Rabbits and chickens have a lot in common. They’re both predominately outdoor pets, and they’re both social, preferring company at all times. They both need hutches and runs to flourish. As a result, farmers and families consider housing them together to save on space.
Rabbits and chickens can share a hutch if they’re introduced while young. Ensure the rabbits have a private hutch for sleeping. You’ll also need to muck out the coop regularly as rabbits are cleaner than chickens. They’re unlikely to fight and can become firm friends in the right circumstances.
Precautions must be taken. The coop needs to be of substantial size, and you’ll also need to mindful of health concerns. Chickens carry diseases with no symptoms, which can make rabbits sick.
- 1 Is Keeping Chickens and Rabbits Together a Good Idea?
- 2 Size of a Rabbit and Chicken Coop Combo
- 3 What is a Rabbit and Chicken Coop Combo Made from?
- 4 Ideal Ratio of Rabbits and Chickens Living Together
- 5 How to Introduce Rabbits and Chickens
- 6 How Do I Know if My Rabbits and Chickens are Getting Along?
- 7 Do Rabbits and Chickens Share Diseases?
- 8 Can Chickens Give Rabbits Diseases?
- 9 Can Rabbits Give Chickens Diseases?
- 10 One of My Chickens or Rabbits Dies in the Coop
Is Keeping Chickens and Rabbits Together a Good Idea?
With the right care and attention, you can create a harmonious multi-species home. But you can’t put a pair of rabbits into a chicken coop and hope for the best. Chickens and rabbits are both delicate and fearful, animals. They need time to get to know each other, and have different needs.
With time and dedication, keeping chickens and rabbits together can work. All animals are capable of forging unlikely friendships.
Despite this, some ground rules must be observed. Chickens and rabbits will only tolerate each other’s company under certain circumstances:
- All the animals must be introduced while they’re young. As both species grow older, they’ll become set in their ways and increasingly intolerant.
- The rabbits must be spayed or neutered. Male rabbits, in particular, will mount anything in sight. This may be sexual in nature, or it could be an act of domination. Either way, neutering will calm them down.
- You’ll need to do a lot of cleaning. Rabbits are cleaner animals than chickens. They’ll grow distressed if they’re surrounded by filth. This is also a health hazard.
- You’ll need to allow plenty of space, and private areas for both species. They’ll grow overwhelmed if they feel they don’t have privacy.
- The rabbits must have their own sleeping quarters. You may want to include a hutch in the coop. Not only will they feel safer, but they’ll be cleaner. Chickens poop constantly.
- Both chickens and rabbits are sociable. You’ll need at least two of each animal. One chicken and one rabbit will make them stressed and lonely.
- If the relationship starts breaking down, separate the animals at once. You can’t force a friendship. If pushed too far, both of these species will become aggressive and irritable.
If you feel that you can meet these needs and criteria, read on. Creating a shared home for both species can be rewarding and save you plenty of space.
Advantages of Chickens and Rabbits Living Together
There is a range of benefits to keep chickens and rabbits in the same coop. These include:
- Space-saving. Perhaps the biggest boon of all is the room you’ll save. One large coop for all your animals is surely more space efficient than separate homes.
- Company. Rabbits and chickens both enjoy company. If you can’t keep your rabbit indoors, chickens will keep them amused. You’ll be surprised at how well these animals get along, if they’re introduced early enough.
- Security. Chickens and rabbits are both prey species. They’ll also attract the same predators. Keeping them together ensures that they’ll enjoy safety in numbers.
- Reduced Smell. Rabbits are clean, but their waste has a distinct, pungent aroma. Rabbits are less clean, so you’ll need to clean the coop regularly. The result? Your rabbit will live in more sanitary conditions.
- Temperatures. Rabbits and chickens are hardy, and both cope well with cool weather. This means they can both flourish in the winter. There’s no need to worry about one species needing more heat than another.
- Fun. Chickens and rabbits are both amusing to watch. Throw them together and watch them interact. You’ll enjoy twice as much entertainment.
As you’ll see, there are several reasons to keep these animals together. Of course, there are also disadvantages that must be taken into consideration.
Disadvantages of Chickens and Rabbits Living Together
If we’re to be realistic, chickens and rabbits were not meant to live together. If this were the case, they’d be found in the same wild locations. Just because you can make it work, it doesn’t necessarily mean you should. Things to think about before forcing these animals to share space include:
- Food. Rabbits and chickens have different nutritional needs. If they eat each other’s meals, they may become sick. You’d need to feed rabbits separately. This is important, as chickens eat – and horde – anything.
- Temperaments. Ultimately, rabbits and chickens are as different as apples and oranges. Chickens are afraid of fast-moving animals, for a start. This may result in pecking and fighting.
- Disease. Between them, rabbits and chickens can be prone to a range of zoonotic diseases. They could also share parasites. One unpleasant outbreak could wipe out your entire animal family.
- Cleanliness. This is both a pro and a con. As discussed, rabbits are much cleaner than chickens. This means you’ll need to muck out the coop daily. This reduces the risk of flies and parasites, but it’s a lot of work.
- Mating. Obviously, rabbits cannot mate with chickens. All the same, biology will not stop them from trying. A male rabbit may mount every chick in the coop. Neutering will help, but it may not stop the behavior altogether.
- Coop Materials. Rabbits have delicate skin, and they’re curious by nature. They may hurt themselves on a wire chicken coop. You’ll need to use materials that accommodate the needs of both species.
- Digging. Rabbits love to dig. It’s one of their favorite hobbies. This means that you may need hard floors to prevent escape. This will need to be managed carefully, or it may hurt the chicken’s feet.
As you’ll see, it’s not as simple as buying one large coop and forcing a happy family. Chickens and rabbits need unique and careful considerations, especially if they’re to live together.
The good news is, if you can make it work, everybody will be happy. It may just take time and effort to reach that point.
Size of a Rabbit and Chicken Coop Combo
The coop will need enough space for both species to have all their needs met. Also, rabbits and chickens will need to have separate zones. Even if they get along, they’ll need space from each other.
Start by thinking about the needs of your chickens. A coop must allow 3 square feet per chicken, and 10 square feet per chicken in a run.
Next, consider what your rabbits need. According to The Rabbit House, 12 square feet is advisable. The bunnies should also have a run of at least 31 square feet.
Naturally, this means that a shared living space needs to accommodate a rabbit. You may get away with a coop of 12 square feet, but go bigger wherever possible. If you can, aim for a minimum of 32 square feet to keep everybody happy.
Of course, this may not be possible to purchase from a pet store. Such stores tend to focus more on domesticated animals. Investigate farm suppliers, or if necessary, commission somebody to build your bespoke coop.
Yes, that’s expensive. It’s better than cramming rabbits and chickens into a space too small for their needs, though. Enough living space is critical to both species’ health and quality of life.
This is especially important for rabbits. Consider bunnies to be introverts. They need a private area to eliminate, sleep, and take time out. A separate hutch, which doubles as a bedroom, is ideal.
One note of caution, though – keep this hutch in an elevated position. Chickens constantly poop, and without much consideration. If they’re positioned above a rabbit, their droppings will land in the poor bunny’s bed. This is dangerous.
What is a Rabbit and Chicken Coop Combo Made from?
The materials used for a shared coop will also need to be taken into consideration.
- The roof must be robust and waterproof. This is for the good of both species. Never will do well if they’re wet.
- You must prevent the rabbits digging. They’ll fashion an escape route if you do. The floor can’t be made of wire though. This will hurt the feet of both species, especially the chicken.
- The coop must be secure, as both chickens are rabbits will attract predators. Don’t use a solid front cover, as this will prevent ventilation. Equally, though, don’t use wire that will hurt a curious rabbit.
If you’re commissioning the creation of a bespoke coop, follow the specs of a rabbit hutch. You can’t go wrong with solid wood, good foundations, and plenty of air.
Ideal Ratio of Rabbits and Chickens Living Together
Both chickens and rabbits like to live with their own kind. With that in mind, you should have at least two of each species in your coop. If you have space and time, try to keep more. The bigger the family, the happier they’ll be.
One rabbit can accept living with chickens alone. This is especially likely if they’re introduced to the coop as a baby. The chickens will take the rabbit in as one of their own. The rabbit will happier with a mate, though.
Never keep just one chicken with a family of rabbits. They’ll quickly become overwhelmed and stressed.
How to Introduce Rabbits and Chickens
If you want rabbits and chickens to live in harmony, they must meet while young. Wait until a male rabbit is old enough to be neutered, but then make the introductions.
Yes, we’re discussing spaying and neutering again. It is so important. Not only will it go some way to curbing amorous instincts, but it calms rabbits down. They’ll be far more relaxed once fixed.
Like all animals, though, you can’t just lock them together and tell them to get along. Start slowly, by introducing both species on different sides of a fence. Let them get a feel for each other from a distance.
After a few tentative meetings, allow the animals to run free together. They may ignore each other at first, but that’s fine. It means they do not feel threatened.
Next, let the chickens have the run of the coop and place the rabbits in the run. After a while, reverse these roles. Eventually, the two species will grow used to sharing a space.
One thing you’ll have to watch is the territoriality of the rabbits. Bunnies are famous for jealously guarding their space. Ensure they understand that the coop is a shared space. Providing a unique, rabbit-only retreat will help with this.
How Do I Know if My Rabbits and Chickens are Getting Along?
Oh, you’ll know. Rabbits and chickens are both far from shy about announcing their feelings. Fur and feathers will fly if the two species cannot peacefully co-exist.
Despite this, you’ll also need to keep a lookout for warning signs. Stress and anxiety can make animals sick. You’ll feel terrible if you don’t notice this until it’s too late. Warning signs to look out for include:
- Withdrawing from the group at large.
- Excessively grooming of barbering. This would involve the rabbit or chicken tugging out their own fur or feathers.
- Uncharacteristic aggression toward humans from a usually placid animal.
- Lethargy and depression.
- One species is chasing members of the other.
If you spot these behaviors in an individual rabbit or chicken, separate them for a while. This will not be a permanent solution. Neither chickens nor rabbits flourish living alone for long. A little break may be all they need, though.
If the problems persist after re-introducing the animal, it’s time for separate enclosures. This may be expensive, and time-consuming. It’s better than having to rehome one of your pets, though.
Do Rabbits Attack Chickens?
Rabbits are small animals with big hearts. This means that, if they feel threatened, they may attack a chicken. This can be dangerous. If a bunny’s blood is up, they can be surprisingly vicious.
Rabbits are also territorial. They may become antagonistic if they feel a chicken is encroaching on ‘their’ land. This is why it’s so important to introduce the animals young. The rabbit is more likely to accept sharing their space this way.
As Small Pet Select explains, warning signs that a rabbit is planning an attack include:
- Thumping of the back foot.
- Ears tucked back, and flat against the body.
- Standing on the hind legs and adopting a boxer’s stance.
- Growling and grunting.
If you spot these behaviors, remove the rabbit from the coop for a time out. Act quickly. The less a rabbit feels like their cues are being acknowledged, the angrier they’ll become.
You may also need to watch out for a rabbit chasing chickens too. This can be tricky, as rabbits sometimes chase through play. On other occasions, though, they’re planning to tear out the chicken’s feathers.
Let the rabbit chase once, and see what they do. If they pull away at the last moment, it’s just a game. Chickens can be nimble, and they may all being enjoying themselves. At the first sign of teeth, separate the animals.
Would a Rabbit Damage a Chicken’s Eggs?
In theory, a rabbit will be indifferent to a chicken’s eggs. Rabbits are herbivores, and do not have any reason to think eggs will taste good. This is a relief, as eating an egg would make a rabbit sick.
Despite this, remember that rabbits are also curious. They may wonder what this strange thing in their house is. This will inspire them to investigate. They’ll sniff, nudge, and maybe even break the eggshell.
Chickens are protective of their eggs, so a rabbit messing with them may lead to conflict. It’s not just the hen that laid the eggs, either. Chickens take turns in keeping the eggs warm. A rabbit may learn this the hard way.
Do Chickens Attack Rabbits?
Chickens are not crazy about animals that move quickly. This can be an issue at first, as rabbits love to run. It may result in some growing pains when the two species first share a space.
What’s likely to happen is a peck from the chicken to the passing rabbit. All being well, the rabbit won’t notice. It certainly shouldn’t hurt them. After a while, the chicken will stop this behavior.
Something to be aware of, though, is that chickens are not fussy eaters. They’ll devour anything they get their beaks on. This could include baby rabbits. Never breed bunnies in a communal coop. It’s not safe for the rabbit offspring.
Rabbits and chickens living together can share diseases. Usually, these are transmitted from the chicken to the rabbit. Chicken poop, in particular, is a constant risk for bunnies.
The other substantial concern is shared parasites. Flea infestations are not common in chickens, but they can occur. If they jump between the two species’, they can cause havoc.
Thankfully, ticks are less of a concern. These arachnids rarely attach to chickens. In fact, chickens actively eat them. This may provide a measure of protection for your rabbits.
All the same, these two animals can share disease. You’ll need to be aware of the risks before housing them together.
Can Chickens Give Rabbits Diseases?
Salmonella is a disease that many chickens live with, but display no symptoms. This means that the chickens could easily infect a rabbit without even realizing. Not all rabbits show symptoms of the disease, though.
Of perhaps greater concern is the risk of coccidiosis. This disease occurs when a parasite attaches itself to a chicken’s digestive tract. If shared, this disease can be fatal to both chickens and rabbits.
Can Rabbits Get Coccidiosis from Chickens?
In a nutshell, by eating their feces. The disease lives in the intestine of chickens. This means it’s also present in their waste.
As rabbits eat their own poop, they may tuck into a chicken’s too. What’s more likely is that the parasite will be present in hay, or shared water. The rabbit will then consume it unwittingly.
We have mentioned numerous times that chickens must not roost above a rabbit’s sleeping quarters. The risk of coccidiosis is the most compelling argument against this.
Preventing Coccidiosis in Rabbits
Clean, clean, and clean again. You need to step up the hygiene of your shared coop. Coccidiosis is found in chicken poop, so you need to keep your rabbit away from it.
If you keep rabbits alone, you’ll get away with cleaning their hutch once a week. If you keep chickens alone, a deep clean can be a sporadic experience. Keeping the animals together means you’ll need to clear their space regularly.
If the coccidiosis is caught early, the rabbit will likely make a full recovery. Medication and lifestyle changes will do the trick. If it’s advanced, though, organ failure is likely.
Can Rabbits Give Chickens Diseases?
Most rabbit illnesses will not impact chickens. The biggest health concern that a rabbit can pass to a chicken is pasteurellosis.
Pasteurellosis in rabbits is better known as snuffles. It’s a bacterial infection of the upper respiratory tract. Snuffles is contagious between rabbits. It can be life-threatening if the bunny has a weak immune system.
Pasteurellosis can be a severe concern for chickens, as it can lead to fowl cholera. As you can imagine, this is most unpleasant – and frequently fatal. Vaccination for chickens is available, and advisable if you wish to keep your animals together.
In the meantime, it’s best to separate any rabbit with snuffles from your chickens. Have a spare hutch handy, and let the rabbit recover before they rejoin the group. It’s the only way to prevent an epidemic.
Can Chickens Catch Myxomatosis?
There’s some good news – for chickens, at least. Myxomatosis, the famous rabbit-killing virus, will not impact them. This condition is unique to rabbits. It’s also rare in the United States. Thankfully few domestic rabbits are diagnosed.
That doesn’t mean that it’s nothing to worry about, though. If one rabbit in a coop develops myxomatosis, it will spread like wildfire. Expect all bunnies that live together to be impacted in short order.
The most likely way of a rabbit contracting myxomatosis is through flea bites. This is another reason to keep on top of parasites in your shared coop.
A bug carrying the disease may feed on a chicken, and cause no ill effects. As we mentioned, poultry are immune. If the same flea or tick then bites a rabbit, though, all bets are off. The virus will not die off, and will cause infection.
One of My Chickens or Rabbits Dies in the Coop
It’s a sad fact of life, but animals do not live as long as humans. Rabbits and chickens typically have a similar lifespan. Both these species, if well cared for, typically live as long as 8 years. Some live longer, if particularly robust.
Sadly, sudden death can impact either of these animals. They may die of fright, if they suspect a predator will gain access to their coop. They may pass away from a well-hidden illness. Eventually, old age will catch up with them.
If you spot a deceased animal in your coop, remove it immediately. The body will start to rot otherwise. This is hazardous to the health of the remaining chickens and rabbits.
There is no hard-and-fast rule as to how chickens deal with bereavement. Sometimes, they barely even notice. Be mindful, though, as some chickens slip into depression upon the loss of a friend.
If you have bonded rabbits in the coop, prepare yourself for a rough ride if one passes away. Bonded bunnies are inseparable. When one goes missing, the other will become stressed and withdrawn.
Rabbits and chickens can live together perfectly happily. In the right circumstances, they won’t just survive – they’ll thrive. Despite being wholly different animals, they’ll often find common ground.