Rabbits and hamsters are among the most popular pets in German-speaking countries.
The problem: many animal lovers can’t decide between the two.
So why not get rabbits AND hamsters and keep both animals together? But is that even possible? Would the animals feel comfortable in a common cage?
There is the answer now!
Can hamsters and rabbits live together?
Rabbits and hamsters should not be kept together due to their different care, character traits and food requirements.
They might get along, but a shared cage is still not recommended due to lifestyles and communication.
Preliminary Consideration: Why might rabbits and hamsters be kept together?
Both need a cage or home that has absorbent bedding and where they can burrow.
In addition, it seems to make sense at first, since this way neither animal has to be alone, but they cannot reproduce among themselves even without neutering.
If there is not enough space, but both species are to be kept, a common cage may seem to be a suitable solution.
Also, in the event of the death of another rabbit or the unexpected addition of another animal, the mixed WG may seem like a good solution.
However, it is not.
This is why you should NOT keep rabbits and hamsters together.
On the one hand, the character of rabbits and hamsters is similar: both defend their territory against others and thus protect their resources.
However, the decisive factor is that rabbits are very social.
They can live in large groups, get along with each other, cuddle and play, groom each other, sleep contacting and have a distinctive communication among themselves.
With hamsters this behaves differently.
They are solitary animals except for the mating season.
After reproductive maturity, they no longer play with each other and require a greater individual distance.
Exceptions are dwarf hamsters, which can be kept together with sufficient space, separate feeding areas and drinking opportunities. Even then, however, you must expect that they may breed undesirably or that conflicts may arise and serious injuries may be risked.
Rabbits thus form permanent bonds, while hamsters only want to engage in loose contact from time to time.
Already here, therefore, very different characters meet.
The size difference
Rabbits and hamsters have very different sizes and weights. There is therefore a considerable risk of injury to the smaller hamster.
Thereby the rabbit does not have to have bad intentions. Even one wrong step or jump is enough to break bones or create flesh wounds.
Alone this big difference you should not underestimate. Because the hamster is permanently exposed to a stress situation by the rabbit, since it represents a threat and even a life danger for him.
However, a risk of injury is also present in rabbits: Despite their small size, hamsters have a large bite force and sharp nail teeth.
Rabbits, on the other hand, have very sensitive and delicate skin.
Therefore, a bite by the hamster is enough for festering wounds and severe inflammation, which can even lead to death.
Hamsters are primarily crepuscular to nocturnal.
Thus, they can disturb the sleep of the rabbit, who wants his rest at night. It is the same in the opposite relation. If the rabbit is active during the day, it disturbs the hamster.
Both animals are thereby exposed to considerable stress.
This has a negative effect on behavior.
The individuals become more irritable and react aggressively more quickly. The coexistence, but also the health are thus impaired.
Hamsters and rabbits both belong to the rodents, but they have different demands on food.
While hamsters also need protein-rich food of animal origin, this is not suitable for rabbits. Even otherwise, the higher calorie and higher fat diet of a hamster is not suitable for rabbits.
Likewise, the rabbit diet would be unhealthy for a hamster.
The problem in keeping them in a decidedly limited space is that you must provide food for both animals throughout. Otherwise, digestive problems can develop within a short period of time.
However, complete separation is not possible.
The hamster will always have access to the rabbit’s food. The rabbit can also help itself to the hamster’s supplies.
This in turn causes stress to both animals. Because these are resources that they want to defend.
While hamsters are already happy with a running wheel and a varied setup, rabbits should be given daily free run.
A hamster can also achieve a great deal of exercise in a running wheel or through tubes due to its smaller size. With a rabbit, this is not possible in either a hutch or a cage.
The division on several levels is possible with both species, nevertheless a rabbit is more limited here by the dimensions.
Hamsters are smaller, more nimble, and thus can fit into gaps or niches that a rabbit cannot reach or use as an escape. Therefore, the protection must be very carefully thought out. This applies to both the cage and the run.
The effort for you is therefore greater. The dangers for your animals are higher. Because to do justice to both, you must proceed very differently. This cannot be implemented in a cage or when free running together.
The necessary equipment
Hamsters need a substrate in which they can burrow and build a nest.
Rabbits also burrow, but cannot do so in a normal cage. They only build a nest when they are expecting offspring or seem to be pregnant.
Hamsters can climb, rabbits usually do not.
It is therefore hardly possible to separate the sleeping areas and feeding games sensibly from each other and to adapt them to the respective animal species.
Due to the significant differences between the two species, keeping them together in a cage is neither sensible nor safe. Rabbits and hamsters do not benefit from proximity.
Therefore, two separate accommodations that are not too close to each other are better.
Two different rooms are ideal. This is because the noise caused by the different activity times can also be perceived as disturbing by the animals.
Therefore, decide on one species or set up the appropriate environment for each.
My name is Mark and the senior editor
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