Keeping rabbits and guinea pigs together
A rabbit's best companion is another friendly rabbit. A guinea pig's best companion is another friendly guinea pig. Keeping rabbits and guinea pigs together isn't an ideal combination. Here's why.
Rabbits and guinea pigs shouldn't be kept together
Historically, rabbits and guinea pigs were kept together, providing companionship for each other when neutering rabbits was considered unsafe. Now rabbits of both sexes and male guinea pigs are routinely and safely neutered. This means rabbits can now more easily be kept with other rabbits, so it's not necessary to keep them with guinea pigs.
We advise against keeping rabbits and guinea pigs together, because:
- Rabbits behave and communicate in very different ways to guinea pigs, so if they're kept together they won't understand each other's behaviour. They therefore don't make ideal companions.
- They have different dietary needs - unlike rabbits, guinea pigs can't synthesise vitamin C, which must be provided in their diet.
- Rabbits may injure guinea pigs, either intentionally or unintentionally, such as by kicking them with their powerful back legs or trying to mate with them, which could injure the guinea pig's back.
- Rabbits may bully guinea pigs, which can make them stressed if they can't get away.
- The bacteria, Bordetella bronchiseptica, is the most common cause of respiratory disease in guinea pigs. Rabbits, cats and dogs can carry this bacteria, which can pass to guinea pigs and cause disease. Guinea pigs therefore shouldn't be housed with rabbits, and should be kept away from dogs and cats.
What if my rabbits and guinea pigs already live together?
If they get on well, it's best not to separate them, as this could upset them. Follow these tips to help make sure both animals get what they need:
- Guinea pigs must have constant access to safe hiding places to escape to, with an entrance large enough for the guinea pig, but too small for the rabbit to enter.
- They need different diets, so may need feeding separately to ensure both get the correct nutrients.
- Neuter the rabbit, otherwise they may stress or injure the guinea pig with mounting behaviour or bullying.