Can Rabbits Live With Goats?

When you’re planning out a farm or just trying to figure out if you have room for new pets, species matters. We all know that having cats and dogs can lead to some problems without socialization, but when it comes to other animals, things get tricky. This is especially true with goats.

Can rabbits live with goats? Though goats aren’t natural predators of rabbits, they can still pose a mild threat to your rabbits’ well-being. The two can coexist to a point, but giving them adequate space is vital to keeping all your animals alive.

Choosing to “free-range” rabbits outside with other animals will always be a dicey issue. Hopefully, this article will give you a clearer understanding of how to do it correctly and why it still may not be the best choice. 

Can Rabbits Live With Goats?

Rabbits are very skittish creatures that often shy away from larger animals. They’re also fairly delicate creatures in terms of their immune systems and biological needs. As a result, pairing them with most other farm animals is a risk — goats included. 

If you do choose to house goats and rabbits on the same property, it’s best to keep the two separated. If you cannot do that, make an effort to house rabbits indoors. 

Do Goats Hate Rabbits?

Though these two animals really don’t ever “jive” well together, the truth is that goats don’t hate rabbits. It’s not like placing rabbits in a goat pen would encourage goats to hunt them and eat them; they’re both herbivores. 

Goats might not hate rabbits, but that doesn’t mean that they are a safe animal. There are two major risks that goats pose to rabbits: playtime and diseases. Both can be potentially lethal for rabbits.

The Immediate Danger: Playtime

Goats, particularly when they’re younger kids, are fairly playful. They are lively creatures that are prone to doing all of the following when they get excitable:

  • Running. Goats love to run around with one another, often ignoring what is on the ground when they do. 
  • Climbing. They are known for loving a perch on top of ladders or slides.
  • Jumping. This is a major risk factor for rabbits since goats are notoriously reckless when it comes to jumping around. Many goat breeds, especially large ones, don’t look where they jump if it’s on flat land. 
  • Kicking. You might have seen a viral video or two involving goats kicking around balls while looking cute. It’s not so cute when the “balls” are your bunnies.

How Likely Are Goats To Hurt Rabbits While Free Range?

When goats hurt rabbits, they don’t mean to do it. They just get too excited and become reckless in their movements. Despite the lack of intention to harm, hearing about goats crushing rabbits to death is still fairly common.

There have been many cases where rabbits died after being placed in a cage with excitable kids. Not all goats will behave this way, but enough of them do to make this reason enough to avoid co-habiting them. 

The Prolonged Danger: Microbes And Parasites

Worrying about goats crushing rabbits is a fairly obvious concern for people who’ve watched them. A less obvious concern that is equally (if not more) dangerous to rabbits and goats alike deals with microbes and cross-contamination.

There are dozens of parasites and microbes that can infect both rabbits and goats. These pathogens include:

  • Johne’s Disease. This is a highly transmissible, highly infectious disease that can affect the stomach lining of most ruminant animals. If left untreated, it can be lethal to both rabbits and goats. 
  • Q Disease. This zoonotic disease can cause spontaneous abortions in goats and sheep  and is transmissible to rabbits as well.
  •  Viral Hemorrhagic Disease. This extremely dangerous virus will cause sudden death in rabbits as well as a litany of terrifying symptoms. Though it doesn’t affect goats, being around them can still spread the disease through contact.
  • Rabies. Rabies is lethal to rabbits, goats, and humans. 

If you do choose to have both goats and rabbits, keeping the two animals separate can drastically (but not entirely) cut down on the chances of transmitting diseases between the two species.

Why Separating Your Animals Prevents Infection

Most pathogens that can cross species are transmitted by either fecal matter or body fluids. When you have both goats and rabbits in the same pen, the amount of feces and fluids that both your animals are exposed to is huge.

Keeping them separate means that, should an outbreak occur, your outbreak would be confined to only one of your species. This can prevent you from losing both goats and rabbits to terrible diseases.

How To Keep Rabbits And Goats On The Same Farm

Though rabbits and goats can live together on the same property, it’s clear that keeping them in the same pen is a very bad idea. It’s too risky and will very likely harm your bunnies. So, how do you keep them together happily? Here are some tips to help you out. 

  • Keep your rabbits in a cage or pen separate from your goats. The easiest way to cut down on “jump deaths” is to keep rabbits locked up in a pen where goats won’t be able to enter.
  • Ideally, keep your pets on opposite sides of your farm. This isn’t always doable, but it can be a good way to help minimize the transmission of pathogens between the two species. 
  • If you decide to put your rabbits and goats together for a small amount of time, keep them under careful supervision. You shouldn’t really do this, but some owners still maintain that it “should be okay.” If you choose to put your rabbits and goats together, make a point of keeping an eye on them.
  • Make a slow introduction between the two species. Did you know that rabbits can literally die of fright? It’s true, and some goat breeds can be very loud–to the point that it startles them to death. If you choose to intermingle the two breeds, it’s a good idea to do a gradual introduction. 
  • Never introduce sick goats to rabbits or vice versa. This is common sense, but should still be noted regardless. If you have any reason to believe one of your animals is sick, it should be quarantined. 

The most important thing to remember when you’re trying to put any two animals in the same area together is to use common sense. If you think it’s risky, it usually is. 

Is It Worth The Hassle?

If you read this article and thought that having rabbits and goats under the same roof is a hassle, you’re not alone. Truth be told, having different types of animals of any species will require extra work that many pet owners simply won’t want to deal with. 

Both goats and rabbits offer a lot of love, fun, and benefits to people who own them. They are not natural-born enemies, so it’s not like it is an automatic “NO!” That being said, keeping the two under the same roof isn’t going to be easy. 

When you’re housing both animals, it’s important to realize how much extra work you’ll have. There will be more cleanup, more attention to be paid, and more day-to-day chores. But, for the right person, it could be worth it. However, only you can tell if that’s true for you.

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