Guinea pig owners often do a lot to make sure that their piggies are safe. They think of everything but new owners often overlook the possibility that a pet rat (or even a wild one) could kill their guinea pig.
Simple truth: Rats can attack and kill guinea pigs. Some guinea pigs kept outside have been killed by wild rats that got into their hutches. There’s even been cases of domestic ones attacking and killing adult guinea pigs as well as baby guinea pigs. It’s important your cavies be protected from them.
Rats can attack and even kill guinea pigs in a number of different circumstances, whether it be because the rats are going for their food supply or if they’re end up in close proximity to them at night.
What Makes Rats So Dangerous To Guinea Pigs (And To You?)
Wild rats are among the most destructive creatures on earth – they can carry disease, they chew and bite almost anything in sight, and they’re very, very smart when it comes to getting food.
(I remember watching this documentary – based off of New York City rats- about how it’s next to impossible to get rid of rats permanently in some cases. Totally freaked me out!)
There are ways to keep your home rat-free, but it does take some effort and foresight on your part (more on this later).
Let’s look at the main reasons why they’re the world’s “most unwelcome” house guests.
- Rats are known for spreading diseases to other species of animals (and humans, for that matter). One of the most common types of diseases caught from them is the Weil’s disease, which is transferred via rat urine or droppings. They carry a common rat disease called leptospirosis, an infection that attacks the liver and kidneys and they can spread deadly diseases like plague and typhus.
- They’ll eat any type of food (and I do mean ANY – from regular food to dropping) and sometimes even chew through wood to get at bug infested dry goods and pet foods. They’ll use any source of water such as sinks, drains in the kitchen, drippy pipes…or your cavies’ water bowl.
- These rodents super smart and can be very clever about entering your home or your fur babies’ home. They are able to squeeze into tight spaces (like holes as small as 22mm) and can chew through a wide variety of surfaces to make entrance points. Plus, they love climbing!
- They’re extremely territorial and don’t mind fighting to protect what is “theirs”. A rat will “break into” your piggie enclosure looking for food, see the piggie and say, “Ok, this is mine now. Get outta here!”
Let’s be honest. Your fur babies don’t stand a chance against a wild rat. Guinea pigs are skittish, timid creatures and they’re not equipped to fight for their home or territory. Rats are strong enough to get into their cage and carry them off – or kill them.
So what can you do about it?
If you’re worried about rats killing your pet guinea pig, now might be the time to take action.
How Can You Protect Your Guinea Pigs From Rats
This is serious business. Wild rodents in particular will have no problem killing your guinea pigs, and it’s a good idea to know what you can do about this.
Rats usually enter your home (or your guinea pig’s enclosure) looking for three things. Those three thing are [in order of priority]: food, water and shelter (warmth).
Once they find them, you pretty much have the perfect rodent storm. They’ll pretty much take over the location and make themselves at home (yep, even if it’s your guinea pig enclosure).
As the old saying goes, “it’s not a question if they’ll come – but when”.
To keep the rats out you need to make your home (and your guinea pig’s enclosure) less inviting to them. Let’s look at how you can rat-proof both of them:
- Never leave holes or cracks big enough for a rat (or any other animal) to squeeze through. This is probably the most important part – blocking their access to your fur babies. Because you don’t want a wild rat just making its way into your guinea pig’s home. Rats can squeeze through holes as small as 22mm (uh-huh, that’s tiny). Use steel wool or a sealant (non toxic).
- Trash your pet’s leftovers. Remove any little food that your fur babies might have dropped or left behind – especially their pellets and veggies (they aren’t interested in hay). Use small amounts of food throughout the day, that they can easily eat – so very little is left for a rat to eat. Picking up after your guinea pigs is a must!
- Don’t use chicken wire for your fur babies’ hutch. Chicken wire is too weak. A rat will look at it and say, “Hey, this looks like my kind of party,” and just chomp right through it. Instead use stainless steel, welded mesh (which is much stronger).
- Keep the enclosure clean and tidy. Spot clean daily and deep clean weekly. Make sure the bedding is always dry and unsoiled. Since rats are nocturnal you might want to do a quick “cavie clean” just before you turn in at night to keep them away from your piggies. Bonus? Clean enclosures = happy piggies.
- Clean up all clutter. Piles of clutter make great rodent hideouts.So materials like tarps, toys, mulch piles should be removed or stored away. You don’t want the them to have a place to nest out of sight (and smell).
Now, if a rat has already gotten into your home, you’ll wan to
Your guinea pigs are at risk of being killed by rats if you don’t take the right precautions. There are three things that rats usually look for and they need to be removed or covered up in order to keep them out. The first is food, the second is water, and third is a place for them to live.
What If Rats Have Actually Gotten Into Your Home?
Yikes! Well, is this is the case, you’re going to want to use the same tactics discussed above to get rid of your unwelcome guests (and as quickly as possible).
You’ll just apply the to your entire house instead.
- Look for ways the rat could’ve gotten inside (like cracks in the wall or holes in your door) and block the holes with mesh or sealant.
- Do a deep clean of your entire home, including kitchens and where food is stored. Cover trash cans and remove clutter so that you’re not providing a nesting spot for rats.
- Hide the food. Keep food in the fridge, freezer, or in plastic or glass containers. Rats can chew through cardboard, but they can’t chew through glass or plastic.
- If you’ve never handled this type of rodent before, it’s also smart to call a professional exterminator or pest control expert who can set up traps and bait in the right areas. They’ll know how to handle the situation fast.
Natural rat repellents like peppermint oil sprays won’t do much to deter a stubborn rat. So, if you think the rat has already gained entry into your home, I’d call an expert. That’s what I did and they caught it (to my everlasting relief).
Can Pet Rats And Guinea Pigs Live Together?
There’s no reason why these two pet rodents can’t both live in the same household – as long as you take some basic precautions to protect your cavies.
There have been cases of domestic rats attacking guinea pigs. But, that usually only happened when the guinea pig somehow ended up in the rat’s territory or vice versa.
So, it’s important that you do a few things:
- Keep them separated in your home – in different rooms. Never, ever let them share a cage.
- Never ever let them interact. Guinea pigs and rats (even domesticated ones) don’t speak the same language. Any sort of misunderstanding could end badly for your guinea pig.
What Would Kill A Guinea Pig?
Given that wild rats have caused the deaths of hamsters, guinea pigs and other small pets, it is only natural to be afraid of these creatures.
But, they’re not the only creatures that have been known to kill guinea pigs.
Animals like dogs, foxes, cats, snakes, hawks, and eagles have been known to attack and kill them in certain circumstances.
At the end of the day, it’s important for you to understand that guinea pigs are prey animals, and they often don’t stand a chance against predators.
You have to be prepared for these situations.
That means you need to take steps in order to prevent them from happening like never leaving your guinea pigs alone outside unsupervised, predator-proofing their cages, etc.
Thinking about adding a piggie to your family or want to brush up on the essentials? Gotcha covered. What you need is a reliable, “all-in-one” resource to refer to when you’re struggling. A Beginner’s Ultimate Guide To Guinea Pig Care is a starting point with all the basics and more to get you on your way!
I hope this blog post has helped you understand why it’s important to protect your pet guinea pigs from the threat of rats (both wild and pet rodents)
There are a few easy ways to do that, including making sure their hutches are predator-proof, removing spoiled food, keeping their enclosures as clean as possible, and avoiding as much clutter in your yard and home as you can.
If you can afford it, an exterminator is always recommended because they have many more effective methods up their sleeves than you probably do.
Remember – wild rats can kill guinea pigs! And domestic rats haven’t lost their territorial instincts, and can attack your piggies under the right (or tragic) circumstances.
So, your fur babies aren’t safe with either of them.
Do you have a guinea pig – rat interaction story to share? Let me know in the comments below.