Last Modified

March 9, 2023 by Umair Shahid


Small pets are wonderful companions. But which one? Before entering into the fascinating world of beautiful small cuties, think about your relationship with them.

Do you want a pet that doesn’t mind if you handle them? Do you want a pet that awakes during the day?

Do you want a pet who enjoys your company? Or can you meet their nutritional requirements and other needs of them?

If you want to adopt pets for your children, then you might have to consider their habits.

Like hamster and Chinchillas are nocturnal. So, when your children want to play with them, they will be snoozing peacefully.

Pets like mice and gerbils are very smart and active. They will not be handled by children unless they grab them hard.

Well, it’s great to adopt a pet for children but you should take care of them too. Supervision is necessary in this case.

I was also confused between hamster and degu. Then I did some research and guess what. I find out which one is better for me and why.

I am sharing my findings with you so that you can also find the right pet for you. It is difficult to find the difference between these two critters because they have a lot in common.

At first, it is hard to compare, but with depth, you will note many differences among them. These differences will let you decide which pet suits you the most and why.

Degu Vs Hamster

Hamsters tend to play at night and sleep all day. Whereas, degus are diurnal. They sleep at night and remain active during day time.

Hamsters run for several miles in wild. So they require a large cage. Degus also require a large cage but more space vertically.

There should be different levels of a cage for degu.

What is a degu?

Degus are social, intelligent, and small animals. These rodents are native to central Chile.

They are 10 to 12 inches in length and their weight is between 170 to 300 grams.

If we talk about their size, they are larger than hamsters and smaller than the average rat.

Visually, degus possess a yellow-brown coat. They have long tails, furry ears, and grey toes.

Degu’s average lifespan ranges from six to eight years in captivity. Although, if you take good care of them, they can survive up to 13 years.

What is a hamster?

Hamsters are small-sized rodents. Hamster mothers are very possessive and they keep their babies in their pouch in times of danger.

They are two to six inches in length. They weigh about 6.2 Oz.

Hamsters are larger than mice but they are smaller than guinea pigs.

Visually, hamsters have stout bodies. They have stubby and stocky legs. They have small ears. They have short tails.

 Moreover, they have furry, wide feet.

The average lifespan of hamsters is one to two years. But in captivity, they can survive up to three years.

Degus as pets

Degus are kind of handy pets. They require time, attention, and care from their owner. Degus love to explore and play.

They have curious nature. Degus can be tamed easily by their pet owners who interact with them routinely.

However, degus are sensitive to abrupt movements. They get frightened easily. So, it is important to handle them with great care.

In no time, they become fond of belly rubs and belly scratches. It is advised that they should never be picked up by the tail.

This can cause an anti-predator mechanism in them. As a result, their tail may be shed off. It is a painful procedure for your pet.

Moreover, unlike lizards, their tail will never grow back.

Always handle them gently. They love to explore things. So give them a sufficient number of toys.

Hamsters as pets

Hamsters make excellent pets. Unlike degus, they don’t require much care, attention, and time from their pet owners.

Hamsters are cute, cuddly pets. They are good starters for beginners or children.

But in the case of hamsters, caring is not much difficult. But you should have at least basic learning of their caring guide.

Hamsters don’t need grooming. They groom themselves, often more than once a day.

So, there is no need to comb, bathe, and other bathing supplements. Hamsters can be trained to be held. They have timid nature.

So, during the first times handling, they will be frightened. They are prey animals naturally.

So, when a big hand comes over them and tries to grab them. They may become nervous and can bite you for self-defense.

Moreover, they are fairly independent pets. They enjoy their own company.

 Provide them with good housing, exercise wheels, and toys. And they will remain busy for extended periods.


  • Generally, degus in wild live for only one to four years. Most of them die during their first years because predators hunt them.

Their lifespan in captivity is six to eight years. You can increase their lifespan if provide them with a proper and healthy diet.

  • In wild, hamsters live only for two to three years. In captivity, they can live up to three to four years.

But the average lifespan of each breed is different. The Roborovski dwarf can live up to four years and have the longest lifespan among hamsters.

The Chinese dwarf has the shortest lifespan and it only lives for two years.

Degus are more long-lasting pets than hamsters. However, this doesn’t mean that degus are a better option. You also have to consider other factors.


  • The average size of a degu is 25 to 30 centimeters. This means that they are 10 to 12 inches long.
  • Their size is comparable to the hamster. If you have bought a 7 to 8 weeks old degu, he already reached maturity.

But still, he will take several weeks to grow to his adult size.

Hamster breeds have size ranges from 1.8 inches to 7 inches long.

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Non-pet hamsters can be 14 inches long too. Their average weight is 0.7 oz to 6 Oz.

Cage setup and size

If you own a degu, and you are willing to do a degu cage setup. Then you have to arrange the things for at least two pets.

The cage should be at least 24 by 18 by 24. This is the minimum requirement for them.

If you want to add more degus into the cage. Then also increase the space. Provide them cages of different levels. They also should have ramps leading to different levels.

Hamsters require large cages as they run miles in wild. The cage should be at least 450 square inches. Cages available at pet stores for hamsters are small.

So consider buying a larger cage for another animal. Keep at least six inches of substrate in their cage.

This will ensure that your pet has plenty of space for burrowing. Also, add other accessories to their cage.

These accessories include a water bottle, food bowl, bedding, substrate, exercise wheel, and chew toys.


  • Degus need a simple diet. Their basic diet includes a lot of hay, pellets, and vegetables.

Avoid giving them fruits. Their digestive system can’t digest fruits. Moreover, diabetes can occur.

Because they have Continuously growing teeth, they need something to chew all the time. So do offer them wood sticks, cardboard, and a lot of hay.

Diets high in fat and carbohydrates should be avoided.

  • Hamsters are omnivores. They eat plants and insects both. The best diet for them includes fresh vegetables and protein-packed treats.

They also require hamster pellets, fruits, and fresh vegetables. Timothy hay is also important for them.

Moreover, you can give them occasional treats like nuts, boiled eggs, and mealworms.


There is always a difference in the behavior of rodents. The same is the case with these two pets. They are prey animals and both are afraid of predators.

Bond with pet owners

  • Degus love to spend time with their owners. First of all, you need to gain their trust. After several interactions, they will stop treating you as a threat.

Once you develop a bond with them. They will start expecting your visit every day. Moreover, they will also want a treat from you.

But this Frankness requires time and patience.

  • Hamsters are super shy sometimes. So, you can make a bond with them by treating them with love and care. Coax him with treats.

After several meetings, he may start behaving friendly. Gently stroking their fur is one of the ways to show affection.

You can also hand feed them. Hamsters love to perch on their pet parent’s shoulders. They love to sleep in their owner’s pocket.

Price to buy

  • Degus are not expensive animals. You can purchase a single degu for $20 to $100. Moreover, it requires an additional $5 per month for maintenance.

The setup cost after buying a new degu is around 250 dollars.

  • The hamster itself is not expensive. It costs around $15 to $20. But initially, you need to purchase a cage ( 40 dollars). Moreover, you have to buy an exercise wheel. ( 25 dollars).

So, hamsters are cheaper than degus. The extra expenses are only for the exercise wheel. But you have to pay for it only once.


  • Degus are less prone to diseases. But this doesn’t mean that they don’t develop any disease. They also suffer from diabetes and cataracts.
  • The most common disease in hamsters is a wet tail. In addition to this, they may suffer from dental problems, pneumonia, and skin problems.

A healthy hamster will have a smooth gait, bright eyes, healthy skin, and a shiny coat.

Both pets are expensive in case of a medical emergency.

Sleep patterns

Degus have different sleep patterns. They need almost 9 hours of sleep. They sleep during the night and stay awake during day time.

Hamsters are nocturnal animals. They sleep during day time. They don’t like to be disturbed during their sleep.

They are most active at dusk and dawn. They stay awake at night time.

Advantages of owning a degu

  • Easy to clean
  • Easy to take care of
  • Affectionate
  • Intelligent

Advantages of owning a hamster

  • Inexpensive pets
  • Don’t require training
  • Great pets for night owls
  • Don’t require constant attention
  • Easy to clean

People also ask

Can degus live with hamsters?

No. Degus should never be housed with other rodents. They should not be housed with hamsters, Chinchillas, guinea pigs, or gerbils.

This is because they are carriers of many pathogenic organisms. They can cause diseases in them.

 Moreover, other rodents or small mammals are also carriers of many dangerous pathogens. They can also affect degu.

Do hamsters live in pairs or groups like degus?

No. Hamsters are solitary animals. A few rare species of hamsters may cohabitate. If you keep many hamsters together, it will lead to disaster.

They prefer to live alone. They can become very violent if forced to share their space. Keeping them together will cause nasty fighting.


There are a lot of similarities between both of them. However, Degus are small, intelligent, and social creatures. Whereas hamsters are small-sized rodents.

No matter what choice you make, consider the important facts before choosing.

You have to learn about their behavior, their lifespan, and their price.

Moreover, you should be aware of their diet, their temperament, and their other important needs.

The choice you make depends upon your requirements and priorities. If you have children and they want to play with the pet. Then degu is the most appropriate option.

If you want to interact less with your pet. Then, of course, a hamster is the option. A hamster is also a budget-friendly option.

So, whatever you choose. Make sure it suits you the most and take care of it properly.


I am a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine and have a keen interest in animal health care. Working as a veterinary content writer, I intend to stay with professional approach in producing quality content. I like research-based reading and currently seeking my veterinary profession. My hobbies are travelling to exotic places and observing nature to the fullest.

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