Rabbits aren’t the type of animals you regularly see frequenting the water but that doesn’t mean that they can’t swim. In fact, our furry little friends are more than capable of swimming. There are some species of wild rabbit that often take to the water including marsh rabbits.
However, across the board, this isn’t common and rabbits don’t typically tend to swim unless they absolutely have to. Generally speaking, rabbits and water do not mix.
In this article, we will be discussing the problems associated with allowing a rabbit to swim and the health issues it could potentially cause. Even if your bunny pal appears to like spending time in the water, it’s not something that you should let them do.
Table of contents
You might meet the odd rabbit that enjoys a dip in the pool or splashing about in puddles but this isn’t common. Most domestic rabbits prefer to keep their paws firmly on dry land. Whether this is just the way it is or some kind of natural instinct to protect themselves remains to be seen, but we suspect it is the latter.
You see, rabbits that end up being submerged in water are susceptible to a whole host of problems. These are mainly due to the fact that rabbits take a ridiculously long time to dry out and that they aren’t as easily able to regulate their temperature as other animals.
Rabbits have very thick fur and this is one of the things that helps them thrive in an outdoor setting. When winter sets in, you’ll have no worries about keeping a rabbit outdoors (as long as it doesn’t sip below freezing.) Their dense, soft fur helps to keep them warm but this can also be a problem in hot weather when your rabbit may struggle to keep its temperature down.
When it comes to swimming, this thick fur is a serious problem. When it gets wet, it takes a very long time to dry. Imagine being in cold, wet clothes for 24 hours and you’ll get a good idea of how your wet rabbit might feel.
You may have seen videos online of bunnies taking a swim in a pool. This is definitely more of a gimmick to get views than it is about the rabbit enjoying itself. As we mentioned earlier on, there may be some individual rabbits that enjoy swimming but on the whole, these creatures don’t like it.
If a rabbit is put into water, especially unexpectedly, the chance of it becoming very stressed and shocked is extremely high. Rabbits are naturally very cautious creatures and any exposure to stress can be damaging to their health.
While not common, it is not impossible for a rabbit to experience such high levels of stress or shock that the heart can fail. Rabbits can have a heart attack and the results are usually fatal. It’s not worth risking your pet’s life for the sake of a cute Instagram video.
In other cases, especially if a rabbit is repeatedly exposed to stressful situations, problems associated with the liver can occur due to the rabbit stopping eating.
Rabbits are not water-loving animals. However, in the wild, you may see a rabbit swimming from time to time. This is not because they want to stretch their legs or get a bit of leisure time in but usually because they are trying to get away from danger.
You see, rabbits are prey animals and they’re regularly chased by a whole host of creatures that want to turn them into lunch. But being fast and with heightened hearing and smell senses, bunnies are often able to escape their predators.
But if they truly want to get away, they have to do this by any means possible and if that includes going through a body of water; so be it.
That said, this is usually more common with species of rabbits that live near water. The marsh rabbit being a great example of this. Although, in any case, if a rabbit can avoid going through the water then it almost certainly will.
Going back to the domestic rabbit, let’s now consider whether they are actually able to swim. If you were to throw Flopsy into the pool, the first thing that’s going to happen is she is going to panic. As we discussed earlier, this kind of stress is not good for a bun and should always be avoided.
While a domestic rabbit may have the ability to swim, being in this frenzied state will often lead to them losing all control. They will likely thrash around in a desperate attempt to get out of the water and with this loss of control, it becomes all too easy for them to drown.
As well as the associated dangers of drowning, stress, and not being able to dry out, you must consider that putting a rabbit into a swimming pool comes with a risk of exposure to chemicals.
Humans put chemicals in swimming pools to reduce bacteria, algae, and other nasties that we don’t want to swim around in. Even for us, these chemicals can cause irritation so imagine that on a much more intense scale.
One of the things that rabbit owners must be aware of is that bunnies have very delicate skin. It can easily tear and is susceptible to all kinds of irritation. Pool chemicals will do nothing but make life miserable for your pet.
Moreover, there is an associated risk with respiratory problems due to the strong fumes that these pool chemicals give off. Not only is this dangerous and unpleasant for your rabbit but you’ll be left to foot the vet bill and we all know how expensive that can be! Is it worth letting your rabbit share your pool time? No, we don’t think it is.
Many pet owners mistakenly believe that allowing their rabbit to swim is good exercise. Yes, it would be a good workout if the rabbit enjoyed it but it still wouldn’t be safe. But as most of you will be aware, staying active is imperative in taking care of a rabbit so what is the best exercise for your bun?
Rabbits love to run and hop and this is a vital part of their day to day exercise. It’s essential that a rabbit has at least four hours outside of its cage every day to stretch his legs. More if possible. That said, if you have a large enough enclosure, you don’t have to let the rabbit have free run of the house as long as that enclosure provides him or her with enough space to hop and explore.
Some people become tempted to put their rabbit on a leash and walk it around the park like you would with a dog. But this is not a good idea. For starters, rabbits do not like being confined to a leash and this could stress them out.
Moreover, the rabbit likely won’t walk in the sense you would expect. If anything were to startle the bunny, there is also a risk of it trying to speed away and with something around its neck like a collar or leash, it doesn’t take us to tell you that the consequences could be dire.
Rabbits do not like to be in water. While they are physically able to swim, they typically only do this in situations where they feel threatened. For example, when trying to escape a predator. At all other times, you will find rabbits with their feet firmly on dry land.
While some people have taken to the internet with photos and videos of aquatis rabbits, this is, by all intents and purposes, cruel and unnecessary. With thick fur, rabbits take much longer to dry and could potentially face death after being submerged in water. Furthermore, the very stress of the activity could take its toll on your pet. It simply isn’t worth it.
You may also be interested in reading about how high rabbits can jump.