There is no shortage of opinions when one is trying to decide on a pet, particularly when it comes to a guinea pig versus a gerbil. Both can be wonderful family pets. As such you will likely receive a number of strong recommendations for both. Everyone has his or her own tastes and certain aspects of one animal may interest us more than those of the other and vice versa; and we may be more at ease with a certain species. This is purely a personal preference and should not be considered an indictment of the other.
Regardless of your choice, or your experience with either type of animal, there are certain characteristics you should consider prior to making your election.
Typically speaking, gerbils more lively and energetic than guinea pigs. Pigs are not as spirited as gerbils. They are also more slovenly which is somewhat counterintuitive given their more sedate nature. Nevertheless, due to their nature pigs develop a rapport with their owners much better and more successfully than gerbils. Note that gerbils can be pleasant as well, however they are somewhat shy; conversely given their propensity to develop relationships, pigs enjoy spending time with their owners. As such owners seem to consider them considerably more adorable than their counterparts. One favorable characteristic gerbils do possess is that they are highly unlikely to nip at you. There have been reported cases where guinea pigs have become a little hostile as they had gotten older; although these cases are very rare.
As far as care is concerned pigs will be a bit more expensive. They are typically larger than gerbils and consequently they eat more. Additionally, their innate sloppiness will cause extra work for their owners. Guinea pigs instinctively don’t like to live alone, thus it would be best to have at least two. However, be sure not to co-house guinea pigs with other rodents such as hamsters and gerbils. Doing so can increase the chances of the pig developing respiratory and other infections; also, those other rodents may act aggressively toward the pig. For most owners the additional cost of keeping multiple guinea pigs is justified because of the enjoyment and amusement they and their families get from their pets.
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