As many backyard pet owners experience, once the backyard livestock fun begins, it tends to keep going.
Many backyard chicken enthusiasts raise rabbits for pets, show, sale, or meat.
Although chickens typically live in a coop with a run and rabbits in their separate hutch and enclosure, the two can peacefully coexist under certain conditions.
Chickens won’t fight or kill rabbits if there is plenty of room and conditions are clean. Rabbits and chickens can coexist in the same living space under these conditions. Cohabitants must be introduced when young, and male rabbits must be neutered so they don’t bother other rabbits or chickens.
Rabbits need their own sleeping space if they are in a coop with chickens, well away from the chickens, so they do not get pooped on.
Chickens carry some diseases without symptoms that rabbits can catch.
Rabbits are also cleaner than chickens, so you’ll need to stay on top of cleaning.
Keep reading to find out more about chickens and rabbits living together!
Advantages of Chickens and Rabbits Living Together
The biggest advantage of housing chickens and rabbits in chicken coops is saving space.
These animals also get along and interact with each other in entertaining ways due to this living arrangement.
Our doe would dig a space in the dirt to cool off with, and the chickens would covet it as a dust bath.
The two species of animals coexisted quite well, as the rabbit had a warren under the chicken coop and could get away from the chickens for some privacy.
Having both together inspires you to keep the enclosure clean as the chicken poop gets everywhere, and you do not want your rabbits filthy.
Another advantage is you only have to clean one common space, not two.
Disadvantages of Cohabiting Rabbits and Chickens
Unless your rabbits can burrow or hide in a hutch, they shouldn’t have babies while living with chickens as the chickens may harm or eat the baby rabbits.
If they have a burrow or hutch handy, the babies won’t come out to explore until they are big enough not to attract the chickens’ appetite so much.
The hens may peck at the bunnies’ feet, especially if the hutch has a wire bottom.
The rooster may not appreciate sharing space with rabbits as they are fast-moving animals and may make him nervous.
As chickens are not clean animals, there is a risk of coccidiosis.
The rabbits will eat the chicken feed unless it is kept separately.
The chickens will also eat the rabbit food if they run out of food.
They also need clean water supplies which won’t get fouled by the other animals.
They may even eat each other’s poop, which will sometimes pass diseases.
Salmonella and coccidiosis are diseases from chicken feces; pasteurellosis, or snuffles, is a disease in rabbits easily passed on to domestic chickens.
You may end up with a male who may attempt to mate with the other species, so be prepared for some irritated animals or a female-only setup.
A rooster and a male rabbit may not tolerate each other.
If your rabbits burrow in the dirt floor of the chicken house, they may escape, and the chickens may get stuck in the burrow.
If you have a hard floor to prevent the rabbits from burrowing, it may be hard on the chicken’s feet.
The chickens may injure the rabbits’ more delicate skin.
What is the Ideal Setup for a Combination Coop?
The idea combo setup will have enough space for both animals, with some separation for each species.
You’ll need about 2-4′ square feet of interior floor space per chicken if your chickens have a sizable outside run.
If you do not have enough exterior run space, you’ll need at least 4-5′ square feet per chicken to maintain a healthy flock and have enough room for exercise for chickens.
The standard adult bird will need 8-10′ square feet of space outside of the coop for stretching out, dust bathing, and foraging.
Rabbits need a minimum of 12′ square feet.
Rabbits need adequate space to run around, hop, dig and eat.
When it comes to space for animals, bigger is better.
You’ll have to decide how much of these space requirements is shared space and how much will be separate.
The roof of the coop needs to be waterproof and sturdy.
Coops need good ventilation to allow the ammonia and moisture generated by the manure (which you will be cleaning out daily) to dissipate and allow fresh air to come in.
If you have a buried fence around the entire chicken yard, you won’t need to worry about rabbits being able to dig into the floor of the coop.
Otherwise, you’ll need a hard floor–not wire!–to keep them from escaping.
The coop needs to be protected from predators from the air, the land, and underground, all with safe materials for rabbits to be around or chew.
A wire chicken coop is not advisable; hardware cloth is sturdier and less likely to injure chickens and rabbits.
How Many Chickens and Rabbits Can Live Together?
Ideally, rabbits and chickens should be paired with at least one of their own kind, but certainly, a rabbit can live solo with many chickens in a communal coop.
A lone chicken will not be happy with a family of rabbits as they will not snuggle with it at night nor preen its feathers.
As long as you have the required feet per chicken and rabbit, it’s possible to have quite a few domestic rabbits living in a coop for chickens.
How to Introduce Your Chickens and Rabbits
Introduce your animals to each other from their own spaces, separated by a fence.
Or, let the chickens have the coop and the rabbits the run, then reverse the roles, so they get used to the other’s smell and presence and how the other moves around.
Ensuring there is a place for the rabbits to retreat to from the chickens is important.
Making sure each animal feels safe will smooth the introduction.
Be on the lookout for any aggression or other signs of not getting along.