Keeping guinea pigs and rabbits together in one cage – is that possible?
Many people wonder if they can keep guinea pigs and rabbits together in one cage. This question arises above all when a rabbit or guinea pig is left alone after a death and is to be given a partner again.
In this article you will find out whether the socialization of guinea pigs and rabbits really works and what you should definitely pay attention to.
Guinea pigs and rabbits – A difficult combination
At first glance, rabbits and guinea pigs are very similar and have similar needs: they live in groups, eat hay and forage, and can both be kept indoors or outdoors. In addition, none of the animals have to be castrated during socialization and no offspring are born. Pet owners often cannot decide between the cute rodents and want to keep both rabbits and guinea pigs as pets.
No wonder, then, that one can quickly come up with the idea of keeping guinea pigs and rabbits together. This combination is even recommended by many pet stores.
If you take a closer look, you can see that socializing guinea pigs and rabbits is very difficult. Rabbits and guinea pigs have completely different languages. Misunderstandings and disputes are therefore inevitable when rabbits and guinea pigs are kept together and a rabbit can never replace a guinea pig with a conspecific and vice versa.
Rabbits and guinea pigs and their different languages
Rabbits communicate with each other mainly through body language and only make a few sounds. In contrast, guinea pigs have a diverse phonetic language that they use to communicate with each other. So if a single guinea pig lives with a rabbit, it will never hear a “word of its language” and the rabbit may feel stressed and disturbed by the guinea pig’s vocalizations.
Guinea pigs warn and impress their fellows by chattering their teeth. If a rabbit grinds its teeth, it is a sign that it is happy.
Rabbits greet each other with friendly nudges on the face, and they also enjoy cuddling with their fellow rabbits often. Regular mutual cleaning is part of their normal social behavior.
Although guinea pigs like to be within sight of their peers, they generally avoid direct physical contact. They also sniff each other’s faces to greet each other, but don’t touch each other. A nudge would be more of a request to distance yourself. They only cuddle with other guinea pigs when they are scared or when it is cold.
In the guinea pig group, the lower-ranking guinea pigs will stop if a higher-ranking guinea pig sniffs or touches them. They also stop when a rabbit does that. Because of their body size, rabbits are usually clearly superior in rank to the smaller guinea pigs. Rabbits will therefore repeatedly pressure and stress guinea pigs by making advance attempts to cuddle or clean them.
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