Can Rabbits Swim? – How To Swim Safely

Swimming is definitely not the first thing that comes to our mind when thinking of rabbits. They hop, they jump, they dig, but swimming? Isn’t it weird? Can rabbits swim and most importantly do they like being in water? We have your answers!

can rabbits swim

In this article, we will discuss each and everything regarding rabbits and swimming. We will explore the reasons why should or shouldn’t allow rabbits to swim in water along with pros, cons and recommendations. At the end of this article, you’ll be able to decide whether or not to allow your lovely pet to take a dip into the water. This post is going to be very useful so make sure to read it till the end.

Can Rabbits Swim?

Well, the simple and straightforward answer is, yes. Technically, rabbits can swim in water. Almost all the rabbits breeds including the larger ones like Flemish Giants and smaller ones like Dwarf Hotots are capable of swimming. They use their hindlimbs as well as the forelimbs to propel through the water. Believe it or not, rabbits develop their swimming ability just after 8 to 15 days post-birth.

You’ll be amazed to know that rabbits not only can swim, some breeds have evolved to survive in wet environments. The water-loving rabbit breeds are known as swamp rabbits. These bunnies have evolved to live in wet environments and found mostly in wet marshes, wetlands and low lying wet forests. While rabbits don’t swim as fast as the other swimming animals, they are well learnt swimmers and thrive in wet environments. And that’s pretty amazing!!

But what about house rabbits? Can bunnies swim when they have been kept as our pets or companions?

If you’re not having a swamp bunny as a pet, the first obvious question is whether or not can your house rabbit swim.

Again, your answer is yes. Technically, all rabbits can propel themselves through water. But the real question is, should you take them for swimming? Is it a good idea?

Here is the tricky part, it is definitely not a good idea to take your bunny for swimming. As we have discussed in our previous articles that bathing the bunnies can stress them. They can’t stay submerged in water for long, it can give them shocks. And this can be an alarming situation for a rabbit owner because these are very delicate animals. Rabbits easily get scared and traumatized which can impact their health in a very negative manner.

So, the bottom line is, you shouldn’t let your bunny stay in water for too long. For this reason, it is not recommended to bath them or keep them wet for longer.

Let’s now discuss some reasons why we recommend keeping bunnies out of water.

Reasons When Rabbits Should’nt Be Allowed To Swim

The very first reason why you shouldn’t let your bunny stay in water because their skin is very delicate. They have a thick fur coat on them and it doesn’t dry on its own. Keeping with wet fur can lead to several serious problems.

When the fur coat is left undried for long, it can lead to tearing. Further, when the skin of the rabbit is torn, it can catch infections very quickly which in turn can be uncomfortable and painful for your fur baby.

According to studies, if the skin of a rabbit is severely exposed to moisture, it can lead to problems like redness, baldness, crusting, severe bacterial infection etc.

Do Rabbits Enjoy Swimming?

Although you may have heard or read that rabbits enjoy swimming, a majority of bunnies can’t tolerate being submerged in water. They can get trauma and shock if this is done to them.

Because we can’t really ask a bunny whether or not she likes swimming, the best we can do is to know her perspective by looking at her normal life. So, a bunny spends all her life on clean and dry bedding. They are kept protected against environmental elements like rain and snow. We don’t want our rabbits to stay in wet bedding or we don’t let them drench in rains as well. In the same way, we can’t allow them to soak in water.

Can Bunnies Swim In A Swimming Pool?

A swimming pool is the most likely place you would want to take your rabbit after making your mind to teach her swimming. There are hundreds of videos on the internet where you might get tempted to see a bunny swimming in a pool. It looks exciting and funny. Right? But is it the right way? Most importantly, is it safe?

If you’re a responsible rabbit partner then you should know that it is very important to keep the sensitive ears of a rabbit dry all the time. And if you let her swim in a swimming pool, water can get into her ears, eyes, nose and mouth. The trapped water not only leads to several kinds of infections, it can impact the digestive system of a bunny if swallowed. This is mainly because the water inside the swimming pools is rich in chlorine which is very harmful for pets. Not just pets, the swimming pool water is not meant for any living creature. Moreover, This chemical-rich water can be very harsh on your bunny’s skin.

Can Rabbits Swim In A Sea?

Rabbits are capable of swimming in water. It doesn’t matter where the water is, it can be a river, ocean or a pool. These pets are accomplished swimmers and can propel themselves through the water.

But the deal is, most water bodies contain foreign elements that are not suitable for a house rabbit. When it comes to the sea, despite having fresh water, it is not safe to leave your bunny in it. This is because of the presence of aquatic creatures like crabs, snakes, fishes etc. The little bunny is a fearful prey animal, she can’t defend herself especially when she is swimming.

Not just that, water bodies contain loads of microscopic parasites and water-borne bacteria which can be very deadly. These microscopic creatures can get into the eyes, mouth or nose of your bunny which can lead to serious infections.

Another thing that should be kept in mind while taking bunnies out for swimming is that they should have access to a dry land where they can get back as soon as possible. If the swimming pool doesn’t have a large deck or stairway, it can be very difficult for a bunny to come outside the water. In such cases, she might get stressed and refuse to come in water the next time onwards.

In the case of natural water bodies, rabbits can easily find an accessible sea-Shore or riverbank. But because you can’t predict the tides and heavy currents of the sea, it can get a bit tricky to ensure the safety of your pet.

Can A Bunny Swim Alongside You?

First of all, you can’t force a rabbit to get in the water. Never ever try that. It is not only very cruel to force an animal to do something which it doesn’t like, your bunny may end up harming herself due to this forceful behavior.

If you take your bunny in water against her will, she might also attack you or hurt herself due to the stress. This is mainly because rabbits always like to keep themselves dry and clean. They aren’t very used to staying wet for a long time.

Another thing that confuses most rabbit owners is, if your bunny is swimming, how should you allow this behavior? For how long should you keep your bunny inside the water? How to prevent her from reaching the deep part of the river, pool or any other water bodies.

When you’re not able to lift her back on the bank, shore or a river bed, it can get a bit stressful for your bunny. While you can control your stress, overstressing can lead to life threatening problems like cardiac arrest, blood pressure and even death.

If you’re still certain about taking your bunny for a quick swim session, you should never leave her unattended at any cost. Further, never let her move further than your arms reach.

Swimming Therapy For Rabbits

Aquatherapy or swimming therapy is a great treatment for bunnies suffering from arthritis or any other kind of joint inflammation. This is the only time when swimming can be very beneficial for your bunny.

If your bunny is suffering from any such issue, you can surely consult your vet regarding the aquatherapy. This type of therapy involves introducing the rabbits to water in a controlled manner in a limited environment. However, this shouldn’t be performed just by anyone. Instead, an experienced person should perform aquatherapy for the best benefits.

Swimming Tips For Bunnies

If you’ve taken your rabbit swimming with you or if she somehow got wet, here are the things you should follow to make sure that she is safe and healthy.

  • Once your bunny takes out from a water body, always rinse her fur nicely with fresh and clean water.
  • After rinsing the fur of your bunny nicely, the next step is to dry her completely. Drying is very important because you can’t leave the fur moist for a long time. Make sure no water is trapped in her skin.
  • To dry the fur coat of your bunny, use soft and clean towels and even a hair dryer at a very slow speed. Further, if you’re not sure about the use of the hair dryer, leave it because you don’t want to hurt the delicate skin of your bunny.
  • Never take a sick rabbit inside the water.

Frequently Asked Questions

Does My Rabbit Enjoy Swimming?

The perspective of each rabbit towards swimming is very different from other animals. In fact, it varies from breeds to breeds. For instance, the Flemish giant doesn’t like getting wet at all and the Belgian Hare enjoy splashing in the puddles.

But in general, know one thing, most rabbits don’t enjoy swimming at all. Their thick fur coat absorbs a lot of water and it gets trapped inside it. This is very similar to swimming with a thick woolen jacket – uncomfortable and stressful.

Is It Safe For Bunnies To Swim?

If possible, avoid taking your pet for swimming. In fact, we recommend keeping your pet dry as far as possible. This includes no frequent bathing and unnecessary contact with water. Most rabbits find winning a very stressful activity and it can give them deadly shock and trauma. Some bunnies can even die because of this trauma.

But if your rabbit gets wet all of a sudden, take her out immediately and then wrap them around a soft warm towel or if possible, dry her using a hair dryer at low speed. Never ever leave the fur coat of your pet moist for a long time.

Can I Take My Bunny To A Swimming Pool?

No. We don’t recommend putting your bunny inside the chlorinated water inside the swimming pool. The reason is, chlorine is a very toxic chemical for little animals. It not only irritates the skin but also causes serious digestive issues and abdominal problems if swallowed by mistake. So, avoid taking your bunny for swimming inside a pool. If you want her to give some swimming lessons, consider using a tub or a kids foldable pool with fresh water in it.

Final Words

Although there are some breeds that do well in wet environments and can swim, a majority of house rabbits prefer keeping themselves dry and away from moisture. In a situation when your bunny falls into the water accidentally, make sure to take her out immediately and dry her completely using soft towels and air. Again, avoid using blow dryers as they can irritate the skin of your poor pet. Overall, rabbits can swim but they prefer staying dry instead. So, it’s always better to keep your bunny out of water for her better health and well-being. Can rabbits swim and how to allow them to enjoy swimming in a safe and controlled manner