Rabbits and guinea pigs are social animals and best kept in pairs. Of course these animals can take some solace from human interaction, but it will very rarely be all they need to be happy.
They will likely crave the company of their own species as this is how nature intended them to be. In the wild, Rabbits and Guinea Pigs live in groups of between 10 and 20 individuals, so keeping these animals as solitary pets goes against their natural instincts.
Things to consider
- It is not recommended to attempt to bond a rabbit and guinea pig together
- Age is often irrelevant, however animals of roughly the same age have a better chance of being together for longer
- Neutering before the process begins will help towards a successful bond
- Allow plenty of time for the bond to happen
- Provide neutral ground during the bonding process, somewhere to minimise any territorial issues
- Neutered males and females from the same litter will often have the best chance of bonding
How should we keep them?
It is best to have at least two individuals when pairing either species, the intention here is to form a bonded pair who can spend their lives together. Of course, your group can be greater than two individuals but it is important to have enough space to cater for their needs. Bear in mind that a warren can reach several metres in depth, covers a large area and has many entrances. It is important not to crowd a small space with many animals, as this will have a negative effect.
Experiment with their enclosure
Have some fun! Is that not why you purchased the pets in the first place?! A great way to do this is by trying some new things with their enclosure. It is all too easy to use your local pet shop as a base to research enclosures, but why not take a look online as well? Social media offers some great examples of enclosures for both rabbits and guinea pigs.
Also, do some research online before visiting the pet shops, there is no harm in adding some DIY touches to your enclosure, so long as you can ensure it is a safe environment for them. A commonly used enclosure is a shed or Wendy house, these offer secure shelters of ample size and are easily maintained. When going down this route, it is important that the enclosure is dedicated to your pets and not used for any other purpose (tool storage for example).
A shelter must always be accompanied by a large run, as this is where the animals will be stretching their legs and having some fun. They also need hiding places where they can spend some time apart from each other if they want to.
The benefits of pairs
The benefits of keeping these animals in numbers are great, as living a solitary life can lead to loneliness and boredom. It is important to avoid this happening, as bored animals can have behavioural problems. They may find entertainment by chewing their surroundings (your furniture) or even turn to self-harm, something we certainly do not want.
Keeping these animals in numbers increases their chances of happiness. They can chat, play, snuggle and do all the things these social animals do in the wild. Furthermore, watching bonded individuals can be very satisfying for us humans too, apart from the fact that your furniture could last longer!
There is no saying that these animals cannot live solitary lives, but they have a greater chance of happiness when they live in pairs or groups.