If you already have a pet rodent, you may think that it’s a good idea to pair them up with another rodent and let them live together. However, this may not always be the best idea.
So, can pet rats live with mice or guinea pigs? No. Pairing rodent pets with other rodent pets may seem like a good idea, but the truth is that rats, mice, and guinea pigs shouldn’t be in the same habitat. You can have all three, but keep them in separate cages and allow them to meet closely only under supervision.
Having more than one kind of rodent is possible but under very specific conditions. If you want to add to your pet family, read on to find out how to do so while keeping all of your pets healthy and happy.
Rats and Guinea Pigs
While they’re often exhibited in the same area of the pet store, and they share some attributes, these rodents are as far apart as they can be. Their ability to live together will depend on what you expect from them.
If you want them to be roommates, this may not be possible. However, this will depend on their individual personalities. Most likely, though, they’ll like to sniff each other through the bars, but they wouldn’t like living together.
Rats and guinea pigs are similar in that they both love company. This doesn’t mean that they like being with each other, but that they need a companion of their own kind. They are also very territorial.
For instance, if your rat wasn’t raised with other rats from birth, they will most likely fight their roommate. At the same time, guinea pigs love company even if they weren’t raised with others, but as long as there aren’t two males in the same cage or habitat.
Naturally, this means that they would be territorial with each other, too — they may fight.
Living together wouldn’t be natural to them since they both need their own space and their own form of exercising. A rat will climb the bars on the cage and explore the world around them, but guinea pigs are a lot slower, and they do things differently.
They are also quite different when it comes to what they eat. Guinea pigs eat plants while rats are omnivores. Your guinea pig has evolutionally always been prey to other animals, and they will hide their sickness if they perceive the rat as a danger. While a rat will not eat a guinea pig, they might bite them. This could result in a bigger injury.
As a bonus, guinea pigs are quite nervous and sensitive, and there’s always a danger of transmitting diseases between different species.
So, guinea pigs and rats need separate homes. However, you can keep them in the same room. The separate homes should be a lot different too. Guinea pigs need large, low cages or habitats because they run, they don’t climb. At the same time, your rat will need a tall cage with objects that they can climb on.
Your guinea pig will need specific food to eat — vitamin C, hay, fresh vegetables, and fruits — while a rat should eat the pellets or blocks of food specifically meant for them, along with some human food.
When it comes to playtime, you should be careful. Sure, there have been some unlikely pairings, but your rat and guinea pig may not like each other. A bad playdate could result in a lot of stress or injuries.
If you think that they would be an okay pairing, supervise their meetings and pay close attention to what they are doing.
But if you are looking to pair them up in the same cage, you should know that this is not recommended. They are not natural friends, they need different food and amount of space, and they could be dangerous to each other. Of course, their cages could take up a lot of space, but then consider having only one rodent pet, especially if you don’t have the conditions to keep both.
Rats and Mice
Mice and rats both like being social, but only if it means being surrounded by other animals of their kind. While this doesn’t seem like a big problem, you should know that a rat will kill mice or smaller rodents like hamsters. They are territorial, and you can expect predatory behavior to occur.
Generally, the relationship between mice and rats is similar to the one rats have with guinea pigs. They need different types of spaces, different food, and they wouldn’t be excited to share a cage.
So, if you were considering having them share a cage, you should give up on that notion. However, you can have both pets, as long as you keep them in separate cages. They can be in the same room, but they shouldn’t play with each other. Let them out of their cages interchangeably.
You should keep their habitats apart too.
Rats and Other Rodents
Depending on the type of rodent that you get, rats may be able to cohabitate with them.
Syrian hamsters, for one, are adorable, but they are also very aggressive and territorial. They’ll attack each other, and they can’t live with another hamster in the same cage. Just like that, they won’t be able to live with a rat. Most likely, they won’t even be friendly.
Dwarf hamsters can live with their own species in the same cage, but only if they meet as baby hamsters. So, if you get an adult rat and an adult dwarf hamster, they will not be able to live with each other, even though a rat and a hamster that grew up together might be more friendly. However, you shouldn’t put them in the same cage as they have different needs.
Gerbils can easily live in the company of other gerbils, but they will end up attacked by your rat. In general, rats can be a bit aggressive to any species they perceive as prey.
To determine whether your two rodents will be able to live together, you should research the specific species of both parties. Not all hamsters are the same, and not all the rats are the same. If their species tells you that they are not territorial or aggressive, you may be able to introduce them to each other.
To determine their exact type, talk with a vet or someone that’s an expert in these topics. Some rodents are not social to the extreme, and pairing them even with their own species could be deadly.
Of course, they have their own personalities just like humans do, and an odd companionship here and there isn’t that strange, but it’s best to steer on the safe side. Keep in mind that the best companion to your rat will be another rat, and the best companion to any of these other rodents are animals of their exact species — or none.
A good rule of thumb is to check if a rodent can even live with their own species. If they can’t, they will absolutely not be able to live with other rodent species.
Animals also have different needs, and one cage won’t work out for most of them. The food can also be a problem. If a guinea pig or a mouse eats something that rats can eat, but they can’t, this can be dangerous for them.
A small rodent such as a mouse wouldn’t be able to get the amount of food that they need if they are living with a larger rodent like a guinea pig or a rat. Even toys can be dangerous if a wrong type of rodent gets to them.
For instance, while chinchillas love dust baths, hamsters could choke if they use it.
- RSPCA: Appropriate company for rats
- The Spruce: The Difference Between Rats and Mice and Why It Matters
- Quora: Can rats and mice cohabit peacefully?
- Quora: Do rats get along with guinea pigs?
- La Feber Vet: Behavior Essentials: The Guinea Pig
- NCBI: Nutrient Requirements of the Laboratory Rat
- PFMA: Guinea Pigs – Nutritional Requirements
- Penn State Animal Resource Program: Social, Maternal and Aggressive Behaviors in Rodents
- Wikipedia: Gerbil
- Wikipedia: Grey Dwarf Hamster
- Wikipedia: Golden Hamster