The simple answer is “no”. Both rabbits and guinea pigs are sociable creatures who absolutely require companionship, but they are very different species and as such have different needs. Having said that, if you already have a rabbit and guinea pig living together and there aren’t any problems, then definitely don’t separate them – this could create more problems than it solves. However, if you are thinking of getting guinea pigs and/or rabbits as pets, then definitely stick to one species or the other.
Read on to find out why rabbits and guinea pigs do not make ideal companions.
They need different diets
Some dietary requirements are the same. The main component of the diet for both rabbits and guinea pigs is hay and there is no limit to how much they are allowed. Hay comes in different qualities, so make sure you shop around to ensure your pets will eat and enjoy the hay you buy. Good quality hay should be dry and sweet smelling.
Both species should also be fed pelleted food rather than muesli mixes, to prevent selective feeding. They don’t require as much food as you think; pellets should only make up 5% of their diet and overfeeding can cause them to become overweight.
Guinea pigs, however, require extra vitamin C, whereas rabbits do not, and as such should be fed pellets specifically for guinea pigs supplemented with vitamin C. Too much vitamin C in rabbits might make them unwell, so they shouldn’t really be fed guinea pig food. If living together, guinea pigs and rabbits should be fed separately to ensure they are getting the right nutrition.
Rabbits need rabbit friends, guinea pigs need guinea pig friends
In the wild, guinea pigs and rabbits are naturally social creatures and live in groups of their own kind. This means that these animals should not be kept alone as they will usually get lonely and depressed. Keeping a rabbit and guinea pig together will not resolve this loneliness as they communicate differently. You could say they “speak different languages”.
Animals that have been brought up together should get on fine. Care should be taken if adding a second pet to a lone animal as they may not get on straight away. They need to undergo a period of “bonding” to ensure they become friends! You can find more information on bonding rabbits here.
They can be bullies
Rabbits are generally bigger than guinea pigs and they unfortunately can be a bit mean. Whether it be kicking their strong back legs or scratching with their sharp claws, they can cause some serious damage to a little guinea pig. They may also bully guinea pigs out of their food, leading to nutritional problems.
Rabbits require a lot more space
The minimum space requirements for a pair of rabbits, as set out by the Rabbit Welfare Association and Fund (RWAF), is 3m x 2m x 1m high. This means “a hutch is not enough”! This space allows them to exhibit their natural behaviours including jumping, binkying and lying stretched out. Guinea pigs still require space but not quite as much due to their smaller size and a hutch may be much more suitable.
Rabbits may pass on infections to guinea pigs
Rabbits can carry a respiratory infection called Bordetella bronchiseptica, without showing symptoms. Unfortunately, they can pass this on to guinea pigs easily causing them to become sick with pneumonia, and they may even unfortunately die.
So, if you’re thinking of getting guinea pigs and rabbits, make sure you pick one species and get a pair of that species. This needs to be a bonded pair so they get on well with each other.
Remember, rabbit and guinea pigs as pets are not easy – they have complex needs and are reasonably expensive, so make sure you have fully considered the responsibility before jumping in!