We’ve done several blog posts about whether guinea pigs can get along with other animals, and unfortunately, it’s not looking too good so far! Guinea pigs aren’t able to be around cats and dogs, hamsters, rabbits, or ferrets.
Unfortunately, piggies are very anxious, meek animals that are pretty easily intimidated. Even in the case with hamsters where guinea pigs are larger than them, it’s not a good mix for the two of them. That brings us to today’s topic.
Can guinea pigs and hedgehogs live together?
Once again, the answer is no. We know it can be devastating realizing that from a safety standpoint that your guinea pigs aren’t able to be around other animals. However, it’s for their overall wellbeing, which is important.
There are a few reasons why this is the case even with hedgehogs, but it all boils down to a few important details—guinea pigs and hedgehogs have different requirements when it comes to just about everything as it relates to their diet, their levels of physical activity, their temperament and overall personality.
Origin of hedgehogs
Hedgehogs were first domesticated back during the times when the Roman Empire was thriving, long before guinea pigs were domesticated in the South Americas. They were originally domesticated for their meat, and were later used to prey on common garden pests. Hedgehogs were named because of their behaviors when foraging, including the way they would dig and root through hedges to search for food, and for the sounds it would make while doing this.
Hedgehogs have pretty weak eyesight, so they rely mostly on their senses of hearing and sound when they hunt.
Differences in diet
Similar to the differences in diet for guinea pigs and ferrets, hedgehogs are omnivores. They eat things like insects, worms, centipedes, snails, mice, frogs, and even small snakes. Because these are the things that they tend to eat, hedgehogs are regarded as useful animals and are even welcomed by people who have gardens because they’re helpful for getting rid of pests. Hedgehogs also eat some fruits, grass, leaves, and seeds!
On the other hand, guinea pigs are completely herbivores. Guinea pigs eat a diet of hay, leafy vegetables and fruits, as well as water and pellets. Even if guinea pigs and hedgehogs were able to live together, feeding them wouldn’t be a simple task—it wouldn’t be as easy as setting a bowl of veggies into their enclosure and calling it a day. (There’s also the matter of hedgehogs being territorial, but we’ll get that later.)
Differences in physical activity
Generally, guinea pigs are active from dusk until dawn, with no real set sleep schedule. In fact, their sleeping habits are pretty sporadic and they never really sleep for solid amounts of time. They take what would be considered short naps throughout the day and are active for the rest.
If you follow our blog and the posts we write, you’ll know that guinea pigs shouldn’t use the exercise balls and running wheels that other rodents might use. This is because these kinds of toys aren’t good for guinea pigs’ spines, as they aren’t as flexible as other rodents’ and it can result in damage to their back. Guinea pigs are perfectly OK running around and exploring their cages freely and it can be considered a good amount of exercise.
Hedgehogs, on the other hand, are nocturnal. In the wild, they would do their hunting at night and sleep in the ground during the day. This is why having poor eyesight isn’t something that is an issue for hedgehogs, as they do their hunting in the dark and can rely on their sense of smell and hearing instead.
It’s also important to note that hedgehogs enjoy running, and have been known to run pretty long distances in comparison to their size. Many hedgehog owners even have running wheels for them to use, which can be helpful if you’re keeping a hedgehog in a smaller space but still want to allow them to exercise.
Differences in personality and temperament
As you may already know, guinea pigs are very nervous animals, and usually the only thing that helps with keeping them relaxed and comforted is having piggy companions around them. Other animals can make them pretty nervous and can go as far as stress them out in the long term, which isn’t good for their overall health because it weakens their immune system.
Hedgehogs are also known to be very territorial, and oftentimes aren’t even housed together. They’re not social animals, and enjoy having their own space. The introduction of another animal could do more harm than good for both of them.
While guinea pigs become less stressed when they have other guinea pig companions, hedgehogs actually become more stressed when there are other hedgehogs around. This pushes them into reactions on opposite ends of the spectrum—they either become stressed and withdrawn, or they’ll be aggressive and bite.
If you really want to own hedgehogs and guinea pigs…
We recommend not only keeping them in separate cages and enclosures, but in separate areas of the room, and if possible, in separate rooms. The reason that it’s best to keep them in separate areas and in separate rooms is because they’ll be able to hear each other and sense each other, which can cause stress for both animals.
Remember when we mentioned that hedgehogs enjoy running on exercise wheels? Most of the time, wheels make noise when in use and guinea pigs will be able to hear the hedgehogs whenever they use it, because piggies know the toy isn’t in their cage.
This can also be a problem because guinea pigs are so sporadically active that the noises that hedgehogs make in the middle of the night could interrupt and interfere with their naps, which will make them nervous and result in them not sleeping at all. All animals need some sleep in order to stay healthy, so this would not go well for your piggy.
Please don’t try to let them have floor time together either! It’s not a good idea because guinea pigs will not defend themselves if the hedgehog becomes aggressive or attacks them, and it’ll end up with your guinea pig getting hurt. This kind of experience will be traumatizing for them, and it will affect their overall health as well, aside from the external injuries they may suffer from.
The bottom line: Hedgehogs and guinea pigs shouldn’t live together!
If you really, really want both animals, please make sure to make their happiness and safety your biggest priority by not housing them together. Keep them in separate areas of your home and do what you can to keep your guinea pigs feeling safe and comfortable!