cues if trained from a young age
  • Exercise Requirements: Time outside of a cage is recommended
  • Suitability for Children: Should be handled by children no younger than six years old

How Are They Different?

Although both rabbits and guinea pigs belong to the rodent family, there are still plenty of differences between them.

Here are some of the most important ones:


The first distinction between rabbits and guinea pigs is how long they’re expected to live. The average lifespan of a rabbit is between 8 and 12 years. On the other hand, guinea pigs tend to live up to 4-5 years.

This is a key consideration to keep in mind when deciding between the two. It’s an indication of the duration for which you’ll be responsible for keeping each animal healthy and happy.

Sleep Pattern

Another difference between guinea pigs and rabbits is the way they go about sleep.

On the one hand, rabbits sleep during the day. These cuddly little guys consider early morning as their bedtime and will take this time of day as an opportunity to get their required 6 hours of sleep.

When nighttime rolls by, you’ll find your bunny up and playing around. Rabbits that are extra-attached to their owners will sometimes snuggle up next to them in bed. This is more common in rabbits that have been with the family since they were young.

In contrast, guinea pigs are crepuscular sleepers. These animals reach the peak of their activity in the early morning. Additionally, guinea pigs don’t sleep much at all. A typical day in the life of a guinea pig involves staying up for up to 20 hours.

Another interesting fact about guinea pigs’ sleep habits is that they only sleep for a couple of minutes at a time.

Required Cage Size

Due to their difference in size, each of these animals requires a cage of different specifications.

For guinea pigs, a 7.5-square-foot cage will do just fine. If you have a pair of guinea pigs, then you should consider going for a 10-square-foot cage.

As for rabbits, a 22-square-foot cage is recommended.

How Are They Similar?

Despite their differences, rabbits and guinea pigs are also similar in several ways. Here are a few of them:

They Won’t Trust You Easily

In the wild, rabbits and guinea pigs are considered lunch by various predators. In turn, these furry critters have the instincts of prey animals.

As a result of this, both rabbits and guinea pigs will initially be very weary of you. It’ll take some time for you to gain their trust and stop them from racing away and hiding from you when you get close to them.

However, once these animals stop seeing you as a threat, they can be excellent cuddly companions.

They Have Highly Specific Diets

Another similarity between rabbits and guinea pigs is their sensitive digestive system. To keep these animals healthy, you should provide them with a diet that caters to their exact nutritional requirements.

Both animals eat similar types of food, such as hay and leafy greens. However, they each have different daily requirements for different nutrients.

For example, guinea pigs require a healthy portion of vitamin C in their diets, while rabbits only need a minimal dose of vitamin C.

You’ll need to feed them in the correct proportions to keep them healthy in the long haul.

They Aren’t the Best Choice for Young Kids

Since both guinea pigs and rabbits are small animals, this may give you the impression that taking care of them isn’t that difficult.

While it’s not exceedingly hard to care for these animals, it’s still not a task you should hand to young children.

These animals are quite fragile and skittish, so leaving them unsupervised with toddlers isn’t safe for either the animal or the child.

They’re Social Animals

If you’re considering a rabbit or guinea pig as your next pet, keep in mind that getting only one would be doing the animal a great disservice.

These animals are highly social and need to be around other animals of their kind to stay happy and healthy.

Both rabbits and guinea pigs should be brought as pets in pairs. Additionally, the two rabbits or guinea pigs need to be bonded. You should note that it’s much easier to bond a pair of guinea pigs together than it is with rabbits.

Which One Costs More to Care for?

Rabbits are typically more expensive to own as pets than guinea pigs. However, guinea pigs aren’t exactly as cheap as you may expect them to be themselves.

Despite their diminutive size, guinea pigs can be quite financially demanding. Their food is rather pricey, and they require bunches of bedding and hay over their lifetimes.

The care requirements of guinea pigs will typically set you back between $40 and $60 each month. However, this cost pales in comparison to the cost of caring for a rabbit.

When you own a rabbit, you can expect to pay around $85 per month. This cost consists of expenditure on food, hay, and material for your bunny’s litter box.

Which One Is Easier to Care for?

When compared to other animals commonly kept as pets, rabbits and guinea pigs are both relatively low-maintenance companions. However, if you pit the two together, you’ll find that their care difficulty isn’t equal.

Rabbits require significantly more care and attention than guinea pigs. What you get in return for the extra effort is a companion that’s bursting with personality and provides plenty of entertainment daily.

Here’s why rabbits can be high-maintenance pets:

You Need to Keep Them Company Constantly

As previously mentioned, rabbits are social animals. So, they won’t be content with being left alone for extended periods.

This issue is mitigated a bit if you have two rabbits that can keep each other company. If not, then it’s up to you to fulfill your rabbit’s social needs.

They Need Lots of Exercise

Rabbits are highly active animals. Unlike guinea pigs, they can’t be kept in a cage all day.

You need to take them out for walks, or at least allow them to roam free around the house for at least four hours each day.

They Can Be Destructive

Sure, allowing your rabbit to wander around the house unrestrained will allow it to get its daily exercise requirement, but leaving it to do so unsupervised can have unpleasant consequences.

This is because rabbits will sink their teeth into and chew away at practically anything.

Which One Is Better Suited for Children?

We’ve already established that both guinea pigs and rabbits aren’t the best choices in terms of pets for kids, especially those under the age of 6 years old.

However, if you want to get one of these animals for your child, then you’re better off going with a guinea pig. This is because guinea pigs are relatively lower-maintenance pets than rabbits. They’re also less skittish and prone to injury.

If you manage the situation right, a guinea pig can be a good choice as a starter pet for your child to get them acclimated to carrying the responsibility of caring for a living creature.

Final Thoughts

Are you searching for a pet that won’t take up much space and will add a whole lot of cuteness to your life? If you are, you’ll have a hard time finding more suitable options than rabbits and guinea pigs.

Despite their diminutive size, both animals are bursting with personality and are great companions. However, it may take some time for them to overcome their base instinct of viewing you as a threat and cozy up to you.

Whichever one you decide to make the latest addition to your family, you’ll have a wonderfully entertaining pet for at least the next four years.

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