Your Chicken Questions Answered by a Veterinarian. Honest and Practical Advice

Can You Keep Rabbits With Chickens

Homesteading is becoming increasingly popular, although space is often a limiting factor. Many people opt for chickens or rabbits, which require comparably less space. Chickens produce eggs and meat, and rabbits can provide meat and pelts. But can you keep rabbits with chickens?

Although keeping these animals together may save you time, space and money, the simple answer is rabbits and chickens are not designed to live together. The differences in nutrition, care, and disease make keeping these animals enclosed with one another a significant risk to both species. 

So what happens if you try to put rabbits with chickens?

A Guide To Keeping Chickens With Rabbits

Before we dive into the details of keeping chickens and rabbits, let’s first answer the question, “can you keep chickens with rabbits?”

can you keep rabbits and chickens together?

If you have enough room, keeping rabbits and chickens in separate areas on the same property is possible, especially when raising them for eggs or meat.

Keeping chickens and rabbits together in the same area has a few more limitations and issues. Although it is possible to keep them together, it is generally not advisable for a few reasons.

The most significant issues with keeping chickens and rabbits in the same cage are competition over resources (food, water, and most importantly, space) and diseases.

Diseases Spread Between Chickens And Rabbits

Coccidia affects chickens and rabbits, and transmission is usually through fecal matter. Chickens often eat rabbit feces and contract coccidia during the process. The pathogenic microorganisms living in the feces often move into the soil once the feces come into contact with the enclosure’s floor.

Once in the ground, these pathogenic microorganisms are free to infect and reinfect the residents.

A coccidia infection leads to coccidiosis, an infection of the gastrointestinal tract. Various organisms cause coccidiosis.

The effects of coccidiosis in chickens include:

  • Abnormal functioning of the intestinal tract
  • Nutrients are not optimally absorbed
  • Reduced egg-laying capacity

In rabbits, hepatic coccidiosis often leads to watery diarrhea, decreased growth rates, weight loss, and death.

Aside from coccidia, other diseases include:

  • Pasteurella multocida – a rabbit-born disease. Pasteurella multocida causes “snuffles” and other respiratory issues in rabbits. In chickens, this disease leads to fowl cholera, which is usually fatal.
  • Salmonella – poultry is a significant carrier of salmonella. These microbes live in the intestinal tract and spread to other organisms through feces. Although Salmonellosis is uncommon in rabbits, those who contract it usually develop diarrhea and septicemia (often fatal).
  • Streptococcosis – This bacterial infection affects various organisms. Symptoms include acute respiratory distress syndrome, convulsions, and fever.

Many of these diseases are cross-species transmitting, and outbreaks could result in wide-scale death of chickens and rabbits.

can you keep rabbits with chickens

can you house chickens and rabbits together? Chickens And Rabbits Have Different Needs

Aside from disease, the required feeding, and care for chickens and rabbits differ, making keeping them together challenging.

Food and feeding are principal issues. Rabbits shouldn’t eat chicken food, and chickens shouldn’t eat rabbit food. Chickens and rabbits have different digestive systems. Rabbits are hind-gut fermenters, while chickens have a proventriculus and gizzard.

Chickens and rabbits process food differently, and food is manufactured to meet their specific needs.

When rabbits or chickens get into each other’s food, they do not receive the correct nutrients, negatively impacting their breeding capacity and overall health.

Aside from feeding, rabbits like burrows while chickens sleep on perches. If you plan on keeping them together, you’ll need a large enough enclosure with various tiers and hiding spots to accommodate all needs.

The implications it causes 

Keeping these animals together will result in a long list of problems you won’t want to be dealing with, here are some of the most obvious and common ones:

Hens and rabbits may cause harm to one another, the high levels of stress in the flock due to the rabbits would cause the hens to be on edge, this would result in a decrease in egg production and an increase in bullying.

The mix up and contamination of both food sources could also lead to health implications for both animals.

The animals would be unhappy, this isn’t guaranteed but keeping birds and rabbits in one enclosure could cause uncertainty within the flock leading to a worsened living environment for both hens and rabbits.

Even though if both animals could get used to living together, if not introduced at the same time from a young age, there’s a high chance of rejection between species

can you put chickens and rabbits together? Important Questions Before Keeping Chickens With Rabbits

Before you begin constructing cages, consider the following important questions as to whether you can keep chickens in a rabbit hutch or vice versa.

What Is The Intended Purpose Of The Rabbits And Chickens?

Are they pets? Are you breeding to supply a market? Or are you raising meat for personal consumption? Your answer will determine how feasible keeping rabbits with chickens is.

How Big Is The Hutch/Enclosure They Live In?

Space is a critical factor. If you’re keeping rabbits and chickens together as pets, they’ll need sufficient space in their enclosure to get away from one another (when they need space).

You’ll need to feed them separately to prevent spreading diseases and separate sleeping/housing facilities.

When Would You Keep Chickens With Rabbits?

While it is feasible to keep a small number (e.g., two of each) of rabbits and chickens together as pets. if you plan on raising meat animals, then keeping chickens and rabbits in the same cage is not recommended.

can you keep bunnies and chickens together

How Do You Keep Chickens And Rabbits Together?

If you’re dead set on having your rabbit and chicken pets stay together, there are a few precautions to take to avoid any problems, such as:

A Large Enough Coop/Run With Sufficient Housing

Chickens and rabbits will co-exist, provided they have enough space to move away from one another when needed.

Rabbits require enough space to move around, stretch their legs, and explore. The bigger, the better, but try and aim for at least 8 by 8 feet.

Ensure rabbits have burrows (store-bought or homemade) to retreat into, while chickens have perches to climb on (especially for sleeping).

Keeping animals in an area too small for them will cause them stress. Stress leads to disease, competition, aggression, and death (in the long term).

While the chickens acclimatize to the fast-moving rabbits, sufficient space will help them relax. A good idea is to create a shared run area but a separate hutch and coop adjoining the run. That way, chickens and rabbits can interact leisurely and retreat into their creature-specific area.

This separation helps limit the spread of diseases.

A Slow, Controlled Introduction

Have you ever heard the saying “fools run in”? Patiently and tactfully wins the race when introducing two different animal species to one another. Start by keeping a partition/fence between them, so they become habituated without risk of injuries.

Once they’ve relaxed through the barrier, introduce them together in a large enclosure, so they have sufficient space to hide and avoid each other. Over time you’ll reduce the enclosure size until you can move the chickens and rabbits into their intended hutch/cage.

If the rabbits and chickens are young, they will adapt to their new habitat much faster and with less difficulty. Older animals that are introduced carefully can also acclimate.

When introducing rabbits and chickens, there will be the occasional peck (chickens don’t appreciate quick scampering creatures), but the behavior will decrease over time. Although this peck won’t affect an adult rabbit, don’t put babies of one with adults of the other.

Meeting Each Of Their Needs Simultaneously

Although rabbits and chickens share some requirements (i.e., being outdoors, having access to water, and adequate space), there are also differences you’ll need to take into account.

If you build separate housing (as would be wise), you can feed rabbits and chickens separately, reducing the risk of disease and the effects of eating each other’s food.

Rabbits require a clean cage, which means you’ll need to muck out chicken poop frequently to satisfy the rabbits. The benefit of this daily (or every second day) cleaning is that you reduce the risk of disease.

Monitor Their Health And Wellbeing

As much as you might like to keep your rabbits and chickens together, sometimes, it’s just not meant to be. In which case, you’ll need to separate them or consider re-homing either the chickens or rabbits if you don’t have enough space.

You’ll know it’s time to separate your chickens and rabbits when they start showing aggression, weight loss, and nervousness around one another, or there is a general decline in health (if sickness develops, you’ll need to separate them quickly).

can you keep rabbits with chickens

Tips On Keeping Rabbits and Chickens Together 

If you are determined about keeping hens and rabbits together then here are some ways that can minimize some of the possible complications:

  • Make sure they are introduced to one another from a young age, this will increase the chances of acceptance within the flock
  • If possible provide them with a partition. This means they can stay in the same run but not have to come into contact with one another.
  • Have a slightly less number of both animals and give them a separate coop and run
  • Let the animals spend some time together in the garden for a few hours, this would help them get used to one another’s presence and hopefully accept sharing the garden.
  • Having separate sleeping quarters is advisable, this will ensure both species feel safe and secure during the night.
  • Accommodating for both species is possible if you were to create and adapt a coop, this would require 2 separations in both the run area and sleeping quarters, with the animals being this close together it still doesn’t completely eliminate the risk of illness however it does decrease it.

The Pros And Cons Of Keeping Chickens With Rabbits

Sometimes the best way to decide if you’ll keep rabbits and chickens together is by looking at the drawbacks and benefits and making an informed decision with the facts in front of you.

The Advantages Of Keeping Chickens With Rabbits

Some advantages of keeping chickens and rabbits in the same cage/run include:

  • You’ll save costs on building/purchasing two dedicated cages.
  • If your yard is only large enough to accommodate one large cage, you don’t need to choose between chickens or rabbits.
  • Cleaning one enclosure well is easier than cleaning multiple enclosures.
  • You can have one fixed water point in the run.
  • By keeping them together, you only need to worry about predator-proofing one cage/enclosure.
  • Rabbit and chicken manure make great compost, so keeping them together means you collect them in one place.

The Disadvantages Of Keeping Chickens With Rabbits

Some of the disadvantages of keeping chickens and rabbits include:

  • Diseases are a major concern, with infections spreading both ways. Often chickens are asymptomatic.
  • Keeping chickens and rabbits together might cause distress if the enclosure is too small.
  • Adult chickens will eat baby rabbits, and adult rabbits might injure baby chickens.


Although keeping rabbits and chickens together is possible, it’s not always the best decision. If you’re raising meat animals for food, it’s in their best interest to be kept separate from one another. However, if you’re looking to keep these animals as pets, there are ways to ensure they remain healthy and happy while living together.

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