No, though it’s not unheard of, rats and rabbits should be kept apart. Unfortunately, not all species get along, and some are dangerous to keep together.
But why are rats and rabbits happier in separate living spaces, and how can you prevent them from coming in contact?
Keep reading to find out!
Why Rats and Rabbits Should Stay Apart
There are plenty of reasons why rats and rabbits make less than ideal roommates:
Rats will eat pretty much anything. So if you put a rat and a rabbit together, sooner or later, the rat will start eating the rabbit’s food (and vice versa).
Having someone else munching on its food is not a huge deal for a rabbit. They’ll eventually be served more food. But for a rat, all this extra food is unhealthy. Rats are omnivores and rabbits herbivores so their dietary requirements are different, meaning their food isn’t beneficial for other species.
Pet rats rarely get sick – things like regular vet visits and vaccination help keep your pet healthy.
But if you’re adopting a new rat, it may have some microorganisms that could be transmitted to your rabbit (Fleas are a common one).
Wild rats carry diseases that can cause illness in rabbits such as:
- Rat-bite fever. Rat-bite fever is a bacterial disease. Other animals get it when a rat bites or scratches them.
- Salmonellosis. Rats leave behind bacteria called salmonella when they’re foraging for food. This bacteria irritates the intestines, leading to what we know as food poisoning.
- Leptospirosis. Leptospirosis is a bacteria found in rat urine. Other animals and humans can become very sick if soil or water gets contaminated with this infected urine.
- Hantavirus. Humans and other animals may contract hantavirus if they come in contact with dried mouse urine or droppings. Dry droppings and urine turn into dust that we can breathe in. Hantavirus may cause respiratory failure.
- Lymphocytic choriomeningitis (LCMV). LCMV is a viral infection that attacks the brain and the spinal cord. It’s spread through exposure to rat urine, saliva, droppings, or nesting materials.
Rats Can Harm Rabbits
Rats can indeed harm rabbits. Despite their small size, rats have excellent weapons that are effective in a fight. Their sharp, powerful teeth and strong jaw are their best features – they’ve been known to chew through materials like concrete and metal.
Considering their strength, it’s no surprise that rats can significantly injure rabbits, who are docile animals by nature. Rats like to bite and scratch. If they’re in a fight, they use these tools to attack their opponent’s most vulnerable areas, like the throat or face.
A rabbit’s fur and skin provide little to no protection from a rat’s strong jaw, so these fights can be deadly. Aside from causing severe bodily harm, rat bites can also transmit diseases (which we’ll discuss below).
While rabbits won’t usually attack rats, they may injure them unintentionally. This fact is especially true if your rabbit is on the larger side.
First, the rabbit will likely intimidate the rat. There is also a chance that the rabbit could kick the rat. Considering the relative size and strength, a rabbit kick could be deadly. Your bunny could also step on the rat and cause it harm.
How to Keep Rats and Rabbits Separated
So, what should you do if you have pet rats and rabbits? How can you ensure that they coexist peacefully? Here’s how to keep rats and rabbits together yet separate:
One thing to remember is that a rabbit hutch is very attractive to rats. It’s full of irresistible things: rabbit pellets, rabbit droppings, and delicious leftovers. For this reason, cleanliness is absolutely essential if you want to prevent unwanted rat visits.
Best practices for rabbit hutch cleaning include everyday cleaning. You should remove any uneaten food, along with rabbit droppings and soiled bedding.
Occasionally, rabbits and rats get along well. If you want to try socializing your pets you can test the waters – if you supervise their playtime. The most critical thing is to prevent them from getting in a fight.
Having different playtimes for each species is critical if your rats and rabbits live and play in the same room. Let your rabbit play first and then the rat, or vice versa. The order doesn’t matter, but the other pet should be locked up or in another room while its roommate is playing.
Once it’s the other pet’s turn, make sure the first one is safely put away before letting the second one out. It’s important to make sure that the rat’s cage isn’t knocked over, and that the rabbit’s cage is secure.
If your space permits it, it’s best to keep your pets in separate rooms at night. Both species are highly intelligent and curious. This combination means that both rats and rabbits have been known to find clever ways to escape from their cages.
If your pets will be living in the same room, it’s vital to improve the rat cage’s protection. Rats are excellent escape artists, able to squeeze through tiny holes and cracks. You’ll have to make some effort to ensure they stay safely in their cage when needed.
The rat’s cage should always be locked, and you should make sure that there isn’t enough space on the grill of the cage for them to slip out. Keeping your rat safely in its cage should prevent any serious issues from arising, especially when you’re not around to supervise.
Another good idea is to ensure that your rabbit enclosure is completely rodent-proof in case your rat does somehow manage to escape. The rabbit getting out is less of an issue, as the worst thing they’ll do is knock over the rat cage. However, you can elevate the height of their pen to deter them from escaping.
You can either buy an enclosure that’s specifically made to keep rodents out, or you can strengthen the security on an existing cage by putting 0.5-inch chicken wire over mesh walls. Sometimes rats can slip through the mesh, so this is an excellent security measure.
But even with this measure, be sure to check your rabbit cage periodically for signs of damage. If you notice any gnawing on the outside, it’s probably your rat trying to get in. In this case, it’s time to look for any holes and reinforce the security of the cage.
Can Rabbits and Rats Cohabitate?
No, rabbits and rats shouldn’t cohabitate. As in the wild, these two species should be kept separate. Rats need a safe place to build their nest, and both species need their own cages so they can rest and sleep. Additionally, rabbits and rats are pretty defensive when it comes to their young.
Do Rats Eat Rabbits?
No, rats don’t eat rabbits. Rats are omnivores – they prefer a diet of plants and lean meats. They’ll eat small animals, but adult rabbits do not form a regular part of their diet.
Can Rats Kill Rabbits?
In the wild, rats may attack rabbits, though this is uncommon. If they do, they usually only attack small ones, as large rabbits are too big to be considered a potential food source. However, it’s rare for rats to attack and kill unless there is some kind of provocation.
One factor that may lead a rat to kill a rabbit is if it’s desperate for food. Rats are attracted to rabbit food. They’ll often sneak into rabbit enclosures and try to make off with some leftovers. Most of the time, rabbits don’t mind the intrusion. But some are territorial, so they might try to force the rat out, which could end in a fight.
This scenario is less likely to occur with domesticated animals, especially when each has its own food source. But you should keep it in mind, especially if you have an outdoor rabbit hutch that wild rats may try to access.
Do Rabbits Eat Rats?
No, rabbits don’t eat rats. Rabbits are vegetarians, so they will never attempt to eat rats (or any other animal). This counts for both tame and wild rabbits.
Can Rabbits Kill Rats?
Because rabbits are vegetarians, it’s uncommon for them to kill rats. Still, there have been instances of rabbits killing rats, but usually for very specific motives. The most common reason would be if a rabbit feels that its territory is threatened. Similarly, if a rabbit fears for the safety of its kits, it might display an aggressive response against the rat.
Do Rats Eat Baby Rabbits (kits)?
Rats are opportunistic creatures. Given the chance, it’s not uncommon for rats to sneak into a rabbit hutch and take a rabbit kit. Tiny kits are easy for the rat to grab and take somewhere safe. Once the rat removes the kit, it will kill and eat the defenseless baby.
Again, this problem is less likely to happen with domesticated animals. But it’s still important to note, especially if you keep your rabbits outdoors. Keep in mind that if a wild rat discovers this easy food source, it will stick around. For this reason, getting rid of wild rats can be an absolute nightmare.
What Do Rats Eat?
Rats will eat just about anything. They’re natural foragers, so they eat basically whatever they can find. Some of their favorites include fruit (their preference), vegetables, garbage, scraps, seeds, rabbit feed (yes, they love rabbit food!).
What Do Rabbits Eat?
Rabbits (as herbivores) require a different diet to rats. In the wild, they eat whatever is available and in season.
Domesticated rabbits need to have a diet that mimics that of wild rabbits. Some of their preferences include hay (timothy and oat), fresh vegetables, fresh fruits (as treats), and pellets.
Whether tame or wild, all rabbits need drinking water to stay hydrated.
Do Rabbits Deter Rats?
No, rabbits do not deter rats at all, either in the wild or as pets. If a rat sees a larger rabbit, it may hesitate before attacking. However, it will not be so scared of the rabbit that it leaves.
So if you’re looking for a pet to keep rats away, your gentle pet rabbit is not going to be much help. A cat is a much better idea, but you might have to resort to other methods if you have a serious rat problem.