Let’s start with the bottom line: No, you should not house guinea pigs and rabbits together. It may at first seem like an efficient space-saving idea, or a smart way to socialize two kinds of cute, fluffy animals that you love, but none of these reasons justify the danger that sharing an enclosure could cause. Before you find yourself rushing off to your vet, full of regret, here are several reasons why you shouldn’t try in the first place:
1. Guinea Pigs and Rabbits Have Different Diets
Guinea pigs need a diet that is rich in vitamin C. Rabbits are much better at absorbing vitamin C from their food, and in fact can develop illnesses if they are exposed to too much of it. This is why guinea pig food and pellets are designed differently than rabbit food. Rabbits may also have a tendency to bully their smaller counterpart-guinea pigs, which can result in the guinea pig not getting all of the food it needs. This kind of behavior leads us to our next point…
2. Guinea Pigs Are from Venus. Rabbits Are From Mars: Decoding Behavioral Differences
They don’t have the same behavioral habits mainly because they are not of the same species. And since they certainly don’t speak the same language, their communication is, well, nonexistent. Rabbits are larger than guinea pigs, and can easily injure a guinea pig without meaning to. That fluffy bunny of yours may well bully the guinea pig with his or her sharp claws, and when a rabbit jumps around and kicks its powerful hind legs, even when it’s just for fun or exercise, they can injure and overpower unassuming guinea pigs. Buck rabbits may try to mount and mate with a guinea pig, and while the guinea pig can’t possibly become pregnant, it would likely cause the guinea pig stress and/or injury.
3. Why Won’t You Hold Me? Cuddlers vs Loners
When it comes to showing affection, rabbits and guinea pigs differ in their behavior as well. Rabbits bond through cuddling and grooming one another. This is unlike guinea pigs who do not groom each other. Guinea pigs do enjoy spending time with their own species, but they’re more solitary animals and keep to themselves. If you take a rabbit who wants to cuddle, and add a guinea pig who wants to be alone, then you get… conflict! The rabbit can become depressed and lonely, the guinea pig may be irritated, and that’s not the fluffy utopia you imagined.
4. Rabbits Can Make Guinea Pigs Very Sick
One way a rabbit can infect a guinea pig is if they use their sharp claws on them and create an open wound on their eyes or skin. This can lead to blindness and/or infections. Many rabbits carry a bacterium called Bordetella bronchiseptica (as well as Pasteurella), both of which can be passed to an unsuspecting guinea pig and cause respiratory issues. Rabbits can live their entire lives without experiencing symptoms from these bacteria, but for a guinea pig they can mean sickness or death.
5. What if they’re already living together?
Ask any exotics vet, and they will tell you that the best companionship for a rabbit is you or another rabbit. The same goes for guinea pigs. But if their communal arrangement has already been in place, and it’s working out for your pets, then it might be more detrimental to your guinea pig and rabbit if you separate them. Abruptly separating them can cause them stress and anxiety. In order to maintain a safe environment, please take a few cautionary steps.
Monitor the diets of both pets, feeding them separately if necessary. Spaying or neutering your rabbit can reduce their aggressive behavior, and may help prevent the bunny from mounting the guinea pig. You should also provide hiding spaces that only your guinea pig can fit into, so that they can find a safe shelter should they need one.
We hope this has been helpful in explaining why these lovable pets should have their own enclosures. . Some of you might be thinking that you have a large enough enclosure, or perhaps your fluffy friends are an exception to the rule and hey, you might be right. But from a veterinarian’s experience, (and trust us, we’ve seen it all,) it’s not worth the risks.