Technically, rabbits are physically capable of swimming. Some species have even been observed swimming, such as the Marsh Rabbit and Swamp Rabbit, but they are species that have adapted to such activities. Domestic rabbits, however, are not as well adjusted to swimming. In fact, it can be incredibly dangerous for them.
In this article, we discuss what it looks like for a rabbit to swim, including whether they like swimming and the related risks. We also go over safer activities that your rabbit can do instead.
Do Rabbits Enjoy Swimming?
Some breeds may tolerate or even enjoy swimming, but most rabbits do not like to swim at all. Being submerged in water can make your rabbit feel incredibly vulnerable, and since they’re a prey animal, feelings of vulnerability can be particularly jarring. Being in water can be so startling for your rabbit that even bathing them is not recommended.
Risks of Allowing Your Rabbit to Be Submerged in Water
If your rabbit becomes submerged in water, they will likely become startled. This may cause them to thrash so violently that they injure themselves. It is not unheard of for a rabbit to fracture a bone in their body, including core bones in the spinal column.
Even if your rabbit doesn’t injure themselves during their shocked reaction, wet rabbit hair clumps heavily. This makes it difficult to dry your rabbit, which may make them prone to developing a respiratory infection or hypothermia.
What to Do If Your Rabbit Accidentally Gets Wet
Knowing the risks that water can pose to your rabbit, it is smart to keep your pet away from any bodies of water, such as tubs, pools, or ponds. Still, accidents can always happen, and your rabbit may accidentally become wet at some point.
If it happens, don’t panic. Remove your rabbit from the water, and check them over to ensure that they have not injured themselves. If they have, contact your vet immediately. Once you’re sure your rabbit is not hurt, you can work on drying them. It is crucial to be delicate while drying your rabbit, as their skin is very sensitive.
You can use a hairdryer to dry your rabbit, but only with extreme caution. Moving the hairdryer too close can burn your rabbit. If you’ve never used a hairdryer on your rabbit before, you may not want to use one directly after their frightening experience of falling in the water, as the sound may startle them further. A hairdryer should only be used for a very short time.
The 3 Safe Ways to Keep Your Rabbit Active
Although swimming is not a recommended activity for rabbits, there are plenty of other activities that are safe and fun for your pet to participate in. Keeping your bunny active is vital to their happiness and well-being, so find time to encourage them to exercise each day.
1. Rabbit Runs
To support your rabbit’s need to exercise, you will need to have an activity pen for them to play in. This pen should be larger than their hutch, giving them plenty of space to run. You’ll know if your rabbit’s playpen is large enough if they have room to run, jump, hop, and stand on their hind legs.
2. Hutch Accessories
You can also encourage your rabbit to be active by constructing unique structures inside of their hutch. These can include hiding places, tunnels, platforms, and more. The more places your rabbit has to explore, the more active they are likely to be.
3. Food and Toys
If your rabbit is food oriented, you can use food as a reward to keep them active. When feeding your rabbit, try to encourage them to forage for their food. For example, you can fill a treat ball with little pieces of food for them to dig out.
Be sure to provide toys too. These are essential to encourage exercise and provide your rabbit with activity, entertainment, and mental stimulation. Since the same toys can become boring quickly, it is important to rotate them consistently.
Also, don’t forget to give your rabbit attention every day. This can include grooming, training, and playing games with them.
While rabbits can technically swim, it is not considered a safe activity for them. Fortunately, your pet can participate in plenty of other activities. Focus on the fun things that your bunny can do instead of swimming. Being submerged in water will only make your rabbit panic, which could lead to self-injury or illness. As fun as it would be to swim with a rabbit, we should keep our pets’ safety as our highest priority.
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Featured Image Credit: Pixel-Shot, Shutterstock