If you already have a pet in your home, then you may be wondering if they will make a good companion for a tortoise, in this case, a rabbit. Now at first glance, it may seem fine to house a rabbit with a tortoise. However, there are things we need to consider. That cute bundle of fur may be a completely different beast around a tortoise or over animals that invade their space.
It is not recommended to allow a tortoise and rabbit to live together. Rabbits have entirely different dietary needs than a tortoise, which can cause a tortoise many health problems. Despite tortoises being fine with other animals, a rabbit can be much more gauded and become territorial.
That may sound like your plans for a friendship between a new rabbit, and your tortoise is on hold. While that may be the case, we can do things so we can make the arrangement work. I take a look at some steps we will need to take to make it a success and where the problems may lie.
Can Tortoises And Rabbits Live Together?
On the surface, it might seem like tortoises and rabbits could be natural roommates. They both like hay and lettuce, they both live in huts, they can both live outside, and they both like grass and soil.
However, there are some issues you need to consider before prematurely combining your tortoise enclosure with your rabbit hutch.
Theoretically, it can be done, but you really need to be careful, and if given a choice, it would be best to simply keep your rabbit and tortoise separated for both of their own good.
Let us take a look at the difference that makes this paring one to be avoided.
Different Dietary Needs
While it may seem like rabbits and tortoises eat similar things at first glance, they actually have very different needs. Rabbits are mammals, rodents to be exact, and that is an extremely different set of physiological parameters than tortoises have. Tortoises are reptiles that are very different from rodents.
Rabbit food is high in protein, something that mammals need a lot of, especially store-bought rabbit pellets. However, protein in large quantities is not good for tortoises. Too much protein can cause a tortoise to have health issues.
It might not seem like a big deal, but when your tortoise goes and chows down on the rabbit pellets, they could be harming themselves unintentionally.
Rabbits Don’t Like Sharing
Rabbits are skittish animals, but they are also protective of their food. Rabbits are rodents and have similar backgrounds to mice, rats, and squirrels.
These behaviors will cause a rabbit to guard their food and can also keep them in a state of constant stress. Since rodents are easily stressed out, a tortoise always lurking around a rabbit’s food can cause behavioral and physical issues that can arise in your rabbit.
Tortoises are generally unbothered by other animals, but their presence can definitely be a source of strife with your rabbit.
Rodents do not like being in the presence of other animals for the most part, and a tortoise might look like a cute friend to you but might be a constant source of angst for your pet.
Rabbits are Chewers
Another potential roadblock to rabbits and tortoises living happily ever after is that rabbits like to chew. In fact, rabbits have to chew continuously to keep their teeth at a manageable level.
Rabbit’s teeth continually grow throughout their lives, so they have to chew to keep their teeth from too long. This can put a strain on a rabbit tortoise relationship.
Rabbits will chew up a tortoise’s hide, it can make noise that disturbs the tortoise when they are burrowing or sleeping, and it can lead to the rabbit chewing up things meant for the tortoise.
For example, tortoises need shallow soaking pools that are sometimes made from plastic. A shallow plastic pool is a perfect target for a chewing rabbit.
If your tortoises’ pool gets chewed open, it can spill its precious soaking water all over the habitat.
While tortoises don’t chew other than their food, a rabbit’s constant need to bite and chew can cause long term problems for a pair sharing the same habitat.
The last one we will leave up to your imagination we know rabbits like to chew; they have a slow-moving tortoise companion with a hard shell living with them. I will leave that one to your imagination.
Cross Contamination Issues
Like any situation that combines a variety of different animal species, a rabbit tortoise friendship has the chance to cause cross-contamination issues.
Rabbits and tortoises are carriers for various diseases, including viruses, bacteria, and parasites.
Having a rabbit and tortoise share an enclosure, including food, water, and soil, can lead to one or both of them catching a foreign disease that can sicken them or even kill them if the infection is severe enough.
Sometimes this kind of contamination can be harmless or mostly harmless, but in other cases, it can lead to animals that are frequently sick or have to battle a new source of health problems that live in or on their housemate. This can be easily avoided by not mixing the two species in a single enclosure.
Interaction Tips & Advice
If you have read all of this and are still bent on having a combined tortoise and rabbit enclosure, there are a few things you can do to ensure that the transition goes smoothly.
First, introduce your two potential roommates to each other in a shared environment. Make sure that neither pet is overly aggressive, overly stressed, or behaving strangely.
Next, you can try and house them together for short supervised periods. See how they interact around food and water, how they like to hide, and how they size one another up.
If you are going to keep these two animals together, it is imperative that you keep the rabbit food away from the tortoise. Similarly, make sure that the rabbit is not getting supplements meant for the tortoise.
If the rabbit tries to chew on the electric heating light or is disturbing the tortoise hide, you might not be able to house them together at all. In this situation, it is best not to rush anything if this truly is your end goal.
It would be advisable to keep a close eye on the situation for several months, even if all seemed to go well.
While rabbits and tortoises are both cute animals, they might not make the best housemates. On the surface, it seems like a pairing that should work without any issues, but if you dig a little deeper potential dangers arise.
Honestly, the best thing to do is just to keep them separated. Even if they are nearby one another, the best thing for both animals would be to live in separate enclosures.
Rabbits and tortoises are perfectly capable of living alone, and they do not need one another as a company. Infrequent interactions may be fine but housing them permanently offers too many problems to make it worth the hassle. Not forgetting the health issues that may arise from having them both as roommates.
If you genuinely want to house them together, make sure you take the appropriate steps to ensure that the transition goes smoothly and you are aware of any health and behavior issues that may arise from your decision to house them together.