Guinea Pigs And Rabbits – Right Or Risky?

This is Buddy here. Your investigative reporter piggy!

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Our hooman has been discussing this for a long while with a variety of sources. It is something that deeply concerns her. Hoomans keeping us piggies with rabbits.

Ages ago, before our little hoomans were born, hoomans used to keep rabbits and guinea pigs together as a source of company for one another as it was very risky to neuter rabbits. However veterinary science has come on in hops and bounds (forgive the pun!) so that rabbits can be safely neutered as a routine op. Knowledge of both these animals has also come on well. Whee now know plenty of things such as the following points which are highlighted on the RSPCA website and explained there.

– Despite both being herbivores they do have different dietary needs

– Rabbits are very powerful and can easily hurt or kill a guinea pig

– The bacteria, bordetella bronchiseptica, is the most common cause of respiratory disease in guinea pigs. Rabbits can carry this bacteria which can be passed to guinea pigs and cause disease

– They communicate differently so are not appropriate companions for one another

Please click here to read it for yourself. Or read this article on why guineapigcages.com don’t think you shouldn’t keep them together.

With all this information at hand the hooman was very surprised on a recent trip to a zoo to be confronted with rabbits and guinea pigs living together. Being the snap happy hooman she is, she snapped the below pigtures:

As whee mentioned she was very concerned and upset to think that members of the public would be seeing this and thinking it would be ok to recreate at home. Even major pet store, Pets At Home, who receive a lot of bad press, refuse to sell a rabbit to live with a guinea pig or vice versa. She decided to contact the zoo almost two weeks ago and Banham Zoo gave the following statement:

“If we can first deal with your concerns regarding the keeping of rabbits and guinea pigs together, although we accept your concerns we are afraid that we don’t share your opinion nor that of the RSPCA’s. Indeed what you say can be true, rabbits do have the potential to injure any animal smaller than itself but we have a team of very skilled keepers here and any such introductions, when done, are conducted under close supervision and during the last 15 years we have never had a guinea pig injured by a rabbit, there has never been any social conflict or fighting which is likely due to them being in large groups in a big area rather than a small hutch.

Regarding your other concerns, we almost certainly have a far higher standard of veterinary care than most pet owners with weekly visits from our vets (and additional ones if needed) where any concerns that the keepers have regarding their animals can be fully investigated,  we spend many thousands of pounds on veterinary care each year and preventative health is an important element of this. All animals (from a giraffe to a guinea pig) that die in the collection receive a post mortem,  many of our animals receive investigative treatments such as scans and x-rays where we have any concerns and we have a faecal testing programme that identifies any harmful parasites and bacteria. Animals coming into the collection are often isolated (unless they come from a zoo with the same health status) and are tested before they can enter the main collection, therefore the risk of transmission of disease is far reduced.

With regard to their dietary needs, our diets have been reviewed by our vet many times over the years, the animals are in good health, are not malnourished and receive in our opinion a very good and balanced diet. Guinea pigs must receive Vitamin C which we give them in their food and with supplementary food high in Vitamin C, our rabbits should receive proprietary rabbit food and hay which they do.  We have discussed this with our vet who is of the opinion that it will not hurt rabbits to eat guinea pig food or vice versa and he confirmed that we have never had any dietary-related problems in either our guinea pigs or rabbits.

Finally the RSPCA website also states that if the animals are already housed together it may not be advisable to separate, we are satisfied that the animals are well cared for but do understand your concerns and appreciate the time you have taken to convey them, we have asked our Head Keeper to discuss them with our vet and should he suggest any change in the way we care for these animals we will of course act appropriately and follow his advice.”

With regard to the first section of the comment, just because it hasn’t happened yet, doesn’t mean nothing will happen in the future. Isn’t it taking an unnecessary risk to keep them together? This site quotes a story of a rabbit and guinea pig living happily together. Then one day when the rabbit was lying next to the piggy it was startled by a noise. The accidental injury caused by the bunny leaping up actually killed the piggy. No one is saying that fighting or aggression will cause the injury, but accidents happen and this is an entirely preventable one.

Whee cannot quibble the veterinary care which whee are sure is very good and whee are glad to hear of such attentiveness.

The next part to discuss is the diet. It is recommended that us piggies are fed unlimited pellets where as rabbits are fed restricted amounts. Managing to make sure both animals get the correct amount of roughage and vitamins they need would be a challenging task which whee are sure a zoo are more than up to managing but again, is this not an unnecessary risk?

Finally the mention of the RSPCA website stating that, for animals already housed together it may not be advisable to separate them. That is fine but instead of introducing more, why not decide from this point onward to keep them with their own kind and stop the species from mixing? For both of their sakes?

Wondering if she was just being sensitive the hooman contacted a few other zoos and wildlife parks. Wildwood, a British Wildlife Park in Kent told us that they do not keep rabbits and guinea pigs together and the keeper who looks after that area gave this simple and to the point response as to why:

“You are not supposed to keep them together”

So whee would like to know what you think. Are some zoos right to keep rabbits and guinea pigs together or do you think it is too risky? Everyone is entitled to their opinion but when the welfare of animals come into it is it really opinion or just understanding of the facts?

Have you ever been concerned about animals you encountered in a zoo, farm or wildlife park? Did you speak to the place about your concerns and get a satisfactory response?

Buddy

xxxx

((This piece is not a personal attack on any particular zoo, merely a questioning of some of it’s practices. This was just one example and whee are sure not the only one. Whee have referenced facts where possible and backed up each opinion with facts where possible. Whee would strongly recommend you read through the linked pages if you are considering keeping them together and reconsider it for the welfare and protection of your pets.))

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About hutchagoodlife

Tales and adventures from the hutches of British blogging guinea pigs!

Posted on September 13, 2013, in Piggy Blogs and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 58 Comments.

  1. Wonderful post Buddy – hope it reaches as many people as possible.

  2. What i read is rather shocking! Rabbits and piggies intogether! That is setting such a bad example! I personally have never seen pigs or bunnys in the same pen at any zoo’s or farm, wild life centre or parks ever because of the dangers (sure one had chipmunks in with some bunnies but the monks had tunnels stretching across the barn) Most of them even have a descriptive poster explaining why they dont have them together. The fact that this zoo said they pretty dont care what the RSPCA say is another shocking point! Im just pretty shocked by this whole thing!

    • It is shocking. Our hooman has spent a little while sending emails back and forth with them to try to discuss this and see if future changes will be made but nothing has come of it.

      The frustrating part is giving people the knowledge to do right by the animals and have them continue and say that our thoughts are just an opinion. Is it an opinion if the Royal Society For The Prevention Of Cruelty To Animals agrees?

      Some hoomans are just so set in their ways they can’t seem to admit where they were wrong and change.

      Buddy
      xxxx

  3. We have two piggies and four rabbits and we love them all. With that being said, we would never keep them together. Rabbits can move very fast and could fatally “thump” a piggie to death before you could even get to the pen. Rabbits and piggies can also transmit a lot of diseases between themselves. I’m sure some people have successfully housed rabbits and piggies together but IMHO it’s an accident waiting to happen. I respect people’s right to do it but I would never do it myself.

    • Whee love both rabbits and piggies but they just shouldn’t mix. The risks, however slight, are still there and it worries us that people may believe after seeing it that their pets are safe being kept together when the reality is they may not be.

      It’s just something whee hope whee can educate people on and hopefully they will form their own opinions when provided with the facts.

      Buddy
      xxxx

      • Your worry is legit, they are setting a bad example. Zoos (which are sometimes kind of shady in my mind anyway for housing conditions) should be the example. It’s sort if like whenever a new “101 Dalmatians” movie comes out people get this idea that Dalmatians make good pets, but temperamentally Dalmatians can sometime be problematic as family pets with small children.

        Do they keep horses and goats together too?

      • I can’t remember. It did bother me that the chickens could get into the rabbit and guinea pig pens too. There were eggs laid in one of the hutches which felt wrong.

        I’m pretty irritated that they won’t admit the dangers (accidental not aggressive dangers!) I’ve also had this issue with a farm in the past but I couldn’t get hold of them to get a response.

        Frustrating

        Buddy
        xxxx

      • Have you considered an open letter to a local media organization? Obviously I’m not an animal rights nut, I have six guinea pigs (I do not believe they are my slaves, and I know with all certainty that they adore my company and would suffer without me). Still, I believe in the responsible and ethical stewardship of captive animals, and that some animals (like elephants) should not be kept in traditional zoo enclosures. Given how many diseases domestic fowl carry, it would be safest for EVERY animal if they were in their own separate aviary.

        I mention the goat/horse thing because it is something similar to the rabbit/cavy issue — an old idea that a goat could be a good companion for a lone horse (really a mini horse or pony would be better).

        Annie came from a shop where guinea pigs are sometimes housed with rabbits.

        On the flipside, I was at the local natural history museum last week, and they have an enclosure designed with a lot of “industrial” looking componants that was supposed to remind you of living in your walls and crawl space, but really looks like rats who did very well in shop class took a trip to the home improvement store. 😉

        I know what rats like and need in a living space, and this met it well.

      • That reminds us that there was another thing in the barn that bothered the hooman but she must confess to knowing nothing about ratties. There were some of the ‘wild’ coloured rats, it looked to be around 60+ adults, babies, juveniles all in together in a space the size of our hoomans garden shed. It seemed over crowded and a one was sitting on it’s own looking puffed up and miserable. Not sure how rats are supposed to be kept but it didn’t feel right and there wasn’t anyone round that the hooman could mention her concerns to.

        Whee would write to my local newspaper but the zoo is actually a bit of a distance. The hooman was staying overnight at a friends house while visiting and went there for the day. Whee don’t think it is an isolated incidence though. There seem to be other farms and zoos. Whee wonder if writing to them and their local papers would be enough to make them change.

        xxxx

      • Vladimir Putin wrote to the New York Times. Surely where you live doesn’t impact where you can write to. The rat thing us total RSPCA territory, and that one rat was probably sick. You may have seen that puffed up thing in sick guinea pigs, they do the same thing when they are really sick. I would think about everything you saw and report it all. Any zoo with an uncontrolled breeding population of ANYTHING is right up there with puppy mills in my book. Do you want to know they probably breed them as food? The rats at the museum were all female and adequately spaced. There were probably only 8-10 of them.

  4. We did not know any of this. We had no idea. Thanks for informing us. Have a fabulous Friday.
    Best wishes Molly

  5. I have heard of rabbits killing a guinea pig while they were only playing 😦

  6. Not knowing a lot about Piggies and Wabbits this was great..Don’t forget to enter our competition.. Right up those little Humans street 🙂 xx0xx

    Mollie and Alfie

  7. I should think guinea pigs and rabbits – even though they may have similar habitat “likes” – should be housed separate from one another – why take a chance? Seems to me the safest course is the BEST course. I’ve not seen any questionable circumstances in any zoos or petting zoos I’ve been to but if I did, I’d certainly mention it to someone there…..even if it fell on “deaf ears” I’d feel that I’d done what I could. Bravo for your Hooman!

    Kitty Hugs, Sammy

    • Exactly. Whee do feel better that whee said something even if it is very frustrating to have a response like this. Maybe some hooman somewhere else will listen and things will change.

      Whee hope so at least

      Have a lovely Friday

      Buddy
      xxxx

  8. We had a rabbit and two guinea pigs at the same time but we never allowed them to be together. We have never seen rabbits and guinea pigs housed together but common sense told us that they should not be when we took our rabbit and guinea pigs in after they were abandoned. This is an excellent and informative post. Hugs and nose kisses

    • Whee are glad you found it useful. Unfortunately a few hoomans are following the outdated and wrong advice of years ago. Thankfully the majority of pet owners are much better educated these days and that is something to be proud of at least. It is just very frustrating that hoomans in a position to teach responsible and correct pet care are choosing not to because they ‘know what they are doing’

      Rant over! Hehehe. Have a lovely Friday

      Buddy
      xxxx

  9. Forty-five years ago, when I was a young girl with guinea pigs and rabbits, we housed them separately but let them play with each other regularly. They got along splendidly and their time together relieved their loneliness. I can’t argue about the different dietary needs, but socially, they enjoyed each other as regular friends and playmates.

    • Yes. When it was too complicated to neuter rabbits hoomans did allow them to be together and play together but because they interact differently it was probably very difficult for them to understand each other. Whee are so glad the the advancements and veterinary science are able to teach us how to do the very best for us small furries!

      Buddy
      xxxx

      • Yes, I’ve had both rabbits and guinea pigs as an adult, but not at the same time or together. Thanks for the informative post.

      • Glad whee could help. Mummy has said she has been thinking of getting a bunny rabbit but I’ve put my paw down. I’m boss in this FURmily! Hehehe

        Have a great Friday

        Buddy
        xxxx

  10. Very interesting post, Buddy! It’s good to share this information since people probably don’t think about the ramifications until it’s too late. I hope my hoomans don’t put me with any other animals. I’ve got enough on my plate with two cats and two silly kids.

    Your pal, Coccolino

  11. Good information but I wabbit enthusiast like myself has trouble reading such a post and staying focused!

  12. OK, so pigs and rabbits can’t communicate with each other. Neither can most married couples.

  13. Mummy say’s this practice is very silly Bunnies can be quite tempermental and very territorial which makes them have a tendancy to bully guinea pigs even when they are frendly,and she say’s in those pigtures those piggies look like they are hiding not socialising,xx Speedy

  14. OH and we love your new header too!

  15. da tabbies o trout towne

    buddy….we trooly due knot know veree much bout piggies ore rabbits but hafta think they can turn on one another just as easilee az any other species can in any given minit….if one were sick or injured..de others will noe.. N turn on him….whoa…R momz dad had a friend who had a dawggie who turned on him…man had that dawg sinz he wuz a wee puppy N de dawg turned on de man for noe reezon after livin with him for all most 13 yeerz 😦

  16. Wow what an interesting post x

  17. Wows, I didn’t know this Buddy! I have never seen bunnies and piggies togethers before, so I never gave it any thought (cause Ma just has a big arse Airedale, and no wrabbits or piggies…).
    I am gonna keep an eye out, (well, Ma is gonna keep an eye out…doubtful she’d let me near any wrabbits or piggies!!) .
    FABulous postie…and I hopes they open their minds a bit more. Before a piggie gets hurt.
    Kisses,
    Ruby ♥

  18. I amalso not into attacking zoos either as there are the few run professionally and where the animals needs are first priority, but I have worked in one of the worst/ controversial zoos in my country as well (this was before I knew what I know about them now) and some really do cut corners. I never even heard of people keeping bunnies and guineas together until I took my vet ass. course and your right on the dot of what we learned why you should not. Unfortunetly, “certain” zoos have heaps of animal welfare problems that never get resoleved, I amactually impressed that they took the time to respond as the “certain” I was talking about is hard to imagine they ever would! Good for you though for speaking up you might have made a difference in the end, you never know 😉 xoxo leah and kirby

  19. Informative post about rabbits and piggies, learnt something new again 🙂 sorry about the zoo though…

  20. Never ever gotten a satisfactory response, maybe it’s the way I talk to them.. but I find it hard to stay objective when i’m that frustrated you know? :/

    • It is tough. I write a letter then leave it a few hour before coming back to iron out the anger as I like to say! Then I give them a week, if nothing I call every day asking about a response till I get one. I don’t give up easily!

      xxxx

  21. Our area zoo also houses a rabbit with a herd of guinea pigs, and I commented at the time, but the docent didn’t seem to have a clue. It bothered me, but I didn’t think to write them. Perhaps I should — even if I get a response like yours, at least I did *something.

  22. I’m aware I’m commenting on a super old post but I happened upon this site when looking something else up, I just finished a Horse management course at college and was shocked when I first got there to find that the animal care section housed guinea pigs and rabbits together! So this is something they are teaching students to do… awful huh 😦

  23. Hi, I’ve had a rabbit and a guinea pig for over a year now ones a boy the others a girl recently my male rabbit has started humping the female guinea pig multiple times per day, I’m scared she’s going to become hurt since she makes so much noise they’ve been together since I got them and I’m unsure whether to separate them since they have been together for so long but I don’t want her to be in pain either. What should I do?

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