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Guinea Pigs vs Rabbits: Which Make Better Pets?

So, you’re choosing between a guinea pig and a rabbit for your next family pet. Both are happy, docile creatures, but which will be the best for you?

In this article, we have made a complete comparison of rabbits and guinea pigs so you can choose the ideal pet for you and your family. Check it out.

Key Takeaway:

Guinea pigs and rabbits both build strong bonds with their owners. Guinea pigs live for 5 to 7 years and sleep for 4 to 6 hours a day in short periods throughout the day and night. Rabbits are nocturnal, live for about 8 years, and need a lot of space for exercise.

What’s the best small pet to have? What lives longer, a guinea pig or a rabbit?

To find out the answers to these questions and decide which pet will be best for you and your family, take a look at the comparison below.

rabbit vs guinea pig

Guinea Pigs vs Rabbits

So you’re trying to choose between rabbits and guinea pigs for your next family pet. Before we jump into the comparison, let’s get to know the candidates.

Guinea pigs are small rodents from the Caviidae family. They are docile, good-natured pets that are easy to look after.

Rabbits are from the Leporidae family. There are at least 305 breeds of domestic rabbits around the world.

But which will be the best pet for you? A rabbit or guinea pig?

To help you decide, coming up next, we’ll be comparing rabbits and guinea pigs in the following categories.

  • Life expectancy
  • Nature
  • Handling
  • Diet
  • Housing needs
  • Bedding
  • Exercise
  • Grooming
  • Training
  • Living with their kind
  • Living with other animals
  • Sleep time
  • Sleep schedule

Life Expectancy

There is a slight difference in the life expectancies of rabbits and guinea pigs.

Guinea pigs live for 5 to 7 years. But some can live for much longer.

Most domesticated rabbits tend to live for about 8 years. But their life expectancies will vary depending on the breed of the rabbits.

Pygmy rabbits live for only 3 to 5 years, whereas European rabbits live for 9 years.

If you want a pet to be a companion for a long time, choose a domesticated rabbit.

Nature

Both rabbits and guinea pigs are low-maintenance pets that make great companions.

Guinea pigs are docile, gentle creatures. They are social animals and are very friendly, and this is what makes them so popular among families with small children.

When guinea pigs feel frightened, they will make an audible squeaking noise. But they also squeak when they are happy or when you groom them.

When they are happy and excited, they hop in the air.

Rabbits are also excellent pets as they are docile and inquisitive.

A bunny’s body language will tell you when it feels threatened as it will stamp its foot. But they will also jump in the air when they feel excited.

If you are looking for a good-natured pet, either a guinea pig or a rabbit will be a perfect match for you.

Handling

Guinea pigs and rabbits behave distinctly when their owners handle them.

Guinea pigs are social animals and form strong bonds with their owners. But they tend to be flighty and may not tolerate being held for long periods.

Bunny rabbits are often shy, but their curiosity often gets the better of them and draws them toward their owners. Once they warm up to you, they will rub their chins on you and perhaps even lick you.

If you want a more social pet, choose a rabbit, as they are more tolerant of their owners handling them.

Diet

mid section boy feeding grass rabbit hand

Pet rabbits and guinea pigs have slightly different nutritional requirements.

A guinea pig’s diet must include the following:

  • Timothy hay
  • Grass
  • Commercial guinea pig pellets
  • Fresh fruits such as apples, bananas, and blueberries
  • Fresh vegetables such as cabbage, broccoli, and spinach

Guinea pigs cannot synthesize their own vitamin C, so they must eat foods rich in it. After eating enough hay and grass, you must give them fresh food so they can get the vitamins they need.

A rabbit’s diet must include the following:

  • Hay
  • Grass
  • Leafy greens
  • Commercial rabbit pellets
  • Fresh fruits such as apples, bananas, and berries
  • Fresh veggies (root vegetables like carrots and cauliflower are best)

Rabbits have a very specific diet and must eat a lot of grass and hay for their digestive systems to work properly. After eating sufficient grass and hay, give them a small treat of fresh food and commercial pellets.

Both rabbits and guinea pigs are easy to feed and must eat a mix of commercial pellets and fresh food.

Housing Needs

Rabbits and guinea pigs have slightly different housing space requirements.

Guinea pigs need to live in cages with solid bases (not wire bases which are harmful to their feet). According to the humane society, their cages must measure at least 7.5 square feet or 30 inches x 36 inches per guinea pig, but the bigger the cage the better.

Rabbits are bigger than guinea pigs and thus need an even large enclosure. For your new pet to be comfortable, he must have a cage that meets the following size requirements set by the humane society.

For a medium size rabbit, you will need a minimum space of 12 square feet for the cage.

Neither rabbits nor guinea pigs should stay in the cage all day. A guinea pig’s enclosure takes up slightly less space in the home and is a better choice if you have limited space.

Bedding

The bedding your guinea pigs and rabbits will need is very similar.

Line the base of a guinea pig’s cage with aspen shavings and paper shreddings.

Line the base of your rabbit’s cage with aspen shavings, paper shreddings, and hay. Change the hay regularly, as rabbits need to eat a lot of it.

It is easy to prepare the bedding for guinea pigs and rabbits.

Exercise

You must provide guinea pigs and bunnies with enough room to exercise as part of their daily care.

Asides from cage time, your pet guinea pig will need to spend at least one hour a day outside of the cage exploring and stretching his legs. To stay healthy, he will need time outside in a large area.

You must not keep rabbits cooped up in a cage all day. They need at least 4 hours to do their daily exercise and to roam freely outside of their enclosures.

The minimum exercise space for rabbits is 32 square feet, but provide them with even more space if you are able to. (Rabbits like to chew, so make your electrical cords rabbit-proof if you’re going to let your bunny indoors).

If you have limited space, choose a guinea pig, as they do not need as much time or space outside of their cages as rabbits do.

Grooming

Guinea pigs and rabbits have differing needs when it comes to being groomed.

Short-haired guinea pigs tend to need grooming about once a week. You must groom long-haired and curly long-haired guinea pig breeds more frequently and sometimes every day.

You will find soft guinea pig combs and brushes at good pet stores.

You will also need to groom your bunny rabbit to remove excess fur and prevent the animal from ingesting the fur. You must do this at least once every three days.

If you want an animal that is easy to maintain, choose a rabbit or a short-haired guinea pig, as they require less grooming.

Training

With a little patience, you will be able to teach both guinea pigs and rabbits simple tricks.

Guinea pigs may only be small pets, but they can still learn the following tricks.

  • Shake paws
  • Turn in a circle
  • Stand on his back legs
  • Litter train

Many rabbits will be able to learn the following tricks.

  • Come when it hears its name
  • Give kisses
  • Turn in a circle
  • Litter train

Although it is possible for a guinea pig to be litter trained, it takes a lot longer than it would for you to train a rabbit. If you want a small pet that is easier to train, choose a rabbit.

Living With Their Kind

Guinea pigs do not like to live alone and enjoy the company of other guinea pigs. When keeping two of the same species together, use the following as a pairing guide.

  • Two females
  • Two neutered males
  • One neutered male and one female
  • One neutered male and two females

In the wild, it is difficult to find a lone rabbit. Rabbits tend to live together.

When keeping two rabbits together, use the following pairing guide.

  • A neutered male and a neutered female
  • Two neutered female rabbits
  • Two neutered males

If you want two pets, choose a rabbit or a guinea pig, as they both like company.

Living With Other Animals

Now let’s talk about what happens when bunnies or guinea pigs live with other animals.

In their natural habitat, guinea pigs are prey animals to cats and dogs. So they might be afraid of these pet animals if they share a home with them.

But if you introduce cats and dogs to guinea pigs early in their life, these small animals might adapt and accept them.

Rabbits enjoy sharing their home environment with other humans, be they adults or children. They also like to be around other small pets like cats and well-trained dogs.

If you want a new pet that will get on well with your other animals, choose a rabbit.

Sleep Time

cute rabbit having a nap

Rabbits and guinea pigs have differing sleeping habits.

Guinea pigs sleep for about 4 to 6 hours a day but do not have a specific time set for sleeping.

Domesticated rabbits sleep for about 8.4 hours a day.

Because rabbits are prey animals in the wild, they sleep with their eyes open, as do guinea pigs.

Choose a guinea pig if you are looking for a pet that sleeps less.

Sleep Schedule

Rabbits and guinea pigs have big personalities, so they need time to rest.

Guinea pigs are very active animals, and between long periods of activity, they take short naps. They do not have a specific time to sleep and will do so throughout the day and night.

Rabbits are nocturnal, meaning they are most active at night. They seem crepuscular, but they are actually nocturnal.

If you are looking for the right pet to keep you entertained throughout the day, choose a guinea pig.

Guinea Pig and Rabbit Similarities and Differences

Are you still struggling to decide whether guinea pigs or rabbits will be the right pets for you?

Not to worry, as next is a summary of their similarities and differences to help you decide.

Similarities

These are the similarities between guinea pigs and bunnies.

  • They are docile and good-natured.
  • They need wire cages with solid bases.
  • They need aspen shavings and shredded paper to line their enclosures.
  • They eat mostly hay and grass.
  • They like the company of pets of the same species.

Differences

Here is a quick summary of the differences between guinea pigs and bunnies.

Factor Guinea pigsRabbits
Lifespan 5 to 7 years8 years
Handling Do not tolerate much handlingMore tolerant of handling
Cage size7.5 square feet12 square feet
Exercise time At least 1 hour a dayAt least 4 hours a day
Grooming Long-haired breeds need more Less
Training More difficultEasier
Other species AfraidLike company
Sleep time 4 to 6 hours a day 8.4 hours a day
Sleep schedule Nap throughout the day and nightSleep during the day
two guinea pigs in a small cage

Choosing Between a Guinea Pig and Pet Rabbits

So what’s the verdict? Do guinea pigs or rabbits make better pets?

Choose a guinea pig if you:

  • Do not have a lot of space for a cage
  • Do not have as much space for a small animal to run
  • Want a pet to keep you entertained throughout the day

Choose a rabbit if you:

  • Want a domesticated pet that will live for 8 years or more
  • Would like to handle the pet often
  • Want an animal you do not need to groom often
  • Need to train the pet fast
  • Have other pets that you need your new pet to get along with

Did you find the information in this article interesting?

At Oddly Cute Pets, we always strive to provide you with the best articles about small mammals like rabbits and guinea pigs. For more guides on how to care for the specific diet of your companion pet, check out our website.

Thanks for reading!

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