A rabbit and guinea pig shouldn’t be allowed to play together because of differences in their social interactions and understanding of other species. A guinea pig is unlikely to harm a rabbit, but a rabbit may harm a guinea pig because of the difference in size.[toc]
Is it Possible for My Guinea Pig and Rabbit to Play Together?
Every pet owner’s dream is for their fur babies to live and play together in perfect harmony. If you are the owner of both a rabbit and a guinea pig, you may wonder if they can play together without starting a conflict. After all, the two do share plenty of similarities; adorable twitching noses, fluffy fur with unique patterns, and dynamic personalities.
However, as similar as they may seem, rabbits and guinea pigs aren’t the same species and may have trouble getting along when it comes to playtime.
Rabbits and Guinea Pigs Interact Differently While Playing
Guinea pigs and rabbits are both social creatures. The Humane Society of the United States suggests it may be a good idea to keep more than one guinea pig to avoid loneliness because of their highly interactive nature. Rabbits also enjoy being together and benefit from having a companion to keep them company.
With both animals being social creatures, you may expect your rabbit and guinea pig to become fast friends. However, this is not usually the case.
Although the two enjoy socialization, their behaviors are unique to their species. On first meeting, a rabbit may misinterpret a friendly invitation to play from a guinea pig as aggressive, which can become a gateway for fighting.
Since different animals socialize in different ways, one animal’s attempt to start harmless fun could be seen as aggressive.
This difference in social cues causes a gap in understanding, making it difficult for rabbits and guinea pigs to get along, let alone engage in a playful relationship.
Rabbits and Guinea Pigs are Different Sizes
Although rabbits are not typically aggressive, they can become unintentional bullies to guinea pigs while playing.
Rabbits come in many sizes, depending on the breed. Even a small rabbit will likely be larger than the average-sized guinea pig.
Your rabbit may not be aware that they are physically larger than a guinea pig and unintentionally harm them during play.
Rabbits and Guinea Pigs Have Different Play Styles
The play styles of guinea pigs and rabbits are also different. A rabbit may play-bite a potential friend to initiate a game, which leads to a bonding moment between the two.
Guinea pigs might chase each other or play tug-of-war with their favorite toy. If a rabbit attempts to nip a guinea pig in an innocent attempt to play, the guinea pig may view this behavior as threatening and show signs of aggression.
In return, if a guinea pig tries to hump a rabbit trying to play, they may see it as domineering and try to flip the guinea pig as well. Because different animals have different play styles, it may be hard for the two of them to understand each other.
Rabbits and Guinea Pigs Use Different Body Language During Play
Like many animals, both rabbits and guinea pigs use body language to communicate. For example, guinea pigs show a unique behavior when they are happy or agitated that is commonly referred to as “popcorning.”
When popcorning, a guinea pig will jump in the air in rapid movements, thus the comparison to kernels of corn popping. Rabbits show their emotions through body language as well. A happy rabbit may lie down with their body flat on the ground to show they are happy and comfortable. They may also jump up on all fours, showing similarities to a guinea pig’s popcorning.
However, if a guinea pig starts to popcorn around a rabbit during play, it may scare the rabbit or cause an angry reaction. Despite the similarities in behavior, animals of a certain species primarily better understand the body language of their own kind.
Rabbits Can Spread Illness to Guinea Pigs While Playing
If you are a guinea pig parent, you may be aware of the fact that they are subject to respiratory illnesses.
A respiratory illness relates to difficulties in breathing and can affect the lungs and airways. Like humans, guinea pigs can catch illnesses such as the flu and pneumonia. However, unlike us, they may have difficulty recovering as quickly.
Rabbits carry specific bacteria that can cause a serious respiratory illness if caught by guinea pigs. The rabbits cannot catch this illness, but if a rabbit interacts or plays with a guinea pig, they may spread the bacteria and cause the guinea pig to become ill.
Such respiratory illnesses can cause painful symptoms in guinea pigs and, if left untreated, can lead to an untimely death.
Many vets advise pet owners to keep their rabbits and guinea pigs separate to ensure that the guinea pig doesn’t become ill. Keeping the two animals separate and not letting them play together is a way to ensure that your rabbit can’t transfer any of its harmful bacteria to your guinea pig.
Keep Guinea Pigs and Rabbits Separated
It is likely not the best idea to let your guinea pig and rabbit play together unless it is in a closely monitored environment.
Because of the differences in species, different means of social interaction, and the potential spread of bacteria, you will probably want to keep your furry friends separate.
However, just because your rabbit and guinea pig likely won’t get along doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t stimulate your pets in other ways. Make sure both of your animals have toys to play with, and you may even want to consider adopting a new rabbit or guinea pig to keep your current fur baby company.
Bonding by play is an excellent way to connect with your guinea pig and create a lasting owner-pet relationship for years to come.
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