Rabbits have been popular pets for hundreds of years and although misleadingly complex, there’s no question that when treated with kindness a rabbit can make a great and entertaining companion for anyone willing to put some time and effort into bonding with them. (In fact, you can read our post on how to build a better relationship with your rabbit right here!)
In the wild, rabbits rely on social cohesion for survival. Large colonies of individuals all look out for each other and although mostly silent, rabbits communicate successfully through complex body language which has helped them survive and thrive across every continent.
Rabbits need companionship and enrichment to keep them healthy. This ideally this comes in the form of another rabbit however what happens if you already have other pets at home? should you shelve your idea of adopting a house rabbit? Perhaps you already have a rabbit but like the idea of getting a dog? Would the rabbit be safe?
In this short post were talking companionship and looking at how rabbits fare alongside other pets, what pets are they compatible with, and are there any pets you really should not introduce a rabbit to? so let’s get right to it.
The short answer to this question is YES, rabbits can indeed get on successfully with other pets, however, there are a few things you should know to make sure your little one (whether its’s already an established member of your family being introduced to a new puppy or the new kid on the block meeting your other pets for the first time) is kept safe from harm.
The first thing to remember is that rabbits won’t be able to communicate as well with other species as they can with other bunnies, just as we sometimes find it difficult to understand what our bunnies are trying to tell us, rabbits won’t ever learn to speak ‘dog’ or ‘cat’.
Also as prey for many predators rabbits are instinctively nervous of other animals. Supervision will be required at all times to ensure that neither animal comes to any harm or injury. In short, always take care when introducing any animal to a rabbit and be aware that if you pair a rabbit with another pet you will need to continue to supervise even when a relationship has seemingly been established, there is always the potential that instincts may take over, be it a rabbits strong survival instinct or a canines strong hunting instinct.
Can Rabbits Get On With Dogs?
Like rabbits, dogs are also very social animals, however, the strength (and sometimes size) of a dog should always be a concern when introducing them to a bunny. Introducing the dog as a puppy to a rabbit will help as it will allow the pets to grow up together. This means that even if the dog is a large species, the similarity in size between the bunny and the pup at first meeting will mean that even if the pup does quickly start to outgrow the bunny, the canine will love the bunny as a companion that has always been around.
Older dogs introduced may perceive the introduction of a rabbit as liken to being given a new toy so if you are usually giving toys to your dog (which it quickly chews to bits) a bunny definitely might not be the best thing to introduce.
Another thing to be aware of when introducing dogs to rabbits is that dogs are extremely excitable. Even with small dogs, the potential for injury if the dog begins to leap around is a very real possibility, even if they are just being friendly.
In short, dogs and rabbits can make great companions, however, introductions should be gradual and carefully supervised for several months. You’ll need to make a judgment and carefully consider the temperament of the dog before risking it with a bunny.
When You Should Not Introduce a Dog to a Rabbit
Naturally, dogs bred for racing, such as greyhounds should never be introduced to rabbits. They have been trained for many years to chase and kill what they perceive to be a stuffed rabbit and it is likely that this ingrained instinct will never be completely forgotten.
Can Rabbits Get On With Cats?
Oddly cats seem to get on just fine with rabbits. Perhaps the similar size of an average rabbit and a domestic cat means that cats can relate easily to a bunny, or perhaps as a bunny owner we know recently commented ‘cats don’t seem to know what to make of a rabbit’. While felines don’t pose quite the same danger as a dog, introductions should still be slow and always under supervision.
Even small cats have the potential to cause pain or injury to a rabbit through their sharp claws or biting even if the intent is playful, a rabbits eyes are particularly exposed areas at risk from a cats claws. While bonding a cat with a rabbit will be easier if both are young, older ‘retirement age’ cats will also make good companions for a bunny as they tend to be a little more relaxed.
Can Rabbits Get On With Guinea Pigs?
It is often suggested that guinea pigs make good companions for a rabbit. Their similar size, dietary and housing requirements would seem to suggest that they would be perfect roommates, however, contrary to this opinion a guinea pig is not a suitable pet to house with a rabbit.
Guinea pigs are similar to rabbits in that they are social animals however whereas a rabbit will be able to find comfort in the company of humans and other animals, guinea pigs communicate through a range of squeaks and need social interaction from a companion of the same species to feel happy. In fact, its illegal in Switzerland to own just one guinea pig due to how harmful it is considered to the pigs wellbeing!
When it comes to guinea pig/rabbit pairings, there is a significant risk of a guinea pig being injured or worse by the larger rabbit. An amorous rabbit may even chase and hassle the smaller guinea pig to the point of exhaustion. If you have had a guinea pig/rabbit pairing for some time with no problems, don’t separate the pairing however we do not recommend putting these animals together if it can at all be avoided.
Can Rabbits Live With Birds?
Caged birds of certain types (finches, budgerigars) should be fine with rabbits however larger species, even those that are generally harmless such as cockatoos or parrots have the potential to cause a rabbit distress. Rabbits are long-sighted meaning that they are adapted to spot predators from a greater distance. In the wild, this may be a bird of prey a mile away, however, in closer proximity a rabbit may have an issue focusing on what it may assume is a predator (especially if it’s flying around the lounge).
It should go without saying that if you own a bird of prey, a rabbit would not make a good house guest!
Can Rabbits Live With Ferrets?
In the wild ferrets and stoats are one of a rabbits natural enemies. Despite being larger than both a rabbit is no match for these carnivorous killing machines. Ferrets and stoats are perfectly evolved for rabbit hunting and will relentlessly chase their prey to exhaustion before killing. While a rabbit is gentle in nature, domesticated ferrets retain their natural hunting instincts which makes putting these two animals together impossible.
A rabbits gentle nature means that they are able to become loving companions to many different animals, however not all companions are willing to become friends with a bunny. Before any introductions are made be sure to take into account the temperament of both animals and introduce them gradually and under supervision if you are confident that they could be a good pairing.