Why Rabbits and Ferrets Shouldn’t Live Together

Written by Katelynn Sobus
Published: December 9, 2023
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Rabbits and ferrets seem so similar that you might wonder if you can keep them together! But, did you know that they often shouldn’t even share the same household? It can be very dangerous for your rabbit.

Keeping rabbits and ferrets in the same household can mean constant stress on your rabbits, as the smell of ferrets alerts them to predators in the area. Rabbits and ferrets should be kept as far apart as possible, and often shouldn’t live in the same home. They should never interact.

In this article, we’ll discuss more about rabbits and ferrets, whether they can ever be kept together, and whether they can live with other pets.

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Will Ferrets and Rabbits Get Along?

Cat, dog, rabbit, and ferret on a white background

Rabbits and ferrets should never interact because ferrets are predator animals and rabbits are prey.

©iStock.com/adogslifephoto

Ferrets have an instinct to hunt rabbits and have even been bred and kept by humans for this purpose. Therefore, these pets are very unlikely to get along.

While it’s cute to see unlikely animal companions, the truth is that predator/prey relationships put animals at great risk. They also tend to be stressful for the prey animals, and bunnies are easily stressed. They’ve even been known to die from it!

Some ferrets do have lower prey drives than others, and you might think yours would never hurt a fly! However, they’re still not compatible with rabbits–and plenty of people have thought this same thing, only to be sorry when they’ve found their pet rabbit injured or dead.

Another thing to think about is diet, since ferrets eat very differently to rabbits. While rabbits are herbivores that need constant access to fresh hay and daily vegetables, ferrets are obligate carnivores! You don’t want them getting into each other’s food and damaging their health.

What if They Never Interact?

Ferrets have a strong odor that prey animals like bunnies recognize as the smell of a predator. This means that in most households, rabbits will be constantly stressed by ferrets–even if they’re kept in another room and never interact.

Keeping them as far apart as possible may work, and is better done in large or multi-story homes. Keep in mind that rabbits have stronger noses than people, so you not being able to smell the ferret from the bunnies’ room doesn’t mean they can’t.

In general, it’s likely a better idea to only keep one of these pets. If you’re interested in adopting both, consider adopting them at different times in your life or even fostering them individually for shorter periods!

What Animals Can be Housed with Rabbits?

Two little rabbits sitting in the basket in summer

As social animals, rabbits need to live with other rabbits.

©Rita_Kochmarjova/Shutterstock.com

Rabbits need to live with at least one other rabbit to meet their social needs. They shouldn’t be housed with any other pets.

If you have cats or dogs, your rabbit should be kept in another room–ideally, one they can free roam, as rabbits don’t belong in cages!

Like ferrets, cats and dogs are predator animals who can severely injure a rabbit, even by accident or through play.

Unlike ferrets, they aren’t as smelly, and most rabbits are okay living separately from them but in the same household. Some rabbits are stressed by barking if your dog is particularly vocal.

Guinea pigs are another popular choice for companionship and it used to be common to house them with rabbits. However, this is now considered outdated and dangerous. Rabbits and guinea pigs don’t communicate in the same ways, and rabbits are much stronger! One kick can injure a guinea pig badly.

In addition, rabbits can be carriers of Bordetella, which often causes much more serious illness for guinea pigs. Even without being sick, your rabbit can pass this illness on to your guinea pigs!

What Animals Can be Housed with Ferrets?

Ferret litter pan

Ferrets should live with other ferrets, not other pets.

©iStock.com/Harald Schmidt

Like with rabbits, the best companion for a ferret is another ferret. Cats and dogs may see them as prey, play too roughly, or accidentally injure them. Other animals their size or smaller are typically seen as prey by the ferret.

Like with rabbits, ferrets can live with cats or dogs so long as they live in a room the cats and dogs cannot enter. They shouldn’t be allowed to interact, especially without supervision.

Lastly, some birds with high-pitched voices can stress ferrets, making them incompatible to keep as pets at the same time. Birds and ferrets should never interact, as your ferret may be hurt by a large bird or see smaller birds as prey.

Overall, it’s better to keep predator and prey species apart from one another. Even if you think your rabbit and ferret get along, you’re likely missing stress signals from your rabbit, and your ferret could hurt them at any time–even if they haven’t yet!

Keep these social animals with their own species to give them the best lives possible.

The photo featured at the top of this post is © iStock.com/adogslifephoto


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About the Author

Katelynn Sobus is a writer at A-Z Animals where her primary focus is on pets including dogs, cats, and exotics. She has been writing about pet care for over five years. Katelynn currently lives in Michigan with her seven senior rescue cats.

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