Bunnies and Other Pets Part 3: Guinea Pigs and Rabbits Coexisting

can guinea pigs live with rabbits?

In part three of this series, I want to talk a little bit about keeping guinea pigs and rabbits together as pets. The tradition of keeping rabbits and guinea pigs together as pets stems from the days before spaying and neutering pet rabbits was commonplace. Many rabbits who have not been fixed (especially males) will be aggressive with other rabbits. So they ended up being housed with guinea pigs to give them a social partner without having tons of babies.

However, nowadays this living scenario is mostly avoided. Rabbits may accidentally injure guinea pigs, and the different-yet-similar dietary needs of the two species make it difficult to ensure their getting adequate nutrition and aren’t stealing each other’s food.

In my opinion, it’s fine for rabbits and guinea pigs to live in the same household and even interact with each other, but I still recommend keeping them in separate pens or areas rather than housing them together.

I also think that if you already have a rabbit and guinea pig that are bonded together, you don’t need to separate them since this may cause distress for the animals. Just like rabbits with cats and dogs, rabbits and guinea pigs can live together in harmony as long as they are gentle and have a calm disposition.

Let’s look into the ways in which you can allow pet guinea pigs and rabbits to interact, and what kinds of precautions you need to take to ensure their safety.

Important: This post contains affiliate links. As an associate to Amazon, Small Pet Select, and Chewy.com, I earn a small commission from qualifying purchases.

How to introduce rabbits and guinea pigs

While I recommend keeping rabbits and guinea pigs in separate living areas, it’s generally okay for them to interact with each other as long as they are gentle and not anxious around each other. 

Rabbits are typically much bigger than guinea pigs, so there is a chance that they can injure the little piggy. That’s why you need to be careful when introducing the two so that both of your pets are safe.

Rabbits can also be incredibly territorial animals. While territorial aggression is usually aimed at other rabbits who are deemed intruders, it can also occasionally be aimed at other species, such as guinea pigs.

For this reason, you want to introduce the two pets in a neutral area. By this, I mean an area of the home where your rabbit does not have access to. After you see if your pets can get along in a neutral space, you can see if they’ll get along in other spaces too.

  1. Introduce your pets through a fence to see how they interact. You can set up a pet exercise pen with your rabbit on one side and the guinea pig on the other. Give them some time to see if they are curious about each other or show any aggression. Repeat this for a few days before moving on.
  2. If they are not showing significant aggression or fear toward the other (it’s okay if they seem disinterested in each other), allow them to interact without a fence between them. Make sure you stay right there, ready to separate the two if necessary. 
  3. Keep the sessions brief to start with (only about 5-10 minutes), and slowly increase the amount of time the two spend together based on their comfort around each other.
  4. As they become more comfortable around each other, you can move farther away, but continue to supervise them and give them more space to allow them to share a “play area”. Over time, you’ll be able to provide less and less direct supervision as long as the two show no aggression toward each other.

Again, I don’t recommend housing the two species together, but giving them a shared play space is fine as long as they are friendly toward each other. This is great for rabbits and guinea pigs who can’t seem to get along with members of their own species, since it gives them a friend to interact with.

Why rabbits and guinea pigs should not be kept together as full-time companions

It used to be more commonplace for rabbits to be kept together with guinea pigs. Neutering rabbits used to be a more dangerous procedure, and unneutered rabbits are much more territorial and aggressive toward each other.

Because of that, it was considered normal to bond them with a guinea pig for a companion instead of another rabbit. However, this has largely fallen out of practice, and is not advised since there is a high chance of injury for the guinea pig. The procedure for spaying and neutering rabbits is much safer now than it used to be too, so it’s easier to give rabbits a companion of their own species. 

Other reasons it’s best to house rabbits and guinea pigs separate include:

  • They have different nutritional requirements and should not eat each other’s food (except they can both have plenty of timothy hay)
  • Rabbits may intentionally or unintentionally injure the guinea pig. Even if they get along, an overexcited rabbit may accidentally kick or jump on a guinea pig and injure them.
  • Some diseases can be passed from rabbits to guinea pigs. In particular, snuffles (the rabbit cold) is a dangerous illness that guinea pigs can catch from rabbits.
  • The body language of rabbits and guinea pigs are different enough that it will be difficult for the animals to communicate with each other. Some pairs can learn how to befriend each other despite this difference, but sometimes the communication barrier is too confusing.

When should rabbits and guinea pigs NOT be allowed to interact at all

Rabbits that are too hyperactive or show aggression toward the guinea pig should be kept separate indefinitely. The aggression is self explanatory, since a bite from a rabbit cna seriously injure a guinea pig. 

The hyperactivity is only a problem because the rabbit may inadvertently land on or kick a guinea pig. For this reason, you may want to wait until your rabbit is a little older before trying to introduce them to your guinea pig, since older rabbits also tend to be calmer. 

Guinea pigs can be territorial and aggressive too, but usually it’s not as much of a problem as rabbit behavior. While my specialty is rabbits, I do also socialize other small animals at the shelter, including guinea pigs. And I can say that a guinea pig bite is nothing compared to a rabbit bite, so overall I would be much more concerned for the safety of the guinea pig over the rabbit.

Other than aggressive behavior, you should also avoid allowing rabbits and guinea pigs to interact if your rabbit has ever had snuffles (learn more).  This is a contagious disease that can be passed to guinea pigs even if it’s dormant and non-symptomatic in rabbits. It’s a dangerous disease for rabbits, but even more so for guinea pigs.

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Recommended Products and Brands

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Amy Pratt

Amy Pratt is a lifelong rabbit owner who has been specializing with rabbits at the Humane Rescue Alliance. She helps to socialize the rabbits and educate volunteers on the care and behavior of these small mammals.

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