Do Rabbits Kill Guinea Pigs, Rabbits and guinea pigs may seem like the perfect small furry pets to keep together. However, housing rabbits and guinea pigs in the same enclosure poses several serious health and safety risks that animal owners should consider carefully first. This article covers the key reasons why rabbits and guinea pigs are not compatible, what problems can occur, and tips for proper care if you have existing pairs cohabiting together.
Why Keeping a Rabbit and Guinea Pig Together is Not a Good Idea
At first glance, keeping domestic rabbits and guinea pigs together might appear harmless or even beneficial for the animals. However, significant differences in the natural history, behavior, diet, environment, and disease susceptibility make the two species largely incompatible for cohabitation. Housing rabbits and guinea pigs together risk serious illness, injury, stress, or even death.
Rabbits and Guinea Pigs Shouldn’t Live Together
Ideally, rabbits and guinea pigs should live separately in spacious enclosures tailored to their needs. While some owners have managed to house certain bonded pairs of different species together without major incidents, severe problems can unpredictably arise at any time leading to dire consequences. It’s simply not worth the risk to the health and well-being of either animal.
What If My Rabbits and Guinea Pigs Already Live Together?
If a rabbit and guinea pig have safely and happily shared living space thus far without issues, some owners may wonder whether they should still separate them. However, peaceful coexistence can shift to competition, fighting, bullying, or tragedy in the blink of an eye. It is still highly recommended to separate them into proper single-species housing. This protects their health while also allowing their distinct needs to be better met.
So What’s the Problem?
There are three main concerns with rabbits and guinea pigs sharing an enclosure or cage space:
Rabbits and guinea pigs have very different nutritional requirements. Guinea pigs need vitamin C-supplemented food while rabbits require very low calcium diets along with plenty of hay. Meeting both species’ needs in one environment is difficult.
Guinea pigs carry germs harmless to them but extremely pathogenic for rabbits if transmitted. Rabbits also carry the deadly Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease virus harmless to them but fatal to Guinea pigs. Co-housing risks transmitting these pathogens.
Despite seeming well-bonded at times, inherent behavioral differences mean rabbits may bully or trample over more sensitive guinea pigs. Stress, competition, aggression, Territory disputes, and attacks can erupt.
Let’s explore why these three factors make the two species far better off housed separately for their health and happiness.
Proper nutrition is crucial to good health for both rabbits and guinea pigs. However, the ideal diets for each species differ significantly making it difficult to appropriately feed both at once.
Guinea Pigs Require Vitamin C
Unlike most mammals, guinea pigs cannot internally synthesize their vitamin C supply. Therefore guinea pigs have an absolute requirement for vitamin C supplementation through fresh vegetables high in the nutrient. Insufficient vitamin C leads to the disease scurvy causing immune deficiency, bleeding disorders, bone fractures, and eventually death.
Rabbits Need Low Calcium Diets
Too much calcium for rabbits causes deadly urinary tract and kidney problems. Their optimal diet consists mostly of grass hays which are naturally low in calcium. Guinea pigs also enjoy hay but have a wider range of vegetable food sources too high in calcium for a rabbit.
Different Grazing Behaviors
Guinea pigs like to graze constantly throughout the day while rabbits tend to feed more heavily at dawn and dusk. This leads to uneven access to food for the two different species potentially leaving one malnourished.
|Produced internally, don’t require dietary vitamin C
|MUST get vitamin C from food or will develop deficiency illness
|Sensitive to excess Calcium, causes bladder & kidney stones
|Tolerates higher Calcium diet
|Feed at dawn & dusk more heavily
|Constant grazers throughout day
As seen in the above comparison, meeting both pet’s vitamin, mineral, and overall nutritional needs simultaneously is a challenging balancing act. The species are better cared for separately based on their distinct dietary requirements.
Disease Transmission Risks
Beyond dietary issues, housing rabbits and guinea pigs together also opens up huge disease transmission risks harming both species severely.
Bordatella, Salmonella and Strep
Guinea pigs can carry germs like Bordatella bronchiseptica, Salmonella, and Streptococcus bacteria unproblematically. However if transmitted to a rabbit these pathogens cause severe upper respiratory infections, pneumonia, blood poisoning, and potentially sudden death. Easy contamination occurs through urine, feces, or respiratory secretions.
Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease
Rabbits may appear perfectly healthy while carrying deadly Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease with no symptoms. But RHDV is extremely contagious through the air or shared surfaces. The virus does not impact rabbits but is almost always fatal to infected guinea usually within 1-3 days.
Internal parasites like coccidia, ticks, mites, and fleas can jump back and forth between co-housed rabbits and guinea pigs. Some species tend to be asymptomatic carriers while causing illness in others. Shared grooming and living space facilitates spread.
Without stringent quarantine periods, medical testing and sterilization controlling for all pathogenic risks is realistically impossible. Hence separate enclosures are safest.
Behavioral Stress & Conflict
Assuming all dietary and disease concerns are somehow addressed, personality differences and natural behaviors can still cause major issues housing rabbits and guinea pigs together.
Both species communicate through subtle body language and scent signals. But key expressions conveying hunger, fear, aggression, or courtship easily get lost across the species barrier. Misreading cues or inappropriate responses causes anxiety and stress.
Bullying & Trampling
Due to size and activity level differences, rabbits may unintentionally bully guinea pigs. Stomping feet warnings from a rabbit signal other rabbits to give space but frighten guinea pigs. Their long legs and weight advantage also lead to accidental trampling injuries.
Competition & Fighting
Conflicts arise over food, water, toys, and sleeping areas. Guinea pigs are very sensitive so even harmless chasing or mounting for play by energetic rabbits creates problematic situations quickly. Squabbles escalate into vicious fights with bite wounds.
Both species are territorial needing ample personal spaces. Cohabitation crammed into too small a shared enclosure causes territorial disputes. Even after bonding socially, either pet might suddenly display aggressive possessive behavior like cage protection.
Accommodating the distinct social structure, communication methods, hierarchy, play styles, and needs of rabbits and guinea pigs together in harmony is extremely tricky. Housing the naturally incompatible species together usually results more often in discord.
Mine Have Always Got On Fine Together!
Some owners insist they’ve never had any trouble keeping particular rabbits and guinea pigs together. And certain individual personalities can indeed mesh well enough to safely coexist in close quarters. However, the risks outlined above remain even with seemingly bonded housemates. It only takes a single random fight, one bullying scare, or a short-lapse interaction with another pet to transmit a lethal illness.
An owner can never be too vigilant which is mentally taxing. Similarly, rare congenial bonds today could sour overnight as pets age and needs change. Rather than clinging to a false sense of security hoping things continue smoothly, responsible rabbit and guinea pig owners should separate them into proper enclosures meeting each species’ individual care requirements before adversity strikes.
But We’ve Always Kept Them Together!
Owners sometimes rationalize that they have successfully kept rabbits and guinea pigs together for extended periods previously. However, what worked temporarily in the past does not guarantee future safety. Improper co-housing situations are akin to ticking viral time bombs with the pet’s lives at stake. Separation into proper husbandry environments may seem inconvenient and distress-bonded pairs initially. But adapting to new improved, enriched single-species housing is well worth safeguarding your beloved companion’s long-term health and happiness. Give them each enough individualized space and attention – they will adjust and thrive.
So Should They Be Kept On Their Own?
In summary, properly caring for either rabbits or guinea pigs is demanding enough in itself without attempting to accommodate two incompatible species together long-term. Introducing one species to another’s main living enclosure should only occur for extremely brief, fully supervised play sessions at most. Each petite furry friend will be happiest, healthiest, and safest housed long-term solely with same-species companions in an appropriately sized habitat catering to their distinct needs. While admittedly adorable together.
The risky road of permanently intermingling rabbit and guinea pig should be avoided in practice except perhaps for temporary highly controlled interactions. Don’t let a few heartwarming YouTube videos portraying sweet unlikely animal friendships convince you that long-term cohabitation is smart. Reputable veterinary experts overwhelmingly recommend individualized housing care for both rabbits and guinea pigs as optimal.
Holistic Care for Small Furry Pets: Navigating Dietary Essentials, Health Considerations, and Reproductive Wellness
In the realm of small furry pets, particularly rabbits and guinea pigs, a myriad of essential aspects shape their care and well-being. These herbivores, often referred to as plant eaters, have specific dietary needs, including a reliance on hay and vegetables. The emphasis on Vitamin C in their nutrition is critical, aiming to prevent conditions like scurvy. When considering the health of these animals, it becomes imperative to acknowledge potential diseases. Pasteurella, Bordetella bronchiseptica, and kennel cough are among the health concerns that warrant attention.
Comprehensive Care for Rabbits and Guinea Pigs: A Holistic Approach to Companionship, Dietary Well-being, and Behavioral Insights
Ensuring the well-being of rabbits and guinea pigs involves understanding their ideal combination as small furry companions. Companionship is key, yet one must be mindful of their dietary needs to prevent potential issues such as injury or bullying. Neutering is a recommended practice to promote a safe coexistence, allowing them to live together harmoniously while providing separate spaces when needed. Valuable tips on how rabbits behave, communicate, and interact with their companions can aid in creating a stress-free environment.
Dietary considerations encompass synthesizing vitamin C and ensuring correct nutrients, preventing conditions that may result from kicking, mating behavior, or stress. Recognizing signs of potential bullying, understanding stressed behavior, and providing adequate hiding places are crucial, particularly in guarding against respiratory diseases like Bordetella bronchiseptica.
When housing rabbits and guinea pigs together, it’s important to separate them if signs of upset or aggression arise, offering hiding places and accommodating their different dietary needs. Guinea pigs must have constant access to safe hiding places, separate entrances, and feeding areas to maintain their well-being. Consulting vet advice is essential for proper guidance on practices such as neutering and addressing mounting behavior.
In this holistic approach, the intricate balance between companionship, dietary considerations, and behavioral insights plays a pivotal role in ensuring the overall welfare of these delightful small furry pets.
Conclusion: Do Rabbits Kill Guinea Pigs
Caring properly for either species individually demands research, sizeable enclosures allowing natural behaviors like running and grazing, appropriate diets, mental stimulation through toys, and bonding time with humans. Attempting to accommodate and mediate between two incompatible species crammed together long-term under one roof is extremely challenging for even experienced owners and risky at best. Dietary deficiencies, infectious disease transmission jumping back and forth, injuries from bullying, competition stress, and more remain persistent dangers.
No matter how closely bonded previously, separating rabbit and guinea pig pairs into their own spacious single-species housing habitats greatly enhances care standards, reduces stress, and eliminates hazards threatening health, quality of life, and longevity. While supervision for temporary play interaction is fine, permanent cohabitation cannot be recommended. Improper husbandry inevitably catches up with a toll taken on their well-being. So for their maximum happiness, safety, and longevity please house rabbits and guinea pigs separately based on their distinct needs!
Frequently Asked Questions
Are guinea pigs safe around rabbits?
No, guinea pigs are generally not safe sharing space with rabbits long-term. Rabbits can fatally injure, terrify, or transmit deadly contagious diseases to guinea pigs very easily, even accidentally with harmless seeming behaviors.
Can rabbits and guinea pigs live in the same cage?
Keeping rabbits and guinea pigs in the same cage full-time poses major health hazards including disease transmission risks, dietary deficiencies, bullying, and fighting over territory leading to traumatic injuries. They may temporarily tolerate each other but enclosure sharing cannot be advised.
What are signs of stress in guinea pigs living with rabbits?
Guinea pigs stressed by living with rabbits display behaviors like decreased appetite, lethargy, hiding more than usual, fearful posture with arched back, excessive self-grooming, weight loss from competition over food resources, and signs of bite wounds from attacks.
How long can rabbits and guinea pigs play together?
Rabbits and guinea pigs should only interact directly for brief, fully supervised play sessions a few times per week at most. Even seemingly peaceful play can instantly turn to disaster with a painful scrap or fatal disease passed. No unmonitored cohabitation is ever safe long-term.
Is it cruel to keep rabbits and guinea pigs together?
While owners rarely intend cruelty co-housing rabbits with guinea pigs or other species in the same enclosure long-term inevitably causes heightened chronic stress at minimum and potentially life-threatening contagious diseases, bullying, and trauma. Caring properly for each species individually in separate habitats avoids these negligent harms.
What diseases can guinea pigs transmit to rabbits?
Guinea pigs often carry germs like Bordatella, Salmonella, Streptococcus, lice, ringworm, and pinworms with no symptoms but these can prove extremely pathogenic if passed to rabbits through shared living spaces causing hazardous respiratory infection, septicemia, parasites, and more.
Can a rabbit and guinea pig mate?
No, rabbits and guinea pigs are far too genetically distinct ever to produce viable offspring. But hormones may still drive dangerous mating attempts causing substantial injuries due to mismatches in anatomy, size, strength, and courtship behaviors across the species barrier.
Are guinea pigs dirty pets compared to rabbits?
Neither species is inherently dirtier than the other. However, guinea pigs require more frequent cage cleaning and occasionally harbor minor germs harmless to them but potentially contagious to rabbits in shared spaces. Strict cleanliness is essential if housing together to minimize risks but separate housing remains far safer.
What size enclosure do a rabbit and guinea pig need?
Ideally, rabbits and guinea pigs should live separately in appropriately sized habitats just for their species (minimum 8 sf for guinea pigs, 16+ sf for rabbits). If briefly sharing space under direct monitoring, use pens over 16 sf with hideaways, food, water bowls, and litter boxes for each animal. But permanent cohabitation cannot be responsibly endorsed regardless of enclosure size.
Can rabbits and guinea pigs share pellets safely?
Feeding the same commercial pellets poses hazards if formulas are tailored specifically for only rabbits or guinea pigs instead of certified safe for both species. Guinea pigs also require additional vitamin C supplementation. So customized diets for each animal kept alone facilitate health.
Do guinea pigs fight rabbits?
Yes, guinea pigs and rabbits may fight, often due to the rabbit’s more active and dominant nature. Rabbits may chase or mount guinea pigs to play but this terrifies the guinea pigs. Squabbles over food, water, or sleeping spaces frequently occur as well when sharing an enclosure.
Why is my rabbit attacking my guinea pig?
If your rabbit is attacking your guinea pig, it is likely due to territorial reasons, hierarchical behaviors, resource-guarding issues over items in the cage, or miscommunications between the species triggering aggressive reactions from the rabbit. Separate them immediately – cohabitation is unsafe.
Are guinea pigs scared of rabbits?
Yes, in most cases guinea pigs are instinctively scared of rabbits due to their prey-like natural behaviors and non-confrontational demeanor. Stomping, chasing, or even harmless sniffing by a curious rabbit tends to frighten guinea pigs, causing them chronic stress.
Can rabbit food kill a guinea pig?
Rabbit food pellets alone could potentially kill a guinea pig over time. Guinea pigs require supplemental vitamin C in their diets not present in rabbit feeds. Guinea pigs eating rabbit pellets lacking enough vitamin C will eventually develop fatal scurvy disease and malnutrition.
What animal eats guinea pigs?
In the wild, guinea pig predators include snakes, birds of prey, foxes, lynxes, coyotes, and even dogs. Domestic guinea pigs retain those vulnerable prey instincts. So even friendly chasing or pouncing play behaviors from rabbits trigger guinea pig panic equivalent to feeling under attack.
Will rabbit pellets hurt guinea pigs?
Yes, guinea pigs should not eat rabbit food pellets as their sole long-term diet. Rabbit pellets do not contain adequate vitamin C and nutrients tailored specifically to meet guinea pigs’ dietary needs. Guinea pigs require a customized mix of fresh vegetables high in vitamin C, hay, and fortified guinea pig pellets different from rabbit feeds.
Let’s keep our beloved furry friends happy and healthy for years to come – in their own separately species-appropriate enclosures! Please contact reputable exotic veterinarians for more information.