You may think that a cage is a cage and it doesn’t matter what animal it has on the ad. That isn’t always the case. Some cages are just not suitable for more than the animal they are designed for, and I will let you know why. It is also not a good idea to put two different species of animals in the same cage.
Chinchillas should never share the same cage. These two animals are have very different needs in regards to diet, space, and ability to climb and run. A short guinea pig cage wouldn’t suit their needs. It would leave them very unhappy and stressed.
Chinchillas need to be able to jump and climb, therefore, they need a cage with multiple layers and shelves that they can jump to and from. With ladders that they can climb up. So a short long guinea pig cage wouldn’t suit their needs. It would leave them very unhappy and stressed.
A Guinea pig needs more room to run, and with ladders, it could do better in a chinchilla cage than the other way around. However, guinea pigs are not the jumpers and will be just as happy with a cage that has the floor space to run without having different levels.
You should never put both in the same cage as they will see each other not as friends but as rivals. They are both food hoarders and will see this as a reason to fight. They both have long sharp teeth and can do fatal damage to each other. They also each have their own needs that make them not suited to the same cage.
Issues With Diet
Both chinchillas and guinea pigs need to have fresh water available, the guinea pig will drink a lot more than the chinchilla will. They both also need to have a continuous supply of hay available. This hay is the main source of food for both of them.
However, their needs change drastically from here. The chinchilla doesn’t eat much food with a lot of water in it, and the guinea pig does. The chinchilla doesn’t need a vitamin C supplement and the guinea pig does. The chinchilla shouldn’t have a lot of fresh fruits and vegetables and the guinea pig thrives on them.
There are things that one can eat that are detrimental to the health of the other, it is a good idea to feed each of them the foods they require and so it is not a good idea to house them together where they may end up eating something that can harm them, or not getting something that they need.
As these two animals are totally different species they will not recognize the body language or the vocal noises of each other. You can not tell what one is wanting or expecting if you can’t understand them, That is where these two will find themselves. Confused and defensive and can cause a fight to break out.
Although they are similar in size the guinea pig is stouter and heavier, and the chinchilla has a frailer body structure. With fur slip, the chinchilla may be able to get away but it could end up very badly for them both in the end.
Proper Cage Size For A Chinchilla vs Guinea Pig
The cage size for a single chinchilla is 24” X 24” and needs at least 2 stories and the more height you can get the better. There should be multiple shelves that your chinchilla can perch on. And ladders going from one to the other as well. Chinchillas thrive when they can jump and climb from one level to another.
One guinea pig will need at least 7 ½ square feet of floor space, typically 30” X 36” is the smallest, and the bigger the better. They need more floor space but less height, as they mostly crawl around and don’t do the jumping like the chinchilla. However, they do like the condo cages with a ramp from 1 level to the other, it gives them 2 x the space without the cage taking up more floor space.
So although they are similar there are many differences between these two species of animals. And to properly care for either one they have to be cared for separately. Now off to more ways they a similar and different. This may help you if you are still trying to decide between them.
Do Chinchillas Need Bedding In Their Cage?
There are a number of bedding options for the chinchilla. A fleece liner seems to be the consensus on what to use for the chinchilla. This is probably because the chinchilla is not a burrowing animal so doesn’t need bedding to dig into or nest in.
Typically the bedding is to help with their feed and to absorb urine. If you litter train your chinchilla they will not need anything on the cage floor for absorbancy. Also, the fleece liner can be washed and reused. With no storage of bedding, you will gain some storage space back.
The guinea pig is a burrowing animal and will need some kind of shaving in the cage to burrow into. There are houses and things you can put in the cag for them to hide. However, it is still a good idea to give them plenty of bedding, they will put it into their hides, this is what they will want to snuggle into to sleep.
Perches – Climbing Differences
Chinchillas need to have perches, or shelves actually, that they can climb to or hop and jump to and from. This is due to their wild nature and where they come from. The wild ones live in the Rocky Mountains of Chile. Their hind legs are designed for jumping great distances. They can jump 6 feet straight up from a standstill.
The guinea pig is a runner, not a jumper, and therefore does not need anything for this as the chinchilla does. As mentioned they do like the 2 story condo but is for the added flor space not as a way to jump around, they will need a ramp going from one to the other.
Both the chinchilla and the guinea pig will need a running wheel. They will both require a large wheel with a wide running surface. Preferably one made of metal, to prevent chewing. The wheel will also need to be solid without slats to get their toes caught in.
It is essential that they have the wheel as it is the only way they can run at their to speeds. Even out at playtime, they will usually not have enough space to get up to speed and keep it there. This exercise is crucial to their health and mental well-being.
Both of them are most active at dusk and dawn, and active during the night as well. They can break this habit if they are kept up during the day and become accustomed to it. The guinea pig adjusts to this easier than the chinchilla. The chinchilla will become stressed easier, and stress can cause them other health issues.
While very similar the chinchilla and the guinea pig are very different pets. Each has special needs and should not be forced to live an unnatural way together. Decide which one best suits your home and family. Don’t ever get both and try to make them share the same space. That isn’t fair to either one.