Can guinea pigs and rabbits live together? There are many similarities between our beloved guinea pigs and the fluffy cuddly rabbit. It would make sense that they could live together. They both live outside in hutches or inside in cages. They both love hay and require a similar cleaning schedule.
Find Out More:
- Why Guinea Pigs And Rabbits Shouldn’t Be Kept Together
- What To Do If Your Guinea Pigs Already Live With Rabbits
- How To Provide Company For Your Guinea Pig
- Keeping Your Guinea Pig Happy and Healthy
Why Guinea Pigs And Rabbits Shouldn’t Be Kept Together
Guinea pigs and rabbits should actually never live together! It’s dangerous and extremely unsafe for both the rabbit and guinea pig. Historically guinea pigs and rabbits were advised to be kept together to provide one another companionship. Fortunately, more research has taken place over the past decade in order to understand both guinea pigs’ and rabbits’ basic needs. There are several main reasons why it is dangerous to keep guinea pigs and rabbits together:
Firstly and most importantly guinea pigs and rabbits actually speak a different language to each other! Many people assume rabbits belong to the rodent family (like guinea pigs). Research has determined that this is not the case.
Guinea pigs and rabbits will actually become more lonely if housed with each other since they can’t understand each other’s verbal and non-verbal communication skills! The lack of communication between the two will also lead to unnecessary stress plus can encourage fights.
To learn more about how guinea pigs communicate, head over to our behaviour section.
Now we understand that guinea pigs and rabbits are actually different species, it comes as no surprise that they have completely different nutritional needs.
Guinea pigs are unable to synthesise Vitamin C whereas rabbits can. Providing one bowl of food to cater for both pets will result in the guinea pig becoming malnourished due to not enough Vitamin C or the rabbit being exposed to too much Vitamin C. (See our section on guinea pig nutrition)
Whilst providing separate food bowls, one for each pet seems like an ideal solution, rabbits are notorious for becoming protective of food.
The rabbit will instinctively bully the guinea pig away from both food bowls which will prevent the guinea pig from obtaining any nourishment. This leaves them suspectable of illness and disease.
Rabbits are much larger, stronger animals than guinea pigs. In nature, rabbits perform a lot of back legs “ground thumping” plus they often jump high and flash their tails. These are all-natural behaviours that rabbits use in the wild to alert others of perceived dangers.
An intentional or unintentional kick from a rabbit to a guinea pig can be devasting often resulting in injury or even death. This is why guinea pigs and rabbits should never live together.
As mentioned previously, rabbits can also bully guinea pigs due to their larger size and greater strength. This behaviour isn’t just reserved for meal times either. Rabbits like to show who’s in charge and this will undoubtedly stress out the humble guinea pig.
Guinea pigs can easily become stressed and will instinctively seek out a secluded corner or tunnel to hide in and get away. If the piggie is unable to get away from the threat then the stress increases which will result in an unwell guinea pig.
Rabbits also have sharper claws than guinea pigs. This can result in guinea pigs’ faces or bodies being scratched and injured. These stretches can lead to loss of guinea pig eyes, ulcers and infections occurring.
There have also been cases where rabbits have attempted to make with guinea pigs resulting in serious injury and distress.
In the wild rabbits can run the equivalent of 30 tennis courts every day! Our guinea pig’s little legs are unable to carry them that far if they wanted to journey that far from their food bowl!
This huge space requirement that rabbits need often leave them frustrated with sharing a smaller space with a guinea pig. Rabbits require adequate space to run, jump and hop! A slow-moving guinea pig can often get injured by simply being in the way or a rabbit running around.
Rabbits can a bacteria are known as Bordetella Bronchiseptica. This bacteria lives harmlessly on rabbits (and cats and dogs). However, if a guinea pig is exposed to this bacteria it can cause respiratory disease. Respiratory disease in guinea pigs can be fatal and is a serious illness.
What To Do If Your Guinea Pigs Already Live With Rabbits
The RSPCA advise keeping guinea pigs and rabbit separately. But what do you do if you already have guinea pigs and rabbits housed together? Ideally, you would separate them and continue caring for them but in their own separate enclosure.
If you absolutely have to keep them together then follow the tips below:
- Ensure the enclosure in which your rabbits and guinea pigs live is as big as you can make it. The bigger the better here works best.
- Provide two separate food bowls– one for your rabbits and the other for your guinea pigs.
- Keep a constant watch over them. Watch out for signs of bullying, injuries and signs of depression in your guinea pig.
- Provide plenty of treats for your guinea pig and for your rabbit. If they have their own treat they are less likely to want the other ones one!
- Ensure the enclosure contains plenty of hiding places for your guinea pig. In particular tunnels and natural hiding edible huts.
- Toys and plush beds should be provided for your guinea pig to stop them from getting stressed.
- Ensure your rabbit is spayed/neutered.
How To Provide Company For Your Guinea Pig
Guinea pigs are extremely social creatures so there are plenty of ways to provide companionship! Guinea pigs love spending time with you and other piggies:
- Guinea pig play time – this is essentially a time when you get out your piggies and play! Place your guinea pig on your lap and have fun talking to them and giving them lots of strokes!
- Guinea pig floor time – create a piggie-safe place and let your piggies go free! This is an amazing time to watch how your piggie moves and enjoy playing with them.
- Guinea pig friends – guinea pigs should always live with other guinea pigs. The only exception is if you have a rescue who has only lived alone or own an exceptionally aggressive piggie. Guinea pigs love to play with each other, it’s good for them and it’s great fun to watch!
Keeping Your Guinea Pig and Rabbits Happy
Guinea pigs and rabbits should never be housed together for their own safety and well-being. If you really want to own both rabbits and guinea pigs then our advice would be to have indoor guinea pigs and outside rabbits.