Can Chickens Live With Guinea Pigs?
Both animals need companionship for their well-being, but can chickens and guinea pigs live together? No, they are not made to keep each other company. There are several health dangers to consider when mixing animal species, and guinea pigs and chickens are not the best match.
We’ll tell you why!
Why Can’t Guinea Pigs and chickens live together?
There are several health problems and practical issues to think about when trying to co-house chickens and guinea pigs. We strongly advise not to keep guinea pigs and chickens inside the same living space as you’ll be asking for trouble. There’s always an exception to prove the rule, and in rare cases, it might work but we suggest not to try.
There are no advantages to keeping both animals together as they are so different. Chickens and guinea pigs need different housing, different food, treatment, and care.
We’ll address the most common problems when guinea pigs live together with chickens.
- Transmitting diseases
- Housing problems
As we all know, chickens are better off in the company of other flock members; they don’t like to be alone. They don’t need other hens to make friends but for the security and well-being it provides them. All chickens inside the run form a family, where everyone has their place in the pecking order. A pecking order may sound cruel to us, but it makes each chicken’s task inside the flock very clear.
Because of their size and ‘being different’, guinea pigs are the lowest in the pecking order. When you have a mean flock on your hands, they’ll peck and harass the guinea pigs, even until death. When you want to try to place them together and notice bullying or stress, separate them immediately.
Next to the pecking order, guinea pigs can be mistaken as a tasty snack by your chickens. Especially when they’re hurt and there is blood involved. Things can get out of hand when owning a rooster whose essential task is to protect the flock. Roosters can be aggressive towards intruders, so placing any other pets near a flock with a rooster is a no-go.
Guinea pigs need to live in a clean environment to stay healthy. While a filthy cage won’t necessarily mean your guinea pig will immediately die from unsanitary conditions, this can lead to serious health problems. A frequent cause of death in guinea pigs is respiratory issues like pneumonia. This can be caused by living in harmful, unsanitary, or overcrowded conditions.
This brings us to an important issue when placing guinea pigs and chickens in the same coop. Both chickens and guinea pigs are animals that poop a lot. A dirty living environment filled with feces and dirt will cause respiratory issues in guinea pigs. It can also result in the growth of harmful bacteria and fungi. Chicken droppings are filled with harmful bacteria such as Salmonella and E. coli. These bacteria hardly affect your hens but are dangerous for guinea pigs. Salmonella can even cause death in guinea pigs.
Placing them together isn’t a good idea unless you’re willing to clean out the entire chicken run and coop daily and scoop up the chicken poop.
Chickens and guinea pigs are very different animals with different dietary needs. A common health issue in guinea pigs is scurvy, a vitamin C deficiency. Unlike chickens, Guinea pigs are unable to manufacture their own vitamin C and must take in vitamin C through their feed. So they need special feed to stay healthy.
Besides the vitamin C problem, most chicken pellet feed is not suitable for guinea pigs. Pellet feed is not recommended as it contains cereal, corn, grains, and seeds; ingredients that are harmful to guinea pigs. This particular diet makes it impossible not to separate the food of chickens and guinea pigs, which is not easy when living in the same environment.
Not only do chickens and guinea pigs need different feed or other care, but their preferred living area is also nothing alike. Guinea pigs are best kept in a secured and squeaky clean cage, with plenty of space to exercise, but safe from predators or other harmful pets. Chickens also need protection from predators, as they are prey animals, but they’re better off in a large run with access to dust baths, grass, and dirt.
When placing a guinea pig in the rough surroundings of a chicken run, they will be more likely to suffer health conditions and foot problems. A guinea pig’s bedding material must be dust-free, clean, soft, non-toxic, non-edible, and absorbent, so relatively high standards. For chickens, only the bedding inside the nesting boxes or inside the coop really matters. They’re more than happy with dirt or grass flooring in the run, as they spend their days scratching their feet in the sand looking for bugs and worms.
We’ve concluded that there are no advantages to keeping both chickens and guinea pigs in the same living area. In rare cases, it might work. But overall, the disadvantages outweigh the (occasional) advantages.
Chickens and guinea pigs are entirely different animals with different needs and cares. They need different housing and a different diet and can easily pass diseases to each other. Both chickens and guinea pigs can be mean to others, but as chickens rank higher in the pecking order, chances are, your guinea pigs will be bullied.