GUINEA PIGS & RABBITS?
Can rabbits and guinea pigs live together?
It is important that we remember that the best companion for a rabbit is another rabbit, and the best companion for a guinea pig is another guinea pig. It is possible the animals may seem content living together; this is not unheard of, but in most cases, rabbits and guinea pigs can't communicate or understand each other as well as they would with a companion of their own kind.
People often worry that rabbits can injure guinea pigs as they have powerful back legs. Guinea pigs have a very dense bone structure, but injury from this is still a possibility. It really depends on their temperaments. Some rabbits may try to chase or 'attack' guinea pigs which can lead to stress, and because stress can cause illness in guinea pigs, it is best to keep them separate. The size of the rabbit is another factor, since a larger rabbit is likely to be more powerful and potentially cause an injury to a guinea pig.
Another concern people have is that both animals can not communicate with each other, and that they can not understand the different body language. An example of this is that rabbits thump when they feel they are in danger, to warn the other rabbits - however, guinea pig do not do this (though the thought of a thumping guinea pig is quite hilarious!). Guinea pigs also have a very vast vocabulary, whereas rabbits do not generally make many sounds. Overall, guinea pigs and rabbits can not communicate very easily, as they would with companions of their own kind, though I do believe that they do have other ways of interacting and understanding each other to a certain extent.
Rabbits, dogs and cats carry the bacteria bordetella bronchiseptica. There are widespread beliefs that housing the animals together can cause respiratory disease. Guinea pigs with healthy functioning immune systems reject this bacteria and it does not cause problems. If the guinea pigs have a weakened immune system, there is a risk that they may not be able to fight off the bacteria as efficiently as they should (for example, very young guinea pigs, ill guinea pigs etc).
Please note: I am not promoting housing the animals together, since they are best housed with companions of their own kind. I have had success with supervised playtime with both the rabbits and guinea pigs, however decided that it was best to keep them separated.
If the animals are housed together or share a playpen, here are some basic guidelines to follow:
Provide an area that the guinea pigs can access, where the rabbits can not get to, and a good idea would be to include an area where the rabbits can also get away from the guinea pigs.
Ensure you have two of each animal.
Make sure the guinea pigs are receiving enough Vitamin C. Guinea pigs can not synthesise their own Vitamin C, therefore they have a higher requirement for this in the source of food. For example broccoli and bell peppers as these are a great source of Vitamin C, though there are many other fresh foods containing high amounts of this.
They must have a spacious accommodation - this is necessary if they are sharing a space.
Male rabbits should be neutered to prevent or reduce aggression and dominant behaviour.