Can Chinchillas And Rabbits Live Together?

Chinchillas and rabbits are both great pets and it’s natural to wonder if they can live together. For those of us who love animals, the thought of our favorite creatures cohabitating is beyond adorable.

Disney films have shown us cartoons for decades featuring unlikely animal pairings, and with chinchillas and rabbits exhibiting some of the same characteristics, it’s easy to entertain the idea of them peacefully rooming together. As someone who has been the caretaker of both chinchillas and rabbits, I felt like it was important to share my experiences to shed some light on this interesting topic. 

Chinchillas and rabbits should not be roommates, although potential does exist for friendship. Even though both are cute creatures who share some similar traits, they have a few stark differences which cannot be ignored. 

Summary of today’s article:


Why Can’t Chinchillas And Rabbits Be Roommates?

There are several important reasons why chinchillas and rabbits living together would be a bad idea.

Reason #1. Housing Requirements

Although chinchillas and rabbits both live in cages, their housing requirements are not the same. Rabbits can live outdoors, while chinchillas must be kept inside an air-conditioned dwelling due to their sensitivity to heat.

Although rabbits have been known to climb in the wild, they don’t generally use climbing as a primary form of exercise. Rabbits tend to prefer relatively short cages with several compartments and enough surface area to spread out while resting.

Chinchillas are masterful climbers who are addicted to scaling tall structures. Chinchillas will quickly become cramped in any enclosure lacking height and they require a space with multiple shelves and outcroppings. 

Reason #2. Personality Traits

Chinchillas and rabbits also have personality differences. Chinchillas tend to be more high strung and may annoy rabbits with their spastic tendencies. Even though chinchillas and rabbits are both considered to be social animals, many do not even like living with their own kind in captivity and may ignore another animal completely.

The main cause for concern with chinchillas and rabbits living together is the potential for violence. If a disagreement were to occur, a physical altercation may ensue.

Rabbits are larger than chinchillas and can easily overpower them. Additionally, rabbits defend themselves with dangerous kicks as well as using their teeth and nails during quarrels.

This scenario could prove deadly for a chinchilla who would be at a great disadvantage during a fight.

Reason #3. Grooming Methods

Chinchillas and rabbits are both very clean animals, however, their bathing requirements differ quite a bit. Rabbits can groom themselves much like cats and will only need a traditional bath in the case of an emergency.

Chinchillas, on the other hand, must have regular dust baths to stay clean. Chinchilla dust is typically made from natural volcanic mountain pumice or silver sand. The chinchilla will roll around in the dust for about 10-15 minutes, which removes excess oils and moisture from their fur and skin.

Unfortunately, the residual dust on the chinchilla’s fur can agitate a rabbit’s respiratory system, leading to breathing issues and possible illness. It should also be noted that rabbit droppings contain bacteria that can be harmful to chinchillas.

Reason #4. Diet

Another difference between chinchillas and rabbits is diet. Although both animals eat an abundance of hay, this is where the similarities end.

Chinchillas have very sensitive digestive systems and can only consume pellets designed just for them. If a rabbit were to eat chinchilla pellets, the protein content would be too low for them to receive adequate nutrition.

Rabbits should eat a variety of fruits and vegetables, however, chinchillas are much more limited in this respect due to their digestive requirements. Finally, rabbits require a larger quantity of food than chinchillas, and if given the opportunity, chinchillas will overeat!

Trying to separate food can be problematic with two animals sharing the same cage. Housing chinchillas and rabbits together would be a nightmare for feeding as everything besides hay would have to be provided separately.

Even with food provided split-up, there is a possibility that either animal would become territorial over their particular meal. The last thing you want is a fight, and with the high likelihood of this occurring in a shared space, it is not recommended for chinchillas and rabbits to live together.


What Traits Do Chinchillas And Rabbits Have In Common?

Since we have spent some time talking about the differences between chinchillas and rabbits, let’s cover a few of the traits that they share. 

Trait #1. Physical Appearance

Chinchillas and rabbits both have big ears that are used as part of their body language. Both animals tend to relax their ears when they want to be petted on the head and put their ears back when they are angry or annoyed.

Physical Appearance

Chinchillas and rabbits are known for their luxurious coats, which thanks to selective breeding, both domestic species flaunt a wide variety of colors. The hind legs of chinchillas and rabbits are very long and powerful, which is why both species are so adept at running and jumping. 

Trait #2. Status In The Wild

Chinchillas and rabbits are both prey animals, meaning that in the wild, they are at risk of being eaten by predators. This status is important to understand as it influences their personalities and how they tend to relate to others.

Prey animals are always on alert and caretakers must work to build trust when interacting with them. Both species may appear skittish at first, however, once they have been convinced that there is no threat, will generally become friendly and affectionate.

Chinchillas and rabbits are wonderful pets, and when given the appropriate care, can easily become cherished members of the household.


How Can Chinchillas And Rabbits Become Friends?

The good news is that chinchillas and rabbits can be friends! There are no guarantees with this, but some people have owned chinchillas and rabbits who formed strong relationships.

Due to the dangers involved with altercations, introducing them to each other should be a very strategic process. Begin by housing the animals’ individual cages in the same room and within view of one another.

Both pets will feel comfortable in their own space and will be able to observe each other safely. Once you feel like the animals are aware of each other and their curiosity seems to be piqued, you may allow them to become physically close under supervision.

It is recommended to create a chinchilla/rabbit proofed space when you introduce them to each other. A good method is to sit on the floor with the rabbit held on your lap.

Allow the chinchilla to explore the rabbit a bit and see how they both react. If this is done multiple times with good results, then you can let the rabbit down and give them the freedom to play.

Never leave a chinchilla and rabbit alone together and be ready to intervene should a problem arise. There have been many reports of chinchillas and rabbits bonding, and although both species have their quirks, it is possible for them to form a good relationship.


Are Chinchillas And Rabbits Able To Breed?

Chinchillas and rabbits are not able to produce offspring. Although these two species share similarities on the surface, they have vastly different genetics which would make breeding impossible.

Chinchillas and rabbits are very distantly related and come from two completely different taxonomic orders. Chinchillas are rodents who are closely related to porcupines and guinea pigs.

Rabbits are considered to be lagomorphs, their closest relatives being pikas and hares. A lot of people assume that chinchillas and rabbits can breed since they appear to look alike in some respects.

Upon further inspection, it is clear that any attempt to procreate would be unsuccessful.


What Is A Chinchilla Rabbit?

Contrary to popular belief, chinchilla rabbits are not the result of a chinchilla and rabbit union. Chinchilla rabbits are rabbits who have been specifically bred to have a coat similar to a chinchilla’s.

standard chinchilla rabbit

Chinchilla rabbits have been around since 1913 and were first bred in Saint-Maur, France. The purpose of breeding them was to supply pelts for the fur trade and soon they were being bred in other parts of the world.

The three different types of chinchilla rabbits are the Standard Chinchilla Rabbit, American Chinchilla Rabbit, and Giant Chinchilla Rabbit. Chinchilla rabbits are often considered “lap rabbits” because of their large size and friendly temperament.

Over the years, all three varieties of chinchilla rabbits have become beloved pets due to their beautiful coat and agreeable demeanor. 


Good Fences Make Good Neighbors

Although it may be disappointing to learn that chinchillas and rabbits can’t be housed together, there’s no reason to give up on being a caretaker for both species. Chinchillas and rabbits are both fantastic animals in their own right which is why they are such popular pets.

By recognizing the different requirements between the species, you can ensure that both animals are happy and have the space they need to thrive.

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