Pet Gerbils Vs Hamsters

...and other small animals

I felt compelled to create this page because I've heard countless people confuse hamsters with pet gerbils. They are different beasts such as mice are different from rats!

I've also heard enough from over zealous pet owners who believe their type of rodent is "the best". I've personally had/have pet rabbits, chinchillas, rats, and hamsters. But I'm still interested in other rodent pets such as hedgehogs and guinea pigs. There's no reason to become close-minded.

Here I'll compare hamsters to some other rodent pets around the same price range, $20. Find a pet based on your interests and needs!

Pet Mice

albino mice
CC Image courtesy of
Deborah Austin on Flickr
Second cutest to hamsters, mice are about the same size as hamsters (3-4 inches). They have elongated features (head, body, tail) but big, round ears that gives them an adorable appearance. They are nocturnal and social.

Young rats look very similar to adult mice maybe that's why people get confused? Many people find mice's baby-like features adorable. They are not as intelligent at tricks and such as rats though.

Pro: Mice are cute and friendly with humans and other mice. Con: They live about 1.5-2 years. And also need to have companions.

Pet Rats

Rats are much larger than hamsters, about 9 inch body length in addition to 7 inch tail. That's about twice the size. Their features are most elongated and pronounced. They are playful with other rats and humans, as well, and considered very intelligent rodents.

gray and white rat

Pro: Rats can learn tricks easily, are acrobatic, and social with other rates and humans. Con: They can have a musky odor and look intimidating to people (...fangy, clawy, tail-y). And they will need a companion.

Pet Gerbils

Pet gerbils can be very similar to hamsters. They are about the same size as hamsters but with more elongated features: face, body, tail. Their maintenance cost is also very cheap. Unlike hamsters, they wake in the day time and their urine is less pungent. They will also make chirping noises (singing).

white gerbil in hideout

Pro: They enjoy being handled regularly more than hamsters. And they become tame and friendly with more handling. Con: They are more ratlike in appearance and more social, meaning you should get at least two.

There are many other small animals to consider in the higher price range. Do research to make sure it's a pet you'll love on the long run. Here's a list of some other popular small pets:

  • Ferrets - very playful, escape artist
  • Hedgehog - spunky and cute at the same time but pricey
  • Chinchilla - lives over 15+ years but pricey and huge commitment
  • Guinea Pigs - adorable but you have to have a taste for their "oinking"
  • Rabbits
  • Sugar Glider

Top Questions:

  1. Creative name ideas?
  2. How long do they live?
  3. How much do they cost?
  4. How to convince my parents to let me get a pet hamster?
  5. Can you recommend a hamster breeder?