Rats are intelligent, cute, and playful pets, and although a lot more gentle, rabbits are also smart, adorable, and equally playful. Thus, it might sound like a brilliant idea to let the two have some fun together at first, but does it only sound good, or is it actually safe? We’re here to answer this.
So, can pet rats and rabbits live safely together? No, pet rats and rabbits can’t live safely together. Here’s why:
- Rats might think of it as “playing” when they pull the rabbit’s fur out or cause it to run.
- Rabbits can kick the rat pretty aggressively, which can cause injuries.
- Unvaccinated rats can also transmit bacteria and fleas to rabbits.
Let’s dive in and read about some good reasons as to why the pet rats and rabbits need to stay separated & how you can avoid them coming in contact.
Why Should Pet Rats and Rabbits Be Separated?
Rats can attack rabbits
Pet rats are much less aggressive than your regular rodents, but they still pose a danger to a rabbit’s well-being. Pet rats can attack rabbits during playtime. They will chase them, ride on them and occasionally bite on their fur, all of which is very distressing to a gentle animal like a rabbit. If pet rats are left loose, they can get inside a rabbit’s pen and claim the place. They might annoy the bunny, who needs space to hop around and sleep.
Now we assume you’re keeping great care of your pet rats and feeding them regularly. In that case, this shouldn’t be a problem, but if rats are hungry, they can attack the bunny’s babies. Rats can’t be tamed and trained like cats and dogs. They can give in to their behavioral instincts. Never trust leaving rats alone with baby rabbits.
Rabbits can injure rats
Like we’ve mentioned, rats can be a nuisance to rabbits, but rabbits can also pose some danger to the rats. Now, this is usually never intentional, but rabbits can injure rats, especially if the bunny is large-sized.
Large rabbits not only intimidate rabbits, but they can also hurt them. If you leave both alone, and rats are chasing the rabbits, chances are the little rodents might get under the paw of your furry bunny. Rabbit kicks also pack a ton of strength and can be fatal to rats if hit in the wrong spot. It’s still very rare for rabbits to actually hurt a rat, but it’s a possibility nonetheless.
Additionally, an overprotective rabbit mother can attack a rat if it manages to get inside the pen while she is nursing her little babies.
Rats can transmit microorganisms
Pet rats kept in good condition don’t get sick very often. If you schedule regular visits to the vet and give medicines and supplements on time when they’re ill, there’s not much to worry about. However, if you’re a new rat owner or have recently adopted a rat, your rat may carry some microorganisms that can transfer to your bunny. It can be common fleas. Rats can also have mycoplasma bacteria from birth, and they can transfer to a bunny.
Furthermore, there might be some bacteria or viruses that rats or rabbits carry but are immune to. If they transfer to one another and the other species aren’t immune, it can lead to health issues, e.g., rat-bite fever.
Rats can eat rabbit food
Rats are low maintenance pets, in a sense that they eat literally anything, even foods that are toxic to them. It’s the owner’s job to feed them limited quantities of foods that are healthy for them and provide them with all the necessary nutrients.
But if you let your rats loose and they somehow gain access to the rabbit’s pen, they will start munching on the rabbit’s food. This is not a big issue for the rabbit as it’ll eventually get more food, it’s unhealthy for the rat. It’ll lead the rat to gain excess weight and can cause organ damage. Plus, some foods are toxic for rats, even if they aren’t for rabbits, just as bananas and mangoes.
Can Rats and Rabbits Ever Come in Contact?
If your rabbit lives in a big enough cage or coop that rats can’t access, you can let them play around. Bunnies also love to sit by the rat cage and watch them eat and play. The two animals get along really well when they’re given space. Of course, be sure to supervise your pets when they’re out of their cages and keep them locked or open in separate rooms at night (although it’s not too good of an idea to keep rats open all night long).
Of course, every pet owner has a different experience with their pets. There are stories of pet rabbits and rats getting along really well and becoming playtime buddies. It definitely depends upon the nature of your pets, but the more educated decision is to keep the two separate and avoid risking either one’s well-being.
How Do I Keep Pet Rats and Rabbits Away From Each Other?
Set different playtimes
If your rats and rabbits share the same space, and they play in the same room, set different timings for both of them. Sometimes let the rats out first and other times keep them waiting in line behind the rabbit. Just make sure that if either of them is playing, the other one is in a different room or is locked. Don’t let the second one out before the first one is done and locked up.
If you want to test how the two animals interact with each other or if they get along well, supervise while they’re together. Make sure they don’t get in a fight. If you’re letting the rats out when the rabbit’s locked in the same room, check the pen after a couple of minutes and make sure no rat has sneaked inside. If you’re letting the rabbits play, make sure they don’t knock over the rat cage.
Keep in different rooms at night
If you do have enough space in your home to keep the two pets separated, then keep them in different rooms at night. Rats are very intelligent, and so are bunnies. Both of them can be mischievous escape artists. They also have a curious nature, and they may look for each other’s cages in the middle of the night. If you don’t want them causing mayhem together in a room, keep them away from each other.
Keep the rat cage locked
Of course, if you don’t have enough room, you can keep them together in a room. Just improvise on the cage protection. Rats are sneaky rodents, and they can find their way out of their cages easily, so keep the cage locked at all times (except for playtime). The grill of the cage shouldn’t give the rats enough space to squeeze their way out. Good security on the rat cage will solve most of your issues, especially when you’re away during the day and sleeping during the night.
Protect the rabbit pen
To prevent rats from getting inside the rabbit pen, try finding a rat proof mesh that you can cover the pen with. Rabbits getting out isn’t a big issue since the most they’re going to do is topple over the rat cage, but to make sure they don’t escape during playtime or at night, increase the height of the pen so much that they can’t get out in a single hop. Place weights over the pen if necessary.
In short, rats and rabbits should not be kept together, and they should be observed whenever in close proximity. There is too much risk in leaving rats and rabbits together.
Also, if you have other rodents, you might find this article useful: Can Pet Rats Live with Mice or Guinea Pigs?
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- Science Direct- Rat Bite Fever
- Wikipedia- Fleas
- Comparative analysis of the genomes of the bacteria Mycoplasma pneumoniae and Mycoplasma genitalium
- Experimental analysis of instinctive behavior.