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Can Rabbits and Guinea Pigs Be Housed Together?

Read other people's opinions in this FAQ! Please note that this is not a survey.

Introduction
1) Do you house the rabbits and guinea pigs in the same cage?
2) Why or why not?
3) How do you handle feeding them different foods (if you do)?
4) Have the rabbits/guinea pigs ever shown aggression?
5) Has a guinea pig ever gotten kicked?
6) What do you do if the guinea pig or rabbit starts "barbering" (chewing on the fur) of the other?
7) What size (breed and approximate weight) are/is the rabbit(s)?
8) From your experience, should they be raised together, or can they be paired up later on in life?
9) Has there ever been an injury to either your rabbit or guinea pig, resulting from mistreatment by the other?
10) Overall, would you recommend for or against housing the two together?
Breakdown Into Percentages
Conclusion


Introduction
So, you want to have a guinea pig and a rabbit in the same cage? Here are some tips from others who have done just that. Their opinions might help you make your decision! The questions included are some of the most common concerns regarding housing the two together. If you're still confused, or just want to find out more about either animal, there are online resources following.

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1) Do you house the rabbits and guinea pigs in the same cage?
Becky: We have rabbits and cavies and only once successfully housed them together. Playtime is a different story and they enjoy it.
Kelly: No.
Kris: Kind of. Our piggie had an open topped wooden drawer that had been converted into his home. As piggies can't jump that high it was sufficient to hold him captive in our living room. Our rabbit is free range in our house so he can go where ever he wants. This territory includes the piggie pen.
Marieke: Yes, I do now.
Melissa: Yes, I housed two guinea pigs and a rabbit in one cage. I also did the reverse -- one guinea pig and two rabbits in a large indoor run!
Meredith: Yes, Pig and Rabbit are in the same cage.

Toby: My rabbits are loose and most gp's caged - a couple of gp's are loose with the rabbits. When I had less of everyone, they all were loose. I've had rabbits & piggies caged together for fairly short periods but the cages were too small for the rabbits. I've had the piggies in kiddie pools and the rabbits loose, too. The main problem with that was the rabbits would hop in and eat all the piggies' food, even though they had big food bowls outside of the pools. Then the piggies wouldn't have food! I think everyone in a large confined area is best if possible. Also, my rabbits are litter trained but I've never been able to litter train any piggies (a problem if the piggies are loose, but I put up with it when I had fewer of everyone). That's actually 1 & 2. The pigs-in-the-pool thing would work well with fewer critters, I think. Someone mentioned they do that now and I'm basically in favor of it.
Vickie: No.


2) Why or why not?
Becky: In our experience, it is more a question of personality than species. We had a mini lop that loved the cavies. But most others have been indifferent and treated the cavies like furniture. Now we have a Holland lop buck who is very affectionate toward everyone including cavies, but he is housed separately. One reason is I worry about accidental trampling. But the real reason is that the rabbits are outside in a hutch next to our barn where it would be too cold for the GPs.
Kelly: Rabbits use litter tray; guinea pigs need bedding on floor, which rabbits would mess up; also, at this time, my rabbits are 8-pound buns and might accidentally injure the piggies while hopping around.
Kris: I think that animals will do fine with one another as friends as long as both animals have the opportunity to get away from one another if they feel the need. As the piggie couldn't exit the cage, if the rabbit got annoyed he just jumped out rather than acting out and hurting the piggie. If the piggie got annoyed he just ran into his smaller house area which was too small for the rabbit to enter and got himself some peace and quiet rather than nipping at the bunny.
Marieke: Because I did not want to take another rabbit and I didn't want the rabbit that was left (neutered male) to be alone.
Melissa: One of my rabbits became very ill after having her head squeezed by a man with Alzheimer's (I learned the hard way not to take in delicate pets for Easter!). She became handicapped, and although her rabbit friend loved her to bits and pieces, the other rabbit is very hyper. She never regained her activity level and slept all day, so I wanted her to be around calmer animals.
Meredith: They were purchased together from the same cage. The GP was originally to be company for the rabbit because I knew that school & work would keep me away for hours at a time.
Vickie: My piggies live in a pink plastic kiddie pool and my rabbits have free run of the house.
3) How do you handle feeding them different foods (if you do)?
Becky: We feed them cavy food and hay.
Kelly: Sometimes I feed them all guinea pig food; usually I feed them in their separate cages. When they are out playing in the room together, I feed everybody timothy hay and carrots together.
Kris: Hah, yeah right. Nope, feeding them different foods was not an option. The rabbit seems to feel that whatever the piggie is eating HAS to be better than what's in his dish so would just eat out of his stuff anyway. We feed them both Guinea Pig food with no ill effects on the rabbit. In fact, earlier this year the Piggie cage had a problem with filth buildup and our pig had to be housed in a cage for a few weeks, during which time we endeavored to feed the rabbit the proper rabbit food. During this time our rabbit was very ill (whether from enforced seperation from his piggie friend or the change in food is difficult to tell).
Marieke: I don't at the moment, though my vet says it would be better. I feed them guinea pig food (vet says better feed rabbit gp food than the other way around).
Melissa: I fed them guinea pig food and Timothy Hay.
Meredith:They are generally fed the same things...the rabbit has a sensitive stomach (as all bunnies do) but Pig is an iron man, so he probably gets less than he would like because I don't want R to get the scoots.
Toby: [Guinea pigs take] veggies away from the rabbits. My rabbits tolerate it from them. Most of my rabbits were born here with adult gp's running around and think of them as 'elders'.
Vickie: The bunnies eat bunny food, the piggies piggie food; they eat the same veggies and fruits, though.
4) Have the rabbits/guinea pigs ever shown aggression?
Becky: There were times when at play, the rabbits would try to mount the cavies! Fortunately, netherland dwarfs were lighter in weight than the cavy.
Kelly: The guinea pigs have sometimes pulled tufts of fur out of the rabbits, and one guinea pig bit a rabbit ear once. The rabbits have never shown any aggression toward the guinea pigs.
Kris: Nope, (knock on wood). I attribute it to a really layed back bunny and a pig who can flee if he wants to.
Marieke: Not really, sometimes there is a little irritation, but mainly between the guinea pigs.
Melissa: Not at all. They got along very well. Tigger, my handicapped bunny, was smaller than the guinea pigs. So there weren't any kicks or any other aggression shown. The guinea pigs barbered Tigger a lot, though.
Meredith: Never a single incident of aggression toward one another in four years. They are completely devoted to each other (NB: neither have been neutered)
Toby: I've NEVER had a gp-rabbit aggression problem. I don't know if this has been dumb luck or what.
Vickie: Louie, one of my piggies won't let Roger, my dominant male, eat out of their bowl - she follows him around "nosing" at his bottom until he jumps out; Roger, my dominant male rabbit won't let us pet the piggies in our laps -- he nips at them, but only if they're in our laps.
5) Has a guinea pig ever gotten kicked?
Becky: No one has been kicked. (but I still worry)
Kelly: No.
Kris: No kicking either. However the rabbit will occasionally jump on top of a pig when he tries to enter the pen. Thankfully it doesn't seem to hurt the pigs... This even happened to a pregnant female once but she and her litter were fine.
Marieke: Not that I know of.
Melissa: No, although one time my bunny jumped over one, somewhat ON her, by accident.
Meredith: To the best of my knowledge, the rabbit has never kicked the GP.
Toby: Never had a gp kicked by a rabbit.
Vickie: Nope.
6) What do you do if the guinea pig or rabbit starts "barbering" (chewing on the fur) of the other?
Becky: Barbering hasn't happened between the two.
Kelly: If a guinea pig starts pulling fur, the rabbit hops away immediately, so it never goes on for long enough for me to have to do anything.
Kris: Well, as they can flee if they want if any fur is missing then it's their own fault. Seriously though, the rabbit has lost many whiskers and a couple patches of hair. They all grow back eventually. Of a greater worry is if anyone gets a hairball but we keep a close watch on that one.
Marieke: Haven't found a cure against that. When I see it, I shout.
Melissa: Tigger didn't mind having her hair plucked at all (nice bunny!). Funny, though, that the two guinea pigs who were housed with her knew not to barber each other!
Meredith: The rabbit licks the pig to groom him, and sometimes she chews her own fur, but I've never seen them chew each other's fur.
Toby: Have had barbering of gp's by rabbits. In particular the female bunny caged with the male gp. When she got to be about 6 months old I heard pathetic warbles from the cage and she had a paw on him holding him down and was ripping out his fur. I realized it was an overzealous grooming thing. She was in love with him. I had to separate them and she was quite distressed (and bit me). When I got her a male rabbit, she'd growl, take off from across the room, and crash into him and bite him. They later had many offspring. If the barbering is excessive, I separate the critters when I'm gone.
Vickie: They haven't done that -- just lots of licks by Jessica, my other rabbit. She grooms them.
7) What size (breed and approximate weight) are/is the rabbit(s)?
Becky: Although we don't currently house together, (and probably won't anymore) we have had cavies with Netherland dwarf, Holland Lop, and Mini Lop. Once again, it was only because these particular bunnies had the temperment of Ghandi.
Kelly: Both of mine are mixed breed, Sniffy appears to be part mini-lip, part who-knows-what, and Cookie has English-spot type markings.
Kris: The rabbit is a mini-lop. I'd say around six pounds. Very thin though, mostly because he isn't caged and runs around the house all day, attempting to forage for new and exciting food supplies (like Cupcakes).
Marieke: Dwarf, little over 1 kg.
Melissa: Tigger was a Smoke Pearl Siamese Netherland Dwarf, but was smaller than the average Dwarf bunny and about the weight of a junior guinea pig.
Meredith The rabbit is not purebred but she is predominantly Netherland Dwarf. She weighs about three pounds and is roughly twice his length and height. Note: the ND is a breed intended to be a pet. Larger breeds of rabbit such as meat or fur breeds might be more aggresive.
Toby: My rabbits are supposed to be 'mini-lops' but a couple have gotten quite large. The patriarch of the rabbit family is 12 lbs, but very gentle. I've also had gp's with a Holland lop (female rabbit, male gp).
Vickie: Rex's (not mini's) probably 8 pounds or so; they're not full grown yet.
8) From your experience, should they be raised together, or can they be paired up later on in life?
Becky: I don't know on this one. Probably depends on the animals in question.
Kelly: In my experience they can be paired together later in life, although a very young guinea pig would probably be too small to do anything but hide from a bun. I have had 6-month old guinea pigs meet 5-year old rabbits, and have had 6-year old female guinea pigs snuggle up to similar age rabbits.
Kris: Ours were paired up when our Piggies were about a year old. The bunny was a young'un though. I think that the bunny is the one who needs to be the younger as they tend to be larger. Piggies are mostly frightened of new stuff (at least ours are), so the introduction was gradual as any time the rabbit hopped in the piggies just ran to their house.
Marieke: Both are possible, provided the characters match.
Melissa: Mine were paired together later in life. The rabbit was three, the guinea pigs one and two years old. However, they had known each other from a very early age, and always had playtime together outside of the cage.
Meredith: Mine were purchased together when only a few weeks old and they were together when we got them. I don't know if they would get along if introduced as adults.
Toby: I've done both - I've paired adults and had babies of one with adults of the other, had newborn rabbits with gp's @ 4-6 months or older. In one one-to-one pairing, the rabbit was about 2 (her rabbit companion died). The first gp I tried with her seemed intimidated though the rabbit never did anything aggressive. After a couple of days I thought it might be stressing the gp so tried a different gp with the rabbit and they got along fine. Neither of those gp's had even seen a rabbit before.
Vickie: Ours weren't raised together and get along fine!
9) Has there ever been an injury to either your rabbit or guinea pig, resulting from mistreatment by the other?
Becky: No injuries.
Kelly: The one small ear bite mentioned above, which did not bleed - just left a small red mark.
Kris: Nope. Never an injury. I've never even seen them act like anything but loving siblings.
Marieke: Not with my pets. I have seen injuries in pet shops keeping guinea pigs and rabbits together though.
Melissa: No.
Meredith:No injuries due to aggro or mistreatment from each other.
Toby: Never any injuries.
Vickie: No, the nips weren't serious, although they probably could have been if I hadn't stopped it.
10) Overall, would you recommend for or against housing the two together?
Becky: Unless the two creatures were very well suited for each other, I would say no. The risks are too great for injury. Another problem we encountered was that rabbits make a mess if not on a wire bottom cage, and that was unpleasant. The bunnies we did house with cavies used a litter box in the cage, so we were able to keep a solid bottom in the housing. I think this more a question of good judgement and knowing your animals. We have an Australian Shepherd that I would rather house the cavies with than with any one of our 3 bunnies. He LOVES them, stands guard at playtime, and the cavies will nuzzle with him as well. The only problem is he likes them so well, he wants to steal their pellets and veggie treats! Point is, I'm not convinced it is a question of species, but rather personality. We also have a cavy that would beat up Evander Holyfield should he try to share her cage!
Kelly: If the two are the same size/weight, or the rabbit is smaller (and there are some 4-pound guinea pigs and 3-pound rabbits!), house together if they get along; otherwise, house in cages next to each other or stacked, where they can still see and hear one another when they are not out playing together.
Kris: I'd say for but only if all the requirements are met. 1) the rabbit should be able to leave the piggie pen or cage at will. (a door on an upper level in a cage should help, or an open top), 2) the piggie should be able to have someplace to get away from the rabbit. (a small house, or enclosed area too small for the rabbit to enter), 3) both the rabbit and pig should be of good temperment. (this is kind of subjective but owners should try to find out their pets temperment before introductions are made. I've had several piggies who were big time biters and would have injured my rabbit had he been housed with them).
Marieke: In general I would recommend to keep them apart. But if you *want* to put them together, it is very important to look at the character of the rabbit. If my other rabbit (who died) had been the survivor, I could not have housed her with the guinea pigs, she was far to fierce (spayed female). In general I would be very careful, especially with larger rabbits. And it is very important to provide enough space. You could also provide a sturdy shelter which the rabbit(s) can't enter, so the piggies can hide if needed.
Melissa: The problem is that it depends A LOT on the individual rabbits and guinea pigs! A lot of people have posted that rabbits will bother or hurt guinea pigs. I actually found the opposite to be true. For me, it was always the guinea pigs who picked on the rabbits. Guinea pigs and rabbits have very different body language. When a guinea pig chatters its teeth, for example, that is an angry sound. For rabbits (if quiet) it's purring.
I had very docile rabbits, and they were raised from a young age with the cavies. My rabbits have always been more submissive about grooming, and so they let the cavies pick their fur out without even raising a fuss. But overall I found it didn't really work due to their different languages -- both vocal and body language. Although I didn't have much of a problem overall...they never fought, for example...I wouldn't recommend it. I had superbly docile bunnies and one of them was an ex-show bunny, who didn't even move -- I think she was actually meant to be a stuffed animal! ;) They even weighed less than the guinea pigs since they were purebred dwarf bunnies. It's lots more fun to house like animals with like animals -- such as two female bunnies together or two female guinea pigs together. Then they understand each other and know how to communicate with one another. :)
Meredith: I would recommend for housing R & GP together. Mine have never spent any time apart and have been wonderful company together. If you have a very busy life which keeps you away for long hours at a time, it is difficult to bond with GP or rabbit. If they are alone a lot they will be bored and lonely and you will feel guilty. Together they will amuse one another (remember that both species are naturally sociable animals). The trade-off is that they will perhaps be a bit less devoted to you, but they'll still love you.
Toby: From my experience, I think it's fine to have them together, again, if there's plenty of room. I *have* heard stories about rabbits kicking gps and obviously temperament plays a part. I've had gp's that don't get along with other gp's and gp's that get along with certain other gp's but not with others. I've had a mom gp that got along with a daughter from one litter but neither liked a daughter from another litter (full daughter/sib). Obviously I advise caution and am only relating my own (and my critters') experiences. Always start with a set-up where you can separate everyone if necessary. Often people don't realize that even little critters have personal preferences, likes and dislikes. I know I mentioned that all my rabbits & gp's eat gp food. I've discussed it with vets and they thought it was okay. I haven't had any problems. Your mileage may vary.
Vickie: I wouldn't recommend them having the same housing because I can't imagine a cage large enough for a rabbit to have sufficient room. They do like to play together, though.
Breakdown into Percentages (These may have changed slightly, because I (Melissa) changed my responses after Tigger's handicap.)
QUESTION PERCENTAGE HIGH PERCENTAGE LOW
Housed in the same cage No-50% Yes-50%
Feeding Cavy food-75% Applicable food-25%
Aggression shown Some-50% None-50%
Guinea pigs kicked 0% N/A
Rabbit size Small-50% Medium+-50%
Injuries No-75% Minor-25%
Conclusion
I hope this helped in making your decision. Here are some other sources that you may enjoy for rabbit and guinea pig information:

Note: There are differences to these two species other than size and shape. Guinea pigs and rabbits are not the same animal. So please make sure you acquaint yourself to each one by purchasing and reading animal care books. Here are some other sources that may be helpful:

House Rabbit Society's webpage shows that rabbits are smart animals that need a lot of room, love, and attention.

The Guinea Pigs Daily Digest is a very nice e-mail list for guinea pig owners.

The Guinea Mag is a free online seasonal guinea pig magazine for printing out. Chat room, too.

ITEM RABBIT SITE NAME ADDRESS GUINEA PIG SITE NAME ADDRESS
STORE The Busy Bunny* http://www.busybunny.com/ The Winking Cavy Store http://www.oginet.com/winking_cavy/
MAILING LIST Pet Bunny petbunny@lsv.uky.edu The Guinea Pig Daily Digest http://www.gpdd.org
BIG SITES House Rabbit Society http://www.rabbit.org Canny Cavies http://www.oginet.com/Cavies/