Guinea Pigs And Rabbits – Right Or Risky?
This is Buddy here. Your investigative reporter piggy!
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
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?
((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.))
Posted on September 13, 2013, in Piggy Blogs and tagged can guinea pigs be killed by rabbits, cavies, cavy, guinea pig blog, guinea pig blogger, guinea pigs, guinea pigs being kept with rabbits, why it is dangerous to keep guinea pigs with rabbits. Bookmark the permalink. 58 Comments.