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You’re not the only one wondering if rabbits can swim, and the answer to this is that yes, rabbits can swim. It is a natural survival instinct for both pet rabbits and wild rabbits. However, just because rabbits can swim, it does not necessarily mean that they should.
There are dangers to having rabbits accidentally fall into the water. Rabbits are land animals and they will stay close to land as much as possible. They only swim when the worst-case scenario happens. A rabbit will swim rather than risk getting caught by a predator
In this article, I will be tackling more questions about rabbits and their relationship with water.
Can Rabbits Swim?
Rabbits can swim but most only do so to escape predators. This means that you’re going to see wild rabbits choose to swim way more often than your going to see a pet bunny go for a swim. And while rabbits can swim, they’re not great swimmers and would much rather run.
Now to be clear, there are some rabbits that have evolved to not only be good swimmers but to actually enjoy swimming. Swamp Rabbits are a wild rabbit that lives in the Gulf Coast region of the United States, and not only can they swim, but they can dive underwater to escape predators….well, until an alligator comes along.
Since domestic rabbits have wild bunnies as ancestors, your pet rabbit also retained this capacity to swim. However, having the capability to swim does not mean that the rabbits should be swimming all the time.
Wild rabbits are always in danger of predators thus, they always need to be ready to swim, since they could have no choice. This is not true for domestic rabbits.
You probably saw some videos on youtube of rabbits swimming but really, they’re just floating in the water. While it is still highly dependent on a rabbit’s personality if they enjoy swimming, getting their fur wet comes with a host of disadvantages a pet owner should be aware of.
Do Rabbits Like To Swim?
Rabbits generally do not like to swim. Swimming is the last course of action for rabbits. Rabbits are made for running and hopping on land. However, if the only way of escape is through water, then rabbits are athletic enough to make a swim for it.
This is essentially the same for domestic rabbits and most wild rabbits. Thus, if you are a person who loves the water and would like to have a pet that enjoys the same hobbies that you do then getting a rabbit might not be the perfect fit.
Aside from staying hydrated, domestic rabbits have very little need to be anywhere near large bodies of water. For one, rabbits do not need to be bathed. Bunnies are great groomers and you will always be seeing them grooming themselves and their bunny partners.
Even when your pet bunny is dirty it is always advisable that you only do spot cleaning. This means that you only put that part of your bunny’s body in water that is dirty instead of wetting their entire body. Also, if you need to bathe them the water inside a basin should not go past their tummies.
Here is a link to information about giving your rabbit a bath safely.
Is It Safe For Rabbits To Swim?
Some disadvantages come with having rabbits swim. The most obvious disadvantage would be that they would get wet. Rabbits have dense and thick fur that can absorb lots of water. Therefore, they can suffer from hypothermia. Wet fur is also an environment for fungi and bacteria to grow.
If your rabbit is one of the quirky ones and who likes water then make sure that they do not swim for a long time. Also, ensure that their fur is completely dry. Do not leave your rabbit outside when they have gone swimming.
Also, do not leave your rabbit near deep water (more than a few inches) unattended. Rabbits who are not used to water will panic if they fall in the water and drowning is very likely if you are not there to help them.
How Long Should I Let My Rabbit Swim?
To be clear, we recommend that you don’t let your rabbit swim or put your rabbit in pools or tubs.
If your pet rabbit loves to swim and enters the water independently, do not let them stay in the water for more than five minutes because it could get too tired or chilled and suffer hyperthermia.
If your pet rabbit accidentally falls into a tub/pool make sure to scoop them up quickly.
After getting your rabbit out of the water you should then make sure that they are thoroughly dry. You can start by using a clean dry towel and then use the cool setting of your hair dryer to finish drying them.
Be careful to not injure your bunny in the drying process. The towel should be absorbent and soft enough not to irritate their sensitive skin.
Also, rabbits who have been dried should be kept indoors for at least 24 hours. This is to protect them from getting too cold and suffering from hypothermia. Make sure to give them blankets of hay in their sleeping pads to keep them sufficiently warm.
Are There Advantages To Letting My Rabbits Swim?
You are probably going to be surprised to learn that sometimes a rabbit veterinarian will recommend that your pet bunny takes up swimming.
Hydrotherapy can be a good exercise for very elderly rabbits. Paddling in water can help ease the strain in their joints and reduce inflammation. However, these sessions should be supervised by professionally trained individuals and should be done in a controlled environment.
Here is a BBC Video about a rabbit getting hydrotherapy. Check out that life vest!
Can My Rabbits Swim In The Pool?
It is not safe for your rabbit to swim in a treated swimming pool. Pool water is treated with a chemical called Chlorine. This can be very harmful to your rabbit’s sensitive skin. Chlorine water can also get into their ears and eyes causing discomfort and potential panic attacks.
Normal faucet water used to fill a kiddie pool (like this one on Amazon) doesn’t have chemicals like pools and does not have salt like seawater but even then, you should be mindful of how your rabbits respond to it. If it stresses your rabbit out, then letting them swim in bathtubs or basins should not be encouraged.
There are a lot of fun activities one can do with their pet bunny. Unfortunately, swimming isn’t one of them. Do not follow random TikTok videos of owners putting their rabbits in pools. Rabbits are not predisposed to love water. Always remember to bunny proof your home and your backyard to avoid any unnecessary accidents.
Do your rabbits also hate water? Or is your rabbit an exception to the rule? Write about it in the comment box below!