Why Rabbits and Guinea Pigs should not be housed together.
1. Guinea Pigs Carry Bordetella Bronchiseptica, this can kill Your Rabbit, it is often harmless for cavy to carry.
2. Rabbits & Cavy have different dietary requirements, the amount of green/ fresh feed needed to ward of scurvy in Cavy will give your rabbits scour which can be fatal, one or the other living together WILL suffer from having the wrong diet. Rabbits require a mostly DRY diet with a small amount of veg.
3. Rabbits have VERY strong hind legs, enough to kill a Guinea Pig if kicked and can take out an eye with their long hind claws.
4. Rabbits are generally a lot bigger and heavier than Guinea Pigs and if a rabbit get amorous..... you can guess the rest.
5. And finally, NO guinea Pigs and Rabbits can't breed together tho rabbits do try..and try...and try...!
Guinea Pigs are a herd animal who like safety in numbers, and are highly social animals.
Groups of sows can live together
Groups of boars can live together
You can introduce young to older animals (Under close supervision at first) of the same sex
Please remember each time you add an animal into the herd, the pecking order needs to be re-established and dominant behavior will occur.
Bunnies are a highly territorial animal who do not suffer from not being with their own kind, as with all animals they need toys, exercise and lots of love and attention from you.
Never, never introduce a baby to an adult, or two adults of the same sex, rabbits can fight to the death and cause extreme injuries to each other.
2 Sisters from the same litter may live together for a while but not usually peacefully once they reach maturity and the hormones kick in, you can try de-sexing them, but some behaviours can not be changed buy de-sexing alone
The number 1 Killer of domestic pet rabbits is HEAT.
Move your rabbits under the shelter of trees for summer and part shade for winter.
I know most people wouldn't do this but it has been done, FISH TANKS ARE FOR FISH NOT RABBITS OR GUINEA PIGS!! There is not enough air flow, it builds up condensation and ammonia fumes which are harmful to your rabbit.
Metal Hutches are a cruel and unnecessary means of housing a "Loved pet" Metal cages were used during Wars as a means of torture called hot boxes, why would you do this to a member of your family. Wood makes for a lovely home. Do not suspend your rabbit in a wire bottom cage with just a board to sit on, how would you like it?
Hutches need to have an enclosed sleeping area, full of hay to eat and snuggle into, please make sure if you are making one, to allow for the bunny to grow and to comfortably be able to enter and exit the sleeping area when fully grown.
Bunny's need to move and stretch, they are an active animal, if building your own hutch, make it at least 6 feet long and 3 feet wide, add wheels for easy maneuvering and make full access available for picking up your bunny and cleaning. Rabbits dig so a wire bottom is necessary. Chicken wire is too soft, a wire 1inch x 1inch is a good size, you don't want it too big or the Bunny's foot will go through when you move the cage and can result in a broken leg.
Shade cloth on the top of the hutch and one side is a good idea, not on all sides as it can contain too much heat on a very hot day and prevent airflow. Fly screen to protect bunny from mozzies is a must as they carry Calici & Mxyo.
Allow for shade to move during the day and move your bunnies accordingly, rule of thumb, if it is too hot for you to stay outside, it is too hot for your bunny, bring him/her inside to lay on cool tiles or near a fan. A frozen water bottle in the hutch also helps.
Hutches need to be kept clean, ammonia build up can make for a very sick bunny, most Bunny's will find a spot in the cage to use as a toilet, you can add a litter tray and clean daily-2ND daily, small amount of hay will help to absorb the urine and keep their feet clean.
A blanket for bedding is not recommended, they need hay and will eat the blanket, not healthy for a bunny tummy.
A large A frame hutch, home made large hutch or a brought 2 story one are all OK as long as they are appropriate to the size of the rabbit, or the size it is GOING to be! Add a play pen to the front or around the hutch to make it roomier.
When returning your rabbit to it's hutch or play pen put them down rear end first, the ground coming up to a Bunny's face is very scary and it can make them kick out in fear. Do not poke at your bunny, you are asking for a bitten finger!
One of our home made double hutches before the shade cloth was put on the top, Fully grown dwarf lop on both sides. Note it is high enough for them to stretch upwards, and to lay in any position they want to with out touching the wire.
Food and Water
Water must be provided at all times, a drink bottle must be filled DAILY with cool fresh water, in summer 2-3 times may be necessary, Rabbits will not drink warm water. A ceramic dish is also recommend to be used as well, you can add ice cubes to this during summer to help cool down your rabbit. Lops love to dip their ears in as it helps to cool them down, others like to have a little splash.
A hanging water bottle needs to be checked daily as the ball bearing can stick, be aware when hanging it that it is not to high or low, observe your bunny using it and position it accordingly.
A water bottle will not work properly if it is hung facing up wards on a sloping back yard, it must hang facing down the slope so the ball bearing is at the end of the stopper at all times.
Do not hose or put you rabbit in a pool to cool down unless suffering from heat stroke and only then cool water not cold!, Rabbits are very hard to dry and the fur can rot off if exposed to too much water over time. Especially in winter with wet feet.
Rabbits require a mainly dry diet consisting mostly of hay, a good horse mix and a small amount of lucerne chaff/oaten chaff, if kept on grass move cage daily. Fruit and veg should only be given sparingly, veggie peelings and tops are plenty, do not give iceberg lettuce, onions, potato, avocado or rhubarb. Carrot, apple, cucumber, corn on the cob are all OK, water melon on a hot day is very popular, not to much! Treat size only ( size of an egg for a lop) Dry food 1/2 - 1 cup a day depending on size of rabbit, hay to be available at all times.( Meadow hay NOT lucerne). Do not allow your rabbit to become obese! Fat rolls down the legs and huge dew laps ( Fat rolls under the chin on does) prevent the bunny from being able to clean themselves properly and they are unhealthy! Cut down the grain and add more hay, do this slowly.
* Do not give dried fruit that has a preservative called sulphur dioxide, this is toxic to animals.
Exercise & Toys
A rabbit requires a LOT of exercise, a bored bunny is sad and destructive. You must be able to provide them time out to play on their own and to stretch their legs, after a good play and run around THEN let the children handle them and cuddle them. Why would a bunny be happy being kept confined all day and then dragged out to be confined in a humans arms then put back into the confinement of their homes? No wonder they kick and squirm, they need exercise, they are not being unfriendly!
An X Pen ( Puppy/bunny play pen) or a home built enclosure is perfect. Make it large, secure and with shade, fill with baskets( Untreated cane) with hay, boxes of hay and cat play tunnels and watch them go!! Add a child to keep them company in the pen and everyone is happy! A cardboard box will doors cut into it is also a lot of fun.
A minimum of 2-3 hours per day for exercise, if you can not provide this then consider another pet. A bunny dos not deserve to live out his/her life day after day sitting in a cage only being fed once a day as his/her only human contact.
Toys are a must, wooden toys used for parrots, containers to stack, plastic balls with bells, small baby toys ( Plastic keys) made sure it is pet friendly, has no lead paint and small bits that can be chewed off and cause choking or stomach blockages.
A rabbit savvy vet is a must, rabbits are at risk of Calici and Myxo, you can vaccinate for Calici when the kits are 12 weeks or older, do not vaccinate in the summer months or on a very hot day. I will be adding a list of rabbit safe medication soon.
Following the basics of rabbit care will go a long way in keeping your bunny healthy, the number 1 thing you can do from day 1 is to buy from a registered breeder a FULLY WEANED kit 8 weeks or older, not a poor miserable under age bunny from a pet shop ripped from its mother while it is still "Cute" .Bunny's need their mothers! A bunny taken too young also misses out on social skills and can be quite wary of humans.
Rabbits nails do need to be trimmed from time to time, if over grown they can grow into the foot pad or get caught in the wire on the cage, both very painful. IF teeth get broken they will grow back, provide a soft diet for a week and keep an eye on the unbroken tooth, it may need to be trimmed, ask a vet to do this or an experienced rabbit breeder.
*These tips are based on how I keep my own Rabbits.
A number of antibiotics is reported dangerous in rabbits. While they help fight a bacterial infection, they bring about secondary effects like nephrotoxicity or gastrointestinal troubles that can have a fatal issue. Dysbiosis is often observed; the enteric bacterial flora, that is naturally present in the cecum and the intestines of the rabbit, is disrupted. This situation enables pathogenic bacteria, such as Clostridium spp, to grow in the GI tract and to produce dangerous toxins.
Here is a list of antibiotics that have been reported dangerous for use or fatal for rabbits. Please print it and store it in a safe place, show it to your vet in case he wants to give your rabbit antibiotics.
Name of antibiotic
40 to 100% fatal enteritis, dependent on dosage
Diarrhea after oral administration.
Diarrhea after oral administration. Injection of cephalosporin has proven safe.
50 to 100% fatal enteritis, dependent on dosage
33 to 100% fatal enteritis, dependent on dosage
Reduction of growth rate
Acute and/or chronic enteritis (diarrhea) after oral administration. Injection of cephalosporin has proven safe.
Fatal adverse reaction has been observed. The reaction seems rabbit dependent and it is advised to do a test dose of 5 mg/kg before doubling dosage.
Acute toxicity with 100% mortality
From: T. H. Morris: Antibiotic Therapeutics in Laboratory Animals. Laboratory Animals 29: 16-36.
Guinea pigs have poor sight, but well-developed senses of hearing and smell. Vocalization is the primary means of communication between members of the species. Some of these sounds are:
Wheek - A loud noise, the name of which is onomatopoeic, also known as a Whistle. An expression of general excitement, it may occur in response to the presence of its owner or to feeding. It is sometimes used to find other guinea pigs if they are running. If a guinea pig is lost, it may week for assistance.
Bubbling or Purring - This sound is made when the guinea pig is enjoying itself, such as when being petted or held. They may also make this sound when grooming, crawling around to investigate a new place, or when given food.
Rumbling - This sound is normally related to dominance within a group, though it can also come as a response to comfort or contentment. While courting, a male usually purrs deeply, swaying and circling the female in a behavior called "rumblestrutting".
Cutting and Whining - These are sounds made in pursuit situations, by the pursuer and pursuee, respectively.
Chattering - This sound is made by rapidly gnashing the teeth, and is generally a sign of warning. Guinea pigs tend to raise their heads when making this sound.
Squealing or Shrieking - A high-pitched sound of discontent, in response to pain or danger.
Chirping - This less-common sound, likened to bird song, seems to be related to stress. Very rarely, the chirping will last for several minutes.
Guinea pigs are unable to make their own vitamin C, this means like humans they can suffer from scurvy. They require on a daily basis lot’s of vitamin rich fresh fruit and vegetables along with fresh water and good quality grass, Hay, Lucerne, and a hard food mix, most breeders will be able to supply you with food and advice, it is essential to your guinea pigs health that they are fed the correct diet. They will die from scurvy and it is prevented by the correct diet. Unprocessed wheat bran is a great treat also. Apples, banana ( skin also) carrots, celery, broccoli, silver beet,, corn on the cob, zucchini, parsnip, pumpkin, tomato, parsley and sweet potato are all safe to feed. Never feed bread, frozen, mouldy or processed food or iceberg lettuce. If fed a healthy diet there is no need to add vitamin C to drinking water. Fresh is best.
*Do not give dried fruit as they have usually been preserved in Sulphur Dioxide it is toxic! Only fresh fruit.
How your guinea pig is housed is very important, if keeping your guinea pigs outside, make sure that the hutch is in a sheltered position, has a secure lid and has a sleeping area with a layer of wood shavings (Pet shop brought only) or newspaper, and a thick layer of good quality hay on top. Depending on how many guinea pigs you have will depend on frequency of cleaning the sleeping area, approx every 3-5 days and move hutch daily on the grass. The same for keeping a guinea pig inside, keep away from draughts, loud noises and in a quiet, well ventilated, light area with a small animal house for you guinea pig to retreat into when it likes. Please do not keep your guinea pigs on wire flooring alone, this can cause bumble foot and it is very painful!
All Guinea pigs suffer from hay mites and lice, they are very seldom seen with the naked eye and are NOT harmful to humans, but can cause unnecessary suffering to your pet. Washing every 2-3 months with fido’s free itch shampoo ( brought from pet shops and vets) and using Ausmectin ( Ivomectin) ( brought only from vets in Tas) at the rate of ONE drop behind the ear of your guinea pig every 3 months, will ensure a very happy and itch free guinea pig.
Bath your guinea pig on a warm day, in lukewarm water, do not fill tub any higher than half way up your guinea pigs legs, gently wet your guinea pig and shampoo fido’s free-itch well into the coat, let stand for 5 Min's and gently rinse off with clean warm water, wrap your guinea pig in a towel and towel dry, if it is a really warm day let them dry off in the sun, if not finish off with the hair dryer, on LOW heat and not too close to the skin, keep your hand between the guinea pig and the air to gauge the heat being directed at your guinea pig.
Guinea pigs can live together in same sex pairs or groups, never alone and never with rabbits; there are a few basic rules to follow when housing more than one guinea pig.
2 boars (boy’s) can live together, provided they are litter mates, on rare occasions you can introduce a baby to an adult, but only under strict supervision. If two boars are housed happily together do not introduce a sow (female) they will fight, even if the sow in only smelling distance away.
Several sows can live together happily, from the same litter and often other introduced females also, remember each time you add another sow, the pecking order changes and there will be some dominate behaviour, supervise all introduction of new guinea pigs.
If a boar is housed with many sows there will be babies. Never over breed your guinea pigs and remove the boar before the babies are born, 2 -3 litters per sow a year is more than enough.
Remember to quarantine all
Cavies love to play, add some plastic tubes and some wooden arch ways for them to play in, they also love to throw toys, any small baby toy such as plastic key rings, pigloos ( small animal houses) are a huge hit, found at pet-shops your Cavies will love them!
* Some Guinea Pigs will not get along with any others and will need to be kept alone.
Guinea pigs should never be bred under the age of 6 months or under 500grams, or over the age of 8 months with their first litter, less than 6 months the guinea pig is still growing. With age the pelvic ligaments start to stiffen, which will make delivery hard on Your sow and you may loose both the sow and the babies. Roan to Roan, Dalmatian to Dalmatian and Roan to Dalmatian should never be bred together; this produces a lethal gene, and will result in deformed and brain damaged babies. You must remove the boar from the sow before she gives birth to prevent postpartum mating. For advice on breeding contact a registered breeder first.
Setting up house
I am often asked “What will I need?” There are many aspects to owning, housing and providing for a cavy over THEIR life time, in a very small amount of time costs can add up and the ongoing costs of feeding and housing must be taken into consideration. Remember a well cared for cavy can live up to 8 Years of age, where will you be in 8 years? With your cavy we hope!
Out Door Hutch
Metal run/playpen ( visit http://dandelionguineapigs.piczo.com/) to see a fantastic enclosure
Fruit & vegetables
Fidos Free itch Shampoo
Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday
½-1 cup dry food ½- 1 cup dry food ½-1 cup dry food ½-1cup dry food ½-1cup dry food
Grass Grass Grass Grass Grass
½ carrot ½ tomato Broccoli ¼ orange, peeled 1 kiwi fruit
½ apple 1 stick celery ¼ cucumber ¼ banana Silver beet
Saturday Sunday Other recommended foods
½-1 cup Dry food ½-1cup dry food Fresh corn on the cob, Zucchini, Sweet Potato, Cauliflower,
Grass Grass Grapes, Mango, Capsicum, Brussel Sprouts, Endive, Beans,
Big slice cantaloupe 1 stick celery Parsnip, Pumpkin, Peas, Strawberries, Pears, Apricots,
¼ tomato ½ carrot Alfalfa Sprouts, Beetroot, Papaya, Asparagus, Chinese cabbage
You can also add your nightly veggie peeling to the diet plan; parsley is a great source of vitamin C.
Never feed, bread, avocado, potato (sweet potato is fine) rhubarb or cooked, mouldy or frozen foods, no processed human foods, only fresh is best.
Cavy Clubs are a great way to meet new people with a love of Guinea Pigs; you do not have to have a pedigree, show quality cavy to join.
Many people get involved by bringing their children to “Pet Class”, Pet Class is designed to help children interact with their pet in a fun, learning environment, there are for example: Fancy Dress, Races, Fastest Eater, Best Pet Condition, Cutest Face and a lot more fun activities.
The bonus of being a club member is that you have a wealth of Cavy knowledge at your finger tips! Cavy Breeders/Exhibitors are a very friendly group who love to share any information they have acquired through many years of showing, breeding and judging cavy, both with-in
It is a great way to keep a child’s interest in their pet, there is more to Cavy than just having them sitting in a cage all day being bored and lonely!
Pet Classes are entered on the day at a minimal cost ( Usually $5 per Cavy, please check with the club you are a member of) and this covers all sections of the pet class.
All pet Cavy must have been bathed the day before the show in a recommended product such as Fido’s Free Itch Shampoo, to help eliminate the spread of lice/mites to other exhibitors animals, and have had their nails cut, if you need help cutting nails please ask club members for advice.
There are 2 Cavy Clubs in
Visitors and members are most welcome at both clubs.
Both clubs can be found on Facebook