Chinchilla vs. Hedgehog: A Detailed Comparison

Chinchillas are cute, and so are hedgehogs. So, the chinchilla vs. hedgehog debate can get pretty overwhelming for pet lovers. Which makes a better pet? Which is easier and cheaper to take care of?

I know how difficult it is to choose between them with all these questions running through your mind. 

For now, one thing I can help you with. Read through the post I prepared for you, and you will figure things out eventually.

Chinchilla vs. Hedgehog: The Differences

Just by looking at the two little critters, you can differentiate them right away because they belong to entirely different species. 

Chinchillas have typically large rounded ears and rodent-like faces. Only two of their species are kept as pets; the short-tailed and long-tailed chinchilla.

While chinchillas are widely present in South America, various species of hedgehogs come from all over the world. Among several species, the African pygmy hedgehog is the most domesticated. Next in line are the Egyptian long-eared hedgehog, the Indian long-eared hedgehog, and the Algerian hedgehog. Such pets are known for their spines which can somehow be compared to porcupines.

With the details mentioned, even though the same amount of effort and attention should be poured out when you have either of them as pets, slight differences in requirements and in the way you take care of them are observed. We will go through these differences one by one. 


Chinchillas regularly feed on pellets and hay with a mixture of treats such as fruits and vegetables occasionally. 

While chinchillas are herbivores, Pygmy hedgehogs are omnivores. Although they mostly eat insects, owners often give them dry cat biscuits. 

Looking into the cost of food, hay as chinchillas’ regular diet is much cheaper than any hedgehog food such as dried cat food, wet dog food, or insects bought in bulk from pet stores.

How Chinchilla is Different from Hedgehog


Chinchillas are usually kept inside a cage. Such a cage should be multi-level and built with excellent and safe materials that they can’t gnaw on. Typically, chinchilla cages are kept inside the household since exposure to sunlight can harm them. With this, they would live fine at regular room temperature. 

On the other hand, aquarium-style tanks are used as shelters for hedgehogs. They have to be kept at a temperature between 70-77 degrees Fahrenheit which means heating your hedgehog tanks might be required. For most, heating their tanks is an additional expense.

With all these preparations for their shelter, both can be quite expensive at first purchase. 

Environment Maintenance

Since both have to be kept at a specific temperature while avoiding sudden changes and extreme weather, cleaning their shelters and areas also applies when taking care of either of them.

Chinchillas and hedgehogs have several droppings daily. Moreover, they may make a lot of mess while eating. The best way to keep their shelters clean is to do spot cleaning and tidy up everything daily. For a cleaner and safer space, deep cleaning is also a must whenever it suits your schedule best.


hedgehog vs chinchilla

Both chinchillas and hedgehogs don’t like being held, however, this behavior can be changed as long as they are trained young. They don’t enjoy being around people as they aren’t fully domesticated like any other pets. 

Now, if we talk about which is more pleasant to handle, chinchilla is the clear answer. With their soft thick fur, you’ll surely love running your fingers on it. Proper precautions should still be observed because their ribs are delicate. But, handling hedgehogs can’t be as bad as you think it would be. Their spikes don’t hurt as long as they learn how to tolerate being held and when the owner also does it properly.

Let’s shift to which pet likes the company more. As known to many, chinchillas like being around other chinchillas; this is why they thrive in pairs, while pygmy hedgehogs are solitary. In most cases, however, human interaction is what keeps them away from stress. 

In addition, having either of them as a pet needs attention. They shouldn’t be considered low-maintenance pets since they have to be monitored every once in a while at least. Their nutrition is vital and any bad food can either cause minor health troubles or be fatal. Be reminded that there is a difference between taking care of them when they are young and when they are adults. Also, in case of any significant behavioral or physical change, seek medical attention right away. Talk to a vet with expertise in exotic animals for diagnosis and treatment.


Out of all rodents, chinchillas have the longest lifespan averaging around 10 years. In some instances, they can even live up to 20 years. On the contrary, hedgehogs’ lifespan ranges between 3-6 years.

Your pet’s life expectancy is a huge consideration before getting any. Choose if you want a company that can only stay with you for a little while, or you may also pick a pet that may potentially stay with you for the next ten years. The choice is yours.

Legality Issues

Just for a heads-up, a few states in the US and other countries do not allow anyone to own particular species of hedgehog. Although owning a chinchilla is typically legal in most areas, some places may prohibit having them as domesticated pets.

Before deciding to purchase any of them, it’s best to check the local laws of your area first to ensure that you are not breaking any of them by letting little critters into your home. 

Final Words

That’s our take on the chinchilla vs. hedgehog debate. Deciding which pet to get can be more confusing than how it appears. The best way to decide is to compare your current lifestyle with your future goals with all the factors mentioned earlier. This way, you would be able to gradually see a clearer picture of what kind of pet you desire to accompany you in the coming days.

Either way, chinchillas and hedgehogs are fun pets to have. You just got to pick which of them matches all your desires and expectations in a pet.