Chinchilla vs Hamster (Guide To Choosing The Best Pet For You)

Chinchillas and hamsters are adorable and make great small pets. But although they are both rodents, these animals have differing personalities and care requirements.

Chinchilla vs hamster, which will be the best pet for you?

Coming up in this article, we have compared chinchillas and hamsters in every important category that is essential for pet lovers. Check out which animal is easier to feed, which will live the longest, and more with the help of the upcoming comparison.

Key Takeaway:

Most hamsters are solitary creatures, whereas chinchillas are social creatures. Hamsters live for 18 to 36 months and need feeding once a day. Chinchillas live for up to 20 years and need feeding twice a day. Both chinchillas and hamsters are omnivores. You must take them to the vet once a year.

Chinchilla vs hamster which of these two animals is the easiest to look after?

Find out the answer and choose your perfect pet with the help of the full chinchilla hamster comparison coming up next in this article.

hamster choose best pet

Chinchilla vs Hamster

Do chinchillas or hamsters make better pets?

Before we can answer this question and help you choose the ideal animal to take home, let’s first get to know these two rodents a little better.

Chinchillas are native to the Andes Mountains in South America. They like cold climates and are often hunted for their very dense and soft fur.

Hamsters are native to different parts of the world. They have stout bodies, extended cheek pouches, and short tails.

Social or Solitary Animals

Which are the most social animals? Hamsters or chinchillas?

Chinchillas are social animals and like the company of their owners. If you have a pet chinchilla, you must make sure you spend time with it every day.

These fluffy creatures also like the company of other chinchillas. They can live in same-sex pairs or in groups in the same cage.

Chinchillas that have been together from a young age get on best. You must keep male and female chinchillas in separate cages unless you want to breed them.

Most hamsters, with the exception of a few species, are solitary animals. It is best you house Syrian hamsters and Chinese hamsters on their own as they tend to fight when in pairs or groups.

Dwarf hamsters can sometimes tolerate sharing a cage, but you must keep an eye on them and separate them at any sign of bullying.

If you want a social animal, choose a chinchilla.

Average Lifespan

Chinchilla vs hamster, which pet will live the longest?

A healthy chinchilla can live for a very long time in captivity. Pet chinchillas live for up to 20 years when you give them the proper care they need.

In the wild, chinchillas live for up to 10 years.

A hamster has a relatively short lifespan in comparison with the chinchilla. Its lifespan does vary slightly depending on the hamster species but is usually between 18 and 36 months.

A Syrian hamster has an average lifespan of 2 to 3 years. Some dwarf hamsters, such as the Winter white dwarf, have a lifespan of just 1 year.

If you want a pet with a longer life expectancy, choose a chinchilla.

Fur Density

Is a hamster’s or a chinchilla’s fur the fluffiest?

Both chinchillas and hamsters are adorable creatures with lovely fur, but chinchillas have even softer fur than hamsters.

A chinchilla's fur has the highest density of all land mammals. Around 50 hairs grow from each follicle on a chinchilla's body, which is why its dense fur is so popular in the fashion industry.

Teddy bear hamsters are very popular pet hamsters because of their fur. Other hamster species also have nice fur, but it is not as dense as the chinchilla’s.

If you are looking for a pet with very thick fur, choose a chinchilla.


Which scientific family are hamsters and chinchillas part of?

Both chinchillas and hamsters are part of the rodent family. Chinchillas, however, are part of the Chinchillinae subfamily. Here are two types of chinchillas still in existence today.

  • Short-tailed chinchilla (Chinchilla chinchilla)
  • Long-tailed chinchilla (Chinchilla lanigera)

Hamsters are part of the Cricetinae subfamily. There are 19 different species of hamsters, but only 5 of them are common pets.

Here are the 5 most common species of hamster pets.

  • The Syrian hamster
  • The Chinese hamster
  • The Campbell Russian dwarf hamster
  • The Winter White Russian dwarf hamster
  • The Roborovski dwarf hamster

Both chinchillas and hamsters belong to the rodent family.


Chinchilla or hamster, which has the easiest diet?

Chinchillas and hamsters are both omnivores, but they have different nutritional needs. Chinchillas must eat a diet that is high in fiber.

In the wild, these animals eat mainly grass, seeds, insects, and bird eggs to stay healthy. Chinchilla pet owners must feed their animals the following food.

  • Fresh grass hay
  • Commercial chinchilla pellets
  • Some fruits and vegetables

Hamsters need to eat a different diet to get the needed nutrition. Hamsters in the wild eat a mix of seeds, cereals, grass, insects, and insect larvae.

To give them the proper care they need in captivity, hamsters must eat a protein-rich diet made up of the following foods.

  • Commercial hamster food
  • Some fruits and vegetables
  • Seeds
  • Some nuts

Chinchillas and hamsters are omnivores that eat commercial pellets and fruits and vegetables.

Eating Habits

Chinchilla vs hamster, which has the easiest eating habits?

Chinchillas must not go more than 12 hours without eating. They must have access to hay to nibble on all throughout the day.

Chinchillas will eat more during the morning and at night, but they will also like to eat small meals around the clock. You must feed your pet chinchillas twice a day, once in the morning and once in the evening.

Hamsters are relatively low-maintenance pets and only need feeding once a day. The best time to feed them is in the evening.

Hamsters are great pets as they only need feeding once a day.

long haired syrian hamster eating


Chinchillas or hamsters, which need grooming?

Chinchillas are great pets as they do not need their owners to groom them. Most chinchillas do their own grooming.

Chinchillas keep their fur clean and remove dead fur by taking dust baths. You must ensure your chinchilla has access to a dust bath at least twice a week.

Parasites, fleas, and other skin issues do not tend to affect chinchillas as their thick fur acts as a solid barrier to their skin.

Most short-haired hamsters will do their own grooming, but long-haired hamsters will need you to groom them once a week. Use a soft-bristled brush to get rid of dirt from their fur.

Offer your hamster a dust bath two or three times a week to help keep its fur shiny and healthy.

Chinchillas make good pets as they do their own grooming.

Health Concerns

Which health problems must you look out for with chinchillas and hamsters?

A common health concern for chinchillas is fatty liver disease. A chinchilla must eat a diet that is high in fiber.

It must never eat nuts, sugary or fatty foods. If it tends to eat these foods or go long periods without food, its body forces itself to convert sugar into fat.

Chinchillas who face malnutrition or who eat a lot of treats can quickly develop this disease and lose lots of weight. This disease is often fatal in chinchillas if you do not treat it quickly.

Heat stroke is a common problem for chinchillas as they do not tolerate temperatures higher than 80 degrees Fahrenheit. Chinchilla owners must keep their pets in a controlled temperature environment in the summer months.

You must take your chinchillas to the vet once a year for a check-up.

Diahrrea, or wet tail disease, is one of the most common diseases among hamsters and is often fatal. It is caused by many factors that cause stress to hamsters, such as cage overcrowding, diet changes, illness, and others.

Skin infections are also common in hamsters. These include abscesses, hair loss, ringworm, and mites.

To keep health issues at bay, you must take your hamster to the vet once a year. If your hamster is old, you must take it to the vet twice a year.

Chinchillas and hamsters can suffer from many illnesses. You must take them to the vet annually.

The Differences and Similarities Between Chinchillas and Hamsters

Not sure whether to choose a hamster or a chinchilla as your next pet?

Both of these small animals would make great companions for you and your family. So, check out the following list of differences and similarities between the two to help you choose the right pet to suit your needs.

chinchilla and hamster

The Differences

These are some of the differences between chinchillas and hamsters in a nutshell.

In this section include a table. In the first column put “chinchillas” and in the second, “hamsters”.

Social animalsSolitary animals
Pets live up to 20 yearsPets live up to 3 years
Very soft and dense furSoft fur
Chinchillinae subfamilyCricetinae subfamily
High fiber dietHigh protein diet
Need feeding twice a dayNeed feeding once a day
They do not need you to groom themYou must groom long-haired species

The Similarities

Here is a summary of the similarities between chinchillas and hamsters.

  • They are both adorable rodents.
  • They are omnivores and eat fruits and vegetables.
  • They take dust baths.
  • They can both suffer from several health issues.
  • You must take them to the vet once a year.

Chinchilla and Hamster FAQs

Looking after a chinchilla is not the same as looking after a hamster. Check out the following FAQs that will help you give the best care to your hamsters and chinchillas alike.

Can Hamsters Use Chinchilla Dust?

Chinchilla sand and dust are very easy to find on the internet and at good pet stores. But it is not half as easy to find hamster dust.

This makes a lot of hamster owners wonder, can hamsters bathe in chinchilla dust?

Hamsters can bathe in products that are labeled for chinchillas. We recommend you allow them to bathe in chinchilla sand rather than dust, as this is low-dust and reduces the risk of respiratory infections in hamsters.

The best bath sand is made of 100% volcanic ash material, is free from toxins, and is virtually dust-free.

Can Chinchillas Go In Hamster Balls?

Hamster balls provide great entertainment for hamsters. Chinchillas love to stay entertained throughout the day, too.

But can a chinchilla play inside a hamster ball?

A chinchilla must never play inside a hamster ball because it will be too small for it. Forcing it into a hamster ball might cause your pet an injury, or at the very least, it will feel very uncomfortable.

A chinchilla must not enter a hamster ball as it will overheat inside it. These play toys are not well-ventilated enough for chinchillas.

Some contain slats that chinchillas could get their feet trapped in.

Are Both Chinchillas and Hamsters Good Pets?

It is tricky to choose between a chinchilla and a hamster.

Are they both nice pets?

Chinchillas and hamsters are both great pets. They are soft and cuddly and are easy to feed.

They do not require much, if any, grooming and only need veterinary check-ups once a year.

You might choose your pet based on its personality. Hamsters tend to be more independent and aren’t fond of the company of other hamsters.

Chinchillas, on the other hand, are more friendly and like the company of other chinchillas and their owners.

Can a Chinchilla Live In a Syrian Hamster Cage?

Chinchillas and hamsters are both small pets, so many people wonder if the housing setup for one will suit the other.

Can your chinchilla live in a hamster cage?

Chinchillas cannot live in hamster cages because they are too small for them. Your pet will need to live in a much larger cage, measuring at least 4 x 4 x 3 feet.

If you have more than one, you will need an even larger space.

Can Chinchillas and Syrian Hamsters Live Together?

Chinchillas and hamsters are adorable rodent pets.

But can they live in the same room or cage?

No, chinchillas and hamsters cannot live together because they have clashing personalities, housing requirements, and dietary needs.

Chinchillas tend to be more sociable with other animals, whereas hamsters are not. Most hamsters prefer to live alone.

Chinchillas need a larger living space that would not accommodate hamsters.

Chinchillas and hamsters cannot share commercial food pellets. Chinchillas need a diet that is higher in fiber, and hamsters need one that is higher in protein.

Is Chinchilla the Same As Hamster?

Hamsters and chinchillas are both rodents, but are they the same?

No, chinchillas and hamsters are not the same.

Chinchillas are part of the Chinchillinae subfamily. There are only two species of chinchillas still in existence, and they originate from the Andes Mountains in South America.

Hamsters are much smaller rodents and are part of the Cricetinae subfamily. There are 19 species of hamsters that originate from different countries around the world.

Choosing Between Chinchillas and Hamsters

So, chinchilla vs hamster, which is the perfect pet for you?

Choose a chinchilla if:

  • You want a more social animal
  • You are looking for a pet with a long lifespan
  • You are after a pet with thick, dense, and healthy fur
  • You want an animal from the Chinchillinae subfamily
  • You do not want to have to groom your pet

Choose a hamster if:

  • You want a more independent animal
  • You want a pet from the Cricetinae subfamily
  • You need a low-maintenance pet that only needs feeding once a day

Did you find this article interesting?

At Oddly Cute Pets, we always strive to provide you with the best articles about taking care of guinea pigs, hamsters, chinchillas, and other pets. For more guides on the housing and dietary requirements of your pet, take a look at our website.

Thanks for reading!

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