Guinea Pigs And Rabbits - Why Not

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Staff member
Mar 10, 2009
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Coventry UK
Please do NOT keep rabbits and guinea pigs together!

Rabbits and guinea pigs poster.jpg
(via Angie Bell, Barnsley Animal Rescue Charity BARC)

Different dietary needs
Rabbits are lagomorphs with a digestive system that resembles more a horse's than a rodent digestive tract, like guinea pigs have. Accordingly, the dietary needs of rabbits and guinea pigs differ quite a bit; they need different kinds and amounts of roughage/fresh food/pellets and have very different vitamin requirements. Guinea pigs and rabbits should never be fed the same food, including dry food!

Kick reflex, rough mating accidental injuries and bullying
Rabbits also have a kick reflex; this can injure even a beloved piggy friend if he happens to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. Some bunnies can also seriously injure and traumatise piggies by their comparatively rough way of humping, which can include bites; as they tend to be bigger, bullying is sadly not at all uncommon and can end with fatal injuries for the guinea pig.
Why Bugzy doesn't like rabbits.

Different life spans
It is also worth keeping in mind that a healthy pet rabbit has about double the average lifespan of a healthy pet guinea pig. Rabbits can live a decade or more!

Transmission of diseases
Rabbits are carriers of some bugs which do not affect them, but can be deadly for guinea pigs sharing their quarters, like bordetella, pasteurella, e.cuniculi as well as rabbit earmites.

Why did vets use to recommend keeping both species together?
In earlier decades, neutering small animals was often considered too risky, so vets were recommending keeping a rabbit and a guinea pig together in order to compensate for both species' desperate need for a companion of their own kind in order to prevent uncontrolled breeding in either species. This has completely changed now because small animal medicine and understanding of social behaviours and needs has completely changed now.
Rabbit neutering of both genders is strongly recommended (for health reasons with does as well as aggression in bucks) and is often offered at a special rate in vet clinics.

Please keep rabbits and guinea pigs with a companion of their own kind!

Good standard rabbit rescues will help you bond your single bunny with a suitable, already neutered companion or will rehome already carefully bonded rabbits. Good guinea pig rescues also offer bonding and will rehome well bonded guinea pig pairs. Any rabbit rescue worth their salt will only rehome neutered rabbits or will give vouchers for neutering if the rabbits are still too young.

The current RSPCA recommendations:
For more reasons (including transmission of illnesses like pasteurella or bordetella), please read the very insightful and well considered stance of the RSPCA (the British animal protection league): Keeping rabbits and guinea pigs together - RSPCA

For more information on how to best look after rabbits, please visit our sister forum, Rabbits United: Rabbits United Forum
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