Rabbits are cute fluffballs of love. Well bonded rabbits are affectionate and when trained well can even respond to commands and do tricks.
Some curious pet owners love to see their pets doing a myriad of different things.
It is even better if their pets enjoy the activities that they also love, such as swimming. So there is always that nagging question, can rabbits swim?
The answer is yes, rabbits can swim but only as a last resort. Rabbits are not fond of water and although they can swim they would rather just sit on the grassy part of your backyard and watch you splash in the water rather than join in the fun.
In this article, I will be tackling all the different questions about rabbit swimming including their apparent dislike of the activity and if some bodies of water should be off-limits to them.
- 1 Can Rabbits Swim, Actually?
- 2 Do Rabbits Like to Swim?
- 3 Is it Safe for Rabbits to Swim?
- 4 How Long Can Rabbits Swim and Do They Drown?
- 5 How Do I Know if My Rabbit Likes Water?
- 6 Are There Any Advantages to Letting My Rabbits Swim?
- 7 Can I Let My Rabbit Swim in the Pool?
- 8 Is it Safe for My Rabbit to Go Swimming in the Ocean?
- 9 Conclusion
Can Rabbits Swim, Actually?
Rabbits can swim. They have a wild cousin called the Swamp Rabbits that have evolved to swim. However, unlike their wild cousins, domestic rabbits will only swim if threatened.
This is also true with other wild rabbits except for the Swamp Rabbits. Swimming is the last resort that a rabbit will take when surrounded by predators.
If there are no other ways of escape then, by all means, the rabbits will swim for it.
Do Rabbits Like to Swim?
The short answer is no, rabbits don’t like swimming.
In this regard, they are very much like felines. Cats can swim but 99.9% of the cat population on earth really dislike the water.
But still, you might ask, why then do rabbits have webbed feet? Webbed feet in rabbits are made so they can hop to their heart’s delight.
Rabbits, however, can already swim once they reach 8 to 15 days after birth. Amazing right? That’s pretty young for a rabbit but then this is also one of the things that make bunnies so interesting.
Also, it is good to remember that rabbits are individuals. A quick YouTube search will probably show you a rabbit that is happily floating in a pool.
While that rabbit is definitely an exception, a rabbit’s likes or dislikes are also very much dependent upon their personalities. If you find that you own a rabbit that loves to swim, then great! but still take measures to take care of their fur and supervise their swimming times.
If you find that your rabbit hates water, then that should be fine too, there are still many activities that a pet owner can do to bond with their bunnies.
Is it Safe for Rabbits to Swim?
Swimming is not a safe activity for your pet rabbit.
Just as bathing rabbits, they shouldn’t be fully submerged in water. Spot cleaning is the best and recommended way for bathing rabbits.
Also, rabbit fur is very dense and therefore making it very hard to dry them. Imagine dunking yourself in a pool with all your clothes on. This is not necessarily the best of experiences right?
Clothes can get very heavy and if you’re wearing jeans then that makes it worst. This is the same with rabbits, getting their fur wet will bog them down and since they tend to have very dense fur it will be very hard for them and you to dry it.
This will then prove to be very dangerous even fatal to your rabbits. Imagine again dunking yourself in the pool with all your clothes on and then getting out of the pool still soaking wet and then entering into a room with the air conditioner on full blast.
A cold and unpleasant experience, right? This is worse for rabbits because at least you can change into warm clothes. But those poor furry bunnies can’t get out of their wet fur so they can either catch a cold or hypothermia (during colder weather).
Rabbits might thrive better in cold weather but this does not mean that they won’t suffer if they are subjected to extremely cold environments.
A wet fur can cause a drop in your bunny’s body temperature leaving them to develop hypothermia which can be fatal.
How Long Can Rabbits Swim and Do They Drown?
There is no specific time in which rabbits can stay in the water but you cannot just leave your rabbits in the water unattended and for long periods.
Wet fur can pose danger to your rabbit so it is best if they spend a short amount of time in the water.
Also, if your rabbit accidentally falls into the pool or the tub scoop them out immediately.
Rabbits can die of a heart attack and if they’re like regular rabbits who do not like getting wet then an accidental dunking will terrify them to death, literally.
Never let your rabbits swim unattended some pools do not have a ramp that rabbits can use to safely exit the water. This can then increase the likelihood of our rabbit getting fatigued and then drowning.
How Do I Know if My Rabbit Likes Water?
If you’re curious to know if your bunny likes water there are safe ways that you can take to test them.
The key is to take things slowly, do not just get into the pool with your pet and then let them splash in the water. You will just be terrifying and traumatizing them instead of letting them enjoy the experience of water.
You can try doing the following steps:
- Get a shallow basin and fill it with water. Do not fill the washbasin to the brim, you don’t want to fully submerge your rabbit in water.
- Place it near your bunny, do not pick up your bunny and put them in water. Remember, the general rule is that rabbit hates water so you don’t want to put them into something they hate.
- Let your rabbit explore the basin, check their reaction if they ignore then it’s probably that your bunny isn’t into the splashing fun, if they hop into it on their own accord then congratulations, your bunny is an exception to the rule.
- You can then give your bunnies treats after their short splash in the shallow container to help them associate the experience with a positive reward.
- If you notice that they are growing more comfortable in water then you can avail of a small pet paddle pool for your rabbits to swim in.
- Do not leave them unattended and keep them swimming for a short period.
Are There Any Advantages to Letting My Rabbits Swim?
There can be an advantage to letting your bunnies swim. Swimming can lessen the pain brought on by arthritis. However, better consult your vet if this activity is recommended for your pet.
This therapy is called Aquatherapy and is used on animals who are suffering from arthritis or joint inflammation as swimming can help soothe the pain of their aching joints. This is also done under the guidance and supervision of professionals so do not attempt to give Aquatherapy to your rabbits at home.
Also, swimming can help your bunny cold down during hot weather. Rabbits cannot sweat and their dense fur makes it hard for them to release body heat during very hot weather.
Swimming can help them cool down but this will probably only work for rabbits who like water in the first place.
Can I Let My Rabbit Swim in the Pool?
Your rabbit can swim in a pool (if they like it) but do not put your rabbit in a pool treated with chlorine.
Rabbit’s fur is sensitive and chlorine is a harsh chemical that can cause harm to their luscious coats. Also, chlorine might get into their eyes, nose, and ears and can be irritating.
Lastly, putting your rabbit in chlorinated water increases their risks of ingesting pool water which can wreak havoc on their very sensitive gut.
Is it Safe for My Rabbit to Go Swimming in the Ocean?
Rabbits can swim in the ocean but it does not mean that it’s a good idea!
The salt in the saltwater can irritate your rabbit’s skin and it can be harmful to their eyes, nose, and ears. Ingesting salt water can also be harmful to your rabbit.
Besides, other creatures live in the ocean, so you are also exposing your rabbits to them. Parasites can also be trapped in the fur of your rabbits even after they are already far from the ocean.
Having swimming rabbits is probably one of the cutest things in the world but do not expect that all rabbits will be water-loving thumpers.
Most of them aren’t and that’s okay. Just like other pets, rabbits have their quirks and idiosyncrasies, the key is to never force an activity on your rabbit. If you find that they don’t enjoy it then let it go.
Rabbits, in general, love the laid-back life and while some of them are active playmates, so swimming may not be in their repertoire.