Can You Keep Rabbits & Guinea Pigs Together?

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Isn’t it strange how some things are so accepted and normal that it’s a bit weird when you find out that not is not advised, but it’s pretty dangerous.

When I was a kid, having a rabbit and a guinea pig in a hutch together was totally normal. Personally I never did – we had one or the other, but never both, but just coincidentally – i didn’t know it was something you shouldn’t do.

As a general rule, keeping two different species in the same space isn’t a great idea.

There are obviously times when it’s necessary – there’s a girl on the House Rabbit Society Facebook group that rescued a bonded pair – a rabbit and a chinchilla. They are NOT suitable roommates, but given their ages, vets suggested that separating them ay do more harm than good.

So I’m not saying that all inter-species pairs need to be separated. Just that it’s probably not the best idea to put them together in the first place, if possible.

Why you shouldn’t keep rabbits and guinea pigs together

If you hadn’t already guessed, it’s recommended that guinea pigs and rabbits aren’t kept together. I tried to find out why the trend even started, but the only information I can find is about how you shouldn’t.

I’m not even sure how long it’s a thing.

I’m assuming it’s for one two reasons.

1 – It was a fashion thing

People already had either a rabbit or a guinea pig as a pet, the other became a popular pet, and people saved space by putting them in the same hutch.

2 – It was easy to farm them that way

Both guinea pigs and rabbits are popular meat animals, and it’s not beyond the realms of possibly that people kept them together on farms. Maybe rabbits worked well as protection, particularly against mice.

Please know that this is a guess, but I’m told that rabbits are pretty good at catching and killing mice. Terrifying but apparently true!

I mean, I’ve had rabbits that would definitely fight a mouse (tbf I’ve had a rabbit that once sent a labradoodle packing), but I’ve also very much had rabbits that confused that vacuum cleaner cord for a snake, so I don’t think she’d pick a fight with a mouse.

Rabbits and guinea pigs have different dietary requirements

Ok, from what I’ve read, this isn’t THAT big of deal, and may actually provide a clue to why guinea pigs and rabbits are commonly kept together.

The main difference between the dietary requirements between guinea pigs and rabbits is that rabbits can make their own vitamin C, and guineas need a supplement.

The general makeup of their diet is similar though: the vast majority should be hay, and then veggies and hay to supplement.

Like rabbits, guinea pigs should be fed pellets, rather than muesli-style mixes, but they’ll need specially formulated guinea pig nuggets, which will be supplemented with vitamin C.

Rabbits and guinea pigs won’t necessarily understand one another

Guinea pigs are generally less skittish and more chill than rabbits and other rodents BUT they’re just as diverse in terms of personality, and are probably just as different in their handling preferences are rabbits.

Rabbits spend a lot of time grooming one another, and guinea pigs are less inclined to do this. Miscommunication can cause fights, and most of the time it won’t exactly be a fair fight.

They may stress each other out

Rabbits and guinea pigs can’t understand why the other isn’t behaving the way they should be, and it can be frustrating when they can’t make themselves understood.

Even if your rabbit doesn’t act violently towards the guines, it can be very stressful for both of them.

Rabbits can bully guinea pigs

I mean, rabbits are quite capable of bullying other rabbits, so they’d have no problem dominating a guinea pig.

Whilst it’s not exactly pleasant being bitten or scratched by a guinea pig, rabbits are much stronger and could do serious damage to or even kill a guinea pig.

What if I already have a rabbit and guinea pig together?

If they’re happy together, it might do more harm separating them than keeping them together. If they’ve had issues though, or don’t seem happy and content, separate them, and try to find each of them a friend of the same species.

Will a rabbit attack a guinea pig?

Yes. To be honest, rabbits will have a go at attacking anything if they think they could win.

Rabbits don’t play around when it comes to fighting. They can do serious damage with their claws, teeth, and hind legs. Guinea pigs don’t have the weaponry to back them up.

Will a rabbit makes a guinea pig sick?

Some animals, including rabbits carry a bacteria called Bordetella bronchiseptica in their respiratory tract that can easily pass to guinea pigs if they kept in close quarters.

If you already have a guinea pig and a rabbit pair, make sure they have a large pen and adequate airflow. Obviously, a small traditional rabbit hutch isn’t sufficient. Rabbits run around a lot, and if they don’t have room to do so, they could risk kicking a guinea pig. The small space would also encourage them to bully a guinea pig.

What animals can live with rabbits?

I would advise keeping rabbits with other rabbits.

Whilst it’s possible to keep different species together in one house, rabbits benefit from having a friend of the same species.

There are exceptions to this, of course. Some rabbits bond strongly with humans, some are happy to live alone, and others will sleep in the dog’s bed with the dog.

Ideally though, all rabbits should have a rabbit friend. Bonding two animals together is rarely easy, and dropping another species into the mix will just make it harder.

Under what circumstances can you keep a rabbit and guinea pig together?

As I already mentioned, if you have a pair already and they’re happy, it may be kinder to keep them together – just make sure that your rabbit has room to run around and your guinea has somewhere to retreat to. You need to keep their dietary differences in consideration too.

I would be happy to adopt a guinea pig and a rabbit if a rescue thought it would be kinder to keep them together, but after Daisy and Holly, I’m well versed in keeping a bonded pair where one is much weaker than the other.

Final thoughts

No one’s saying that people that keep guinea pigs and rabbits together are horrible people.

Like I said at the start – it was a totally normal thing to do thirty years ago, and vets didn’t have the chance to say that maybe it wasn’t the best idea, because people didn’t take small animals to the vets that much.

it’s just important to remember that they have different requirements for a happy life. A lot of their care is similar – they both need a lot of hay, produce cecotrophs, and don’t like hot weather.

But there are key differences that could cause issues.

Obvs, we have to generalise, but usually, rabbits, though delicate in a lot of ways, are big and strong physically compared to guinea pigs.

Guineas pigs are much less susceptible to going into shock than rabbits, though their bodies are more fragile.

The point is that they’re different, and would both be happier if they were bonded with their own species. Just because they can live together doesn’t mean they should.

It’s not like guinea pigs and rabbits are banding up in pet shops and demanding to be adopted together. We just, I don’t know, think they look cute together or something, and made it happen.

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