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Hamster or Rabbit? What’s the Best Choice for You?

Last Updated: 26.02.20


If you want a fun and active pet but don’t want to check the weather daily to find out when you can play with it outside, you can get a smaller one that will be a perfect fit for your apartment. When it comes to indoor pets, some of the most common choices are hamsters and rabbits. However, there are some differences between them that you should be aware of as they have different characters, diet and need to be treated in a particular way.


Basic information about hamsters

Hamsters are quite small companions as they can measure between 2 and 5 inches. Because of its small size, it might be difficult to spot the hamster when it is outside the cage so make sure that everybody in the room knows the hamster is roaming free. Otherwise, it might get severely injured even by a small child stepping on it.

Hamsters could spend their entire life inside a cage as long as the cage is big enough and it has enough obstacles or toys to keep them entertained. Keep in mind these furry rodents need a small amount of exercise but it should be no problem if you get for them an exercise wheel.



Hamsters can live alone

In general, hamsters are not big fans of sharing the cage and should not be kept together. Only the Dwarf hamster species can live with a sibling or two as long as they are all males or females. Nevertheless, they can share the same space only if they have never been separated and share a large cage. This way, they will not fight over toys, food, or space.


Keeping them separated

If you don’t have a cage big enough or often see them trying to fight each other, it is better to keep them separated. This will reduce the hamsters’ stress level and will avoid any unnecessary fights, which can sometimes be deadly.

Despite not showing it, hamsters are prey animals so they are used to running away and searching for places to hide. So the cage should have some good hiding places in order for them to feel safe.


Befriending the hamster

Taming the hamster is not the same as taming a dog or a cat. No matter how much you try speaking or feeding it from your hand, it will take more than befriending a puppy. 

You may need anywhere between 4-5 days to several weeks for the hamster to trust you. In addition to this, the hamster might totally forget about your friendship if you stop interacting with it for a few days.


Nocturnal animals

Hamsters are quite entertaining even though you might not get to see them exploring and playing. This is because they are the most active at night. So if you go to bed around 11 pm and wake up around 6 am, you will entirely miss their most active hours. 


Handle them gently

Because of their sensitive characters, you can handle the hamster too much. Or too little. It is very hard to find this balance even for more experienced pet owners. They will get grumpy if you wake them up and at the same time, they will not take a break in your hands. 



Hamsters’ personality

The personality of the hamster is not quite obvious when they are babies. You will start to notice things about their personality once they are approximately 3 months old. Around this time, you will see if you got an explorer hamster, which is always all over the place, trying to discover new places. 

On the other hand, your furry pet might be one of the laziest and relaxed hamsters. It will walk around without hurrying, stopping for snacks and enjoying the coziness of the cage. Apparently, these are the only two existent versions of hamster personalities.


Basic information about rabbits

First of all, let’s get things straight. Rabbits are not rodents. They are lagomorphs. This means there is a difference in teeth and digestive systems so their food must be different from a rodent’s food. 

Compared to a hamster’s size, rabbits are way bigger. Even the Dwarf species of rabbits are bigger than any hamster. When it comes to the rabbits’ size, you can get anything from Dwarf bunnies to the impressive large Giant types. 


They are social

There is no doubt that rabbits are more social than hamsters. They behave more like a cat than a hamster when it comes to interacting with their owner. They will try to get your attention and might get grumpy if they don’t get it. However, the bunnies’ body language is quite hard to read so you might need some time to get it right.


Rabbits need more space

Unlike hamsters, you can’t keep a rabbit inside a cage its entire life. In fact, it’s considered cruel to do so. You have to let it out often and allow it to roam freely around the house or a designated space.



If you are thinking about getting a rabbit, consider their long lifespan. In general, bunnies live for 8 to 12 years so getting one is a big commitment. If you plan on moving every 2 or 3 years, it might not be the best idea to get a rabbit as a pet. 


Are they aggressive?

Although this is a rare thing, rabbits might get aggressive. However, they will try to warn you that you did something wrong instead of biting or headbutting. If you keep on annoying them, there is a chance they will attack you. 

Furthermore, rabbits are territorial animals. They have the habit of marking every object they believe they own. So their marking list includes the table, the sofa, your legs, and maybe your shoes. To mark their ‘belongings’ they use a mix of pee, pellets, and rubbing their chins onto those objects. 



Food differences

You can’t feed a hamster and a rabbit the same thing. First of all, hamsters could survive on almost anything as they are wild animals with a lot of natural predators. However, they prefer grains. Their usual meals include dry grains, accompanied by seeds and small nuts. A small piece of fruit or vegetable is a treat if they can find it.

They also need small amounts of protein and they might get it from insects or a tiny strip of cooked chicken. But don’t give them a piece of your food as condiments or oil might make them sick.


Rabbits’ diet

We all know from our childhood cartoons that rabbits are big fans of carrots. But is this the only thing they like eating? Fortunately, they also eat a variety of fresh vegetables and fruits and are big fans of the leafy green kind of foods. Actually, rabbit food is quite similar to guinea pig food.

Aside from fruits and vegetables, you must provide them pellets as feed. This type of feed usually has all the necessary nutrients a rabbit needs and they are all combined in a single pellet.

It also has the advantage that bunnies will not be able to eat only their favorite foods so there will be no nutrients lacking in their diet. Keep in mind, rabbits will consume a bag of food way faster than a hamster. 

Generally, a hamster only needs one or two teaspoons of dried food every day and small pieces of fresh fruits. A rabbit must get 4 heaping tablespoons of pellets and a decent amount of fresh veggies and fruits. 


Can they live together?

If you couldn’t decide between a hamster and a rabbit and thought about getting one of each, we have some bad news. It is a bad idea to keep them together, especially if you think they can share the same space.


Their personalities don’t match

The hamster will try to fight anything that enters its personal space but it also gets frightened very easily. This will not go well with the rabbit’s intention to cuddle and they might get into fights.

Because of the ridiculous size advantage of the rabbit, the hamster will get into a subordinate position. There is a high chance it will not take this well and it will try to hide, bite and get stressed out of its mind. Furthermore, the hamster might get deadly injuries during those fights. Being so small and fragile, a bite or a kick from the rabbit could be fatal. 

You can let them interact while one of them is inside of a cage but there is a small chance they will get along. It’s possible the hamster will go nowhere near the rabbit’s space no matter how friendly the rabbit is.




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Irina Ionescu

As a long-term learner and animal lover, Irina helps her readers find the best products and accessories for their pets, as well as the latest training techniques, tips & tricks on how to handle animals.

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