While pets like guinea pigs and rabbits are portrayed as the perfect pets – there are often a lot of misconceptions about how to raise them and look after them. One of which is how they get along with one another. Is it safe to place them in the same cage, let them play together, and so on? Having owned both of these pets over the years this topic has always been at the forefront of my thoughts. So I decided to conduct some research which I would like to share with you today.
So, do guinea pigs and rabbits get along? Generally, these animals should be okay when together if closely supervised and for small periods of time. However, they should never be housed together in the same cage and there are some major differences in their behaviors, needs, and requirements which mean they are best suited to being apart.
Let us now explore this topic in greater depth, looking at why these animals are not best suited to one another and some consolations if you have, or are looking to have, both guinea pigs and rabbits as pets.
Guinea Pigs and Rabbits
Nothing is cuter than two different animals who are friends with each other. It also makes life easier and in certain situations can help reduce the cost!
Unfortunately, in most situations, creating friendships is something that you will likely be able to foster. Despite what some pictures or news stories will lead you to believe.
The result is that many new pet owners walk into pet parenthood with false expectations.
While sometimes this leads to a little disappointment, it can also leave to more sinister expectations on how their pets should be raised.
The majority of the time, pairing two very distinct species of animals together is not possible as it is an incompatible match. This is not something you should be experimenting with.
Rabbits and guinea pigs are, unfortunately, one such popularized match that should be mostly avoided.
Although they shouldn’t kill each other and can often be introduced to one another, there are a number of reasons why these pets should not be housed within the same cage and should be kept apart more often than not.
Can You House Guinea Pigs and Rabbits Together?
Back in the day, vets used to recommend that you offer guinea pigs as companions to unneutered rabbits. This was a common practice as rabbits reproduced way too quickly and got a little territorial with other “competitors.”
This was done because guinea pigs were seen as better companions than nothing, and the neutering process had a lot more risk involved.
With modern technology, the know minor surgery is no longer seen as such a risk.
Experts who look at the community dynamics of guinea pigs and rabbits as roommates have opted to end this and it is no longer a normalization. It is largely known seen as an outdated practice.
For the most part, guinea pigs and rabbits sharing an enclosure is just not a great idea.
Both pets are social and have similar needs, but their behaviors are dramatically different. This can cause problems.
The first thing to address is their similar needs.
Their needs have a lot of overlap, especially when it comes to housing. They are not identical though.
Contrary to popular belief, rabbits and guinea pigs are not that closely related to each other.
Guinea pigs are rodents (like mice, rats, and hamsters). Rabbits were removed from this family in the early 1900s and now belong to the Lagomorpha (including hares and pikas).
Although a lot of their pellet foods are similar, there are some major differences in dietary requirements.
Guinea pigs need to supplement vitamin C whereas rabbits can synthesize it properly and will become sick if they eat too much of it.
One of the bigger problems involves aggression breaking out. Whenever two animals are enclosed together you have the chance of bullying happening.
It is already a difficult enough thing to deal with when it is between two guinea pigs or two rabbits -but when combined, it’s a bit of an unfair battle.
Rabbits – even the smaller types are bigger than guinea pigs. They have larger incisors, stronger legs, and are the larger bodies. It is very easy for them to beat a guinea pig in a fight.
Although they may start off all friendly and close, it won’t take long for a rabbit to figure out where he lies in terms of domination. It may be all fun and games until mealtime strolls around.
They both tend to get a little possessive of food and rabbits have the sheer advantage. Their dominating features would actually lead to a good amount of damage being caused to the guinea pigs.
Their teeth can easily break the skin and their legs can break bones. On the reverse side, even if a guinea pig isn’t winning this fight, he can do some damage to a rabbit when he has to.
Wounds can get infected and the entire situation can be very stressful. It doesn’t have to be a full-out battle to be stressful though.
A rabbit may think that it’s just playing when it is jumping or pushing around. What spells fun for an energetic, hoppy rabbit does not spell fun for a timid guinea pig.
Accidents happen, and injuries will likely incur even if they’re unintended.
What’s even more upsetting is that they don’t even fulfill each other’s socialization needs. Both animals require a companion to keep them entertained and out of depression.
Some countries even consider it animal cruelty to house these animals without their kind.
Trying to use a guinea pig- rabbit combination as a substitute for the rightful companions doesn’t work properly.
They have different methods of communication and may become frustrated with one another.
Consider it this way. Imagine if you were locked alone in a house to live out your life. We may joke that it would be better to spend your time with a dog than another person – but research shows we often don’t mean it.
A dog offers a special kind of support and is better than nothing. At the same time, they don’t offer us in-depth conversations like a fellow human does and would.
Guinea pigs and rabbits are the same. They need friends (of the same family of species) that whom they can communicate.
Can Guinea Pigs and Rabbits Live Together?
While the above sounded very dramatic, it is important to stress that these animals are not natural enemies.
Having both of them under the same roof is not the end of the world. They just need separate cages.
This will naturally keep them apart and will ensure that neither your guinea pig nor your rabbit sees the other as a threat or is impacting their day-to-day lives in any way.
Can Rabbits and Guinea Pigs Live In The Same Room?
Guinea pigs and rabbits are often fine in the same room. They may begin to get curious about one another after time too ad they start to understand and learn about their new home and environment.
The two animals are relatively quiet and should not disturb each other too much. Just remember to not have their cages directly touching each other.
Although the cages can be close with no problems at all, when they are in direct contact they may nip at each other.
If your guinea pig or rabbit were to stick their nose, leg, or ears where they didn’t belong, this could spell some intense trouble.
Can You Introduce a Guinea Pig to a Rabbit?
You may have noticed them being housed together at some pet shops.
Although this is not the safest practice, housing the very young rabbits with guinea pigs temporarily is often rather safe.
Unless you have a particularly territorial pet, you don’t need to worry about them fighting when they are with each other for short periods of time.
If you are supervising the animals while they are together, you can introduce the two.
They can even share an outdoor pen or a floor session – just make sure not to take your eyes off of them – even for a minute.
If you want to place them in a pen, ensure that it is large enough for them to disperse and go their own separate ways.
You also want to be able to jump in at any moment so it should be easy to get in and out of.
The Midwest Foldable Metal Exercise Pen available on Amazon is amazing for this and it’s very respectably priced too.
- Each panel measures 24"W x 24"H, Exercise Pen / Pet Playpen folds flat for convenient storage
- Exercise Pen provides 16 square feet enclosed area (1.5 meters) for your dog & other pets
- 8 ground anchors for outdoor use and 4 thumb-snaps for easy assembly included with Exercise Pen / Pet Playpen
- Durable black e-coat finish on the Exercise Pen / Pet Playpen provides long lasting protection against rust and outdoor elements
- Easy set-up & no tools required for assembly. Exercise Pen includes 1 year manufacturer's warranty
The introduction you give them should be very gradual. Start with letting them see each other and slowly wean your way into letting them get near each other.
The process should be similar to introducing other pets (and you should have less to worry about in this situation than trying to get a dog and cat to be friends).
You will find that it is helpful if you have another person and you can each handle one animal at a time.
If this is not possible, you can also just keep one animal in the cage and let the other walk around and examine it.
You should not expect them to be best friends immediately. Like with people, companionship often takes time.
If you regularly let them interact with each other and if all goes well, you may find that they begin to look forward to seeing one another.
It is also preferable to introduce them to one another as early in their respective lives as you can.
The ideal scenario would be when they are both young as this is when they are the most inquisitive, they are at their least aggressive and they cannot inflict as much damage in the rare case that they were to attack.
If you feel that they are not getting along or are not comfortable with trying to make it work, it is not recommended that you push it.
It will just add additional stress to the animals for no reason. They will be perfectly happy watching each other from afar.
Guinea pigs and rabbits are loving animals who love to socialize. That being said they are both very unique in their own right and have their own needs and preferences.
They do not interact with other animals as we would always expect and we have to consider their own natures and way of life.
Guinea pigs and rabbits do not live with each other in the wild. There’s a reason for that.
If you do want your guinea pig and rabbit to interact, do so with caution, supervision and be close and nearby at all times. Keep them contained in a pen but with enough room to disperse and go their own ways.
You’ll likely find that they get on when they are in each other’s company briefly and momentarily.
This is especially true if they are young and have been socialized before. However, even then any extended period of time is not advised.
Caging them separately is strongly recommended. Don’t take the risk – you could regret it.
And the same advice could be given for other animals and pets, such as hamsters, for instance.
I am a practiced pet owner with decades of experience owning a number of different pets. I am also the main writer and chief editor here at Pet Educate; a site I created to share everything I’ve learned about pet ownership over the years and my extensive research along the way.