Behavior | Care

Can Rabbits Swim? 

white rabbit at the edge of a lake.

Dog owners know that swimming is one activity they can share with their pets, and although cats aren’t as water-loving as dogs, a dunking in the pool won’t usually cause any harm. But what about rabbits? Can rabbits swim, or should you go to great lengths to keep them away from the water?   

Let’s see whether getting your bun accustomed to occasional dips in the tub or pool will be a good idea.  

So Can Rabbits Swim? 

Technically, yes. Some wild bun breeds, such as the Marsh rabbit, thrive in wet environments and even seem to enjoy swimming. Moreover, swimming is a survival instinct that nature has hardwired into rabbits. Buns in the wild will jump into a river or pond to flee from predators. This means that bunnies can and do swim to save their lives. Pet rabbits may not encounter any situation requiring them to plunge into deep water, but they can stay afloat if they fall into the pool.   

group of rabbits near water.

But Do Rabbits Like It?   

That’s a better question. Even though rabbits can swim, it doesn’t mean you should make it a habit to take them with you to the pool. Some breeds, like the Belgian Hare, may enjoy playing in puddles of water, but most rabbits don’t like getting wet.  

Because of their dense coat, they quickly get waterlogged, which is not a fun experience.  Wet hair can also get knotted, and you’ll probably have to get rid of the tangles with scissors.  

In addition, rabbits have trouble regulating their body temperature, making swimming a stressful activity, especially when the weather is cold. In extreme cases, falling into a pool during cold weather can lead to shock and even death.  

Are There Breeds That Enjoy Swimming?    

Not ALL rabbits hate swimming. We did mention that some wild buns have learned to make swimming part of their daily activities. When it comes to domesticated rabbits, the Flemish rabbit and Dwarf Hotot seem to relish playing in the water more than other bun types.

That said, it doesn’t mean you should immediately take your Dwarf Hotot or Flemish bun into the pool. Instead, first determine if your pet doesn’t mind getting wet. 

How Can You Tell If They Like to Swim?  

Because each rabbit is unique, you may just have a bun that loves the water. But finding out how he feels about going for a lap or two can be challenging. Please don’t make the mistake of dunking your pet into the water. This will likely cause panic and stress out your fur baby.  

Here are gentler ways to find out if you can interest your bun in swimming.  

  • Spritz your pet’s hutch with water: If he tries to get away from the mist, he hates getting wet and won’t enjoy swimming.  
  • Watch his reaction to his water bowl: Does your bun dip his paws into the water? Or does he get into the bowl and splash around? These activities can be signs that he isn’t opposed to being wet.  
  • See how he reacts to having a bath: There were likely some instances when you needed to spot clean your bun. How did he handle the experience? If he struggled with all his might to run away from a wet washcloth, he might be the type who hates the sensation of getting water on his fur.  
group of rabbits drinking from a dish.

What About Chlorinated Pools?   

Even if your bun loves the water, we advise against taking him for a dip in a chlorinated pool. Chlorine is a chemical that can be toxic to rabbits. It can irritate the skin and impact the digestive system if swallowed.   

Can Rabbits Swim in an Ocean or Lake?  

The sea may seem safer than a chlorinated pool because of the absence of chemicals in the water. However, you’ll expose your pet to elements foreign to him if you take him to the sea. We’re not only talking about creatures, such as water snakes, fishes, and crabs but also about water-borne bacteria and parasites. These can get lodged into the fur or get inside your bun’s ears, eyes or mouth and cause infections. 

How Long Can Rabbits Swim?   

Even if your bun turns out to be an avid swimmer, it doesn’t mean you can let him splash around to his heart’s content. At most, bunnies should stay in the water for only about 5-6 minutes.   

Dry him thoroughly after his swim. Rabbits hate having wet fur, and dampness can lead to mats in the coat. Damp skin is also prone to tearing, causing pain to your pet.  

What to Do If Your Rabbit Accidentally Falls into the Water?  

Sudden immersion in water will terrify a rabbit. The fear this creates can lead to a heart attack in extreme cases. Moreover, the surprise of finding himself underwater can cause him to inhale water into his lungs.   

Get your bun into dry land as soon as possible. Wrap him in a warm blanket and calm him. Gently but thoroughly dry his fur to keep him from getting cold. If you use a blow dryer, keep it at least a foot away from your rabbit and use a low heat setting. Watch for signs of illness afterward.  

If your rabbit fell into a chlorinated pool, take him to the vet to make sure the chemical left no ill effects. 

white rabbit drinking out of a dish.

Swimming Tips for Rabbits   

We did say that some buns love playing in the water. If yours is one of those that do, letting him splash around will be a wonderful experience for him. But keep him hale and healthy by following these tips:  

  • Rinse your bun’s fur with clean water afterwards.  
  • Dry him quickly and thoroughly. Having wet hair isn’t good for rabbits.  
  • Use soft towels to blot out the moisture. Avoid using a blow dryer if possible.  
  • Never let a sick rabbit go into the water.  

Can rabbits swim? They can. However, for most buns, swimming is one activity they want to avoid. Even if your rabbit likes the water, limit the time he spends in it and completely dry his fur after swimming.   

We hope you enjoyed this post! If you did, will you give it a share or two 🙂 Thank you! ~from Every Bunny Welcome

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