Perhaps you are looking for a companion for your guinea pig and wondering if pairing your piggy with a rabbit is a good idea. Or maybe you have both animals and wonder if they can play together?
Rabbits and guinea pigs are both small prey animals with similar behavioral traits, so could they form a friendship? What happens if you put them together? Do guinea pigs get along with rabbits?
As a general rule, guinea pigs do not get along with rabbits. Guinea pigs and rabbits should not live in the same enclosure or play together. Due to different dietary needs, behavior, communication, and health risks, keeping guinea pigs and rabbits together is unsafe and should be avoided.
Despite the calm, passive nature of guinea pigs and rabbits, they should not be housed together. Rabbits can severely injure guinea pigs, even if by accident. They also have different dietary needs and ways they communicate. Keep reading to learn why guinea pigs and rabbits shouldn’t live together and what animals to pair with your guinea pig instead.
Why Shouldn’t Guinea Pigs and Rabbits Live Together?
Guinea pigs and bunnies have quite a few similarities, but that doesn’t mean they would make good housing companions.
Both guinea pigs and rabbits are small prey animals, with generally passive personalities. Still, there are many differences between guinea pigs and rabbits, including dietary needs, behavior, and communication, that make it dangerous for them to live together.
Guinea pigs and rabbits have similar diets, consisting of pellets, hay, and fresh vegetables, but there is one key difference–guinea pigs cannot make their own vitamin C like rabbits. For this reason, they need foods high in Vitamin C along with species-specific pellets with added Vitamin C that is not included in rabbit food.
If these two animals are housed together, your guinea pigs may end up with a Vitamin C deficiency, or your rabbit may end up with an incorrect balance of nutrients in their diet.
If your guinea pig doesn’t receive enough vitamin C, they may get scurvy which includes symptoms such as diarrhea, hair loss, and internal bleeding. If left untreated, scurvy can be fatal. A lack of Vitamin C also weakens the immune system and leaves your piggy more susceptible to infections.
Each animal will also require a different amount of food and different type of pellets to get a balanced diet.
Yet, when these two animals live together, it is difficult to monitor how much food your pets are actually eating since they could be eating each other’s food. One animal may gain too much weight if they are eating more than they are supposed to.
Behavior and Communication
Guinea pigs and rabbits also behave and communicate very differently, which would make it impossible for them to understand each other and bond.
Guinea pigs often use their behavior and squeaking noises to communicate with other guinea pigs.
Here are some ways that guinea pigs play and communicate:
- Squeaking – Usually an indication of excitement.
- Popcorning – A sign of a happy and energetic piggy!
- Zooming around – Often accompanied by popcorning, and also a sign of a happy guinea pig that is full of beans.
- Chutting – A quiet squeaking sound that indicates contentment.
- Chirping – A rare and unknown behavior that may be a sign of fear or uncertainty.
- Whining – A way to communicate with other animals to give them space.
- Teeth chattering – A warning to others to leave them alone.
As humans, we can usually discover what guinea pig behaviors mean, but a rabbit would not understand since they communicate in a different manner, potentially leading to conflicts and fights between the two.
Rabbits communicate by:
- Using distinct body language
Being two different animals with different ways of communication, guinea pigs and rabbits will not be able to understand each other. They can misinterpret each other leading to stress, frustration, and even conflict.
Putting your guinea pig and bunny together puts your guinea pig at risk of catching bacteria passed on by rabbits.
Rabbits often carry Bordetella bronchiseptica and can go their entire lives without showing symptoms. Yet, rabbits can infect guinea pigs with this bacteria, which causes respiratory disease and can even be fatal.
Rabbits are bigger and stronger than guinea pigs and often more active. This means that they can cause severe injuries to your guinea pig.
Rabbits have strong back legs and can injure a guinea pig by humping, thumping, and kicking. There is also a risk of food aggression from the rabbit during feeding times or even when giving treats.
Rabbits are so powerful that they can even kill guinea pigs, accidentally or deliberately. So if you want to keep your guinea pig free from harm, be sure to give him his own space, away from your rabbit.
Can Guinea Pigs and Rabbits Play Together?
Guinea pigs and rabbits should not play together due to their inability to communicate and their different personalities.
Plus, some rabbits will bully guinea pigs when they cohabitate. Rabbits sometimes bully guinea pigs away from the food bowl, so your guinea pig cannot get the food it needs.
Rabbits can also kick or mount your guinea pig, resulting in an injured guinea pig, so it’s best to keep them separated at all times.
Plus, if your guinea pig is close to your rabbit he could be at risk of catching bordetella, as rabbits can be silent carriers of this bacteria.
What If Your Guinea Pig and Bunny Already Live Together?
If your guinea pig and bunny have been living together for a long time and get along, it’s most likely because your rabbit has a very passive personality and they were introduced to each other when they were very young.
In most cases, it’s still safest to separate them and get them each a friend of their own species.
If you choose to leave them together, ensure the environment has safe places and hiding spots for your guinea pig to escape your rabbit. Keep a close eye on them for any bullying, humping, nipping, or chasing. If you notice any kind of aggressive behavior, put them each in separate enclosures.
You should also feed your guinea pig and rabbit separately to prevent food aggression and ensure they eat a healthy and balanced diet.
You should also consider neutering your rabbit to prevent any unwanted bullying or mounting.
What Animals Can Live with Guinea Pigs?
So guinea pigs can’t live with rabbits, but that doesn’t mean they should live alone! Guinea pigs are social animals and benefit from living in pairs.
And although you may think a different type of animal will make them feel more comfortable, the best buddy of a guinea pig is another guinea pig.
While you may consider getting a rabbit to keep your piggy company, these two animals are best kept with their own kind. Rabbits are stronger and pose a risk of hurting your guinea pig. Plus, they have different diets and behaviors. So if you want a safe friend for your piggy, your best bet is to get another guinea pig.