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Can Rabbits Swim? Is It Safe, and Do They Like It?

Nicole Cosgrove

As house pets, rabbits have some important differences from cats and dogs. From their diet to their sleeping patterns, learning to live well with a rabbit can take some adjustments. But by learning their unique habits and tendencies, you can easily come to live together in harmony.

Like most rabbit owners, have you wondered whether you need to give them a bath (like cats or dogs)? While rabbits keep themselves clean enough,  this doesn’t mean that they must stay out of water entirely.

In fact, most rabbits can swim – but is it a good idea? Do they like it?

In today’s article, we’ll be answering these questions as well as giving you our top two reasons why you wouldn’t want to let your rabbit go for a swim. And by the end of this short guide, you’ll know everything you need to about how rabbits feel about swimming.

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Yes, Rabbits CAN Swim

You need only look to two breeds of wild rabbit to see that rabbits most definitely can swim: Swamp rabbits and Marsh rabbits have both adapted to live in wet environments, and regularly swim in their day-to-day lives. In fact, they seem to enjoy it a lot – in the wild, they can be observed playing with each other in the water.

What about domesticated rabbits, though? The type of bunny that lives in your home is also able to swim, though individual rabbits have different preferences for it. We’ll be exploring that in the next section.

Do Rabbits Like to Swim?

Different breeds of domesticated rabbits have different tendencies to swimming. For instance, our Flemish Giant rabbit absolutely despises getting wet, while our close friend’s Belgian Hare is quite fond of playing in puddles.

On a whole, though, most rabbits do not like swimming. Their plush coats can absorb a lot of water, making it feel similar to swimming in a dress or suit – definitely not a fun experience. Combine that with difficulties regulating their body temperature, and swimming can be a very stressful activity for rabbits.

Is It Safe for Rabbits to Swim?

Whenever possible, you should avoid letting your rabbit get completely wet. Many rabbits find the experience of swimming to be shocking and stressful, and it can quickly cause their body temperature to drop to dangerous levels. What’s more, their sensitive skin can easily be irritated by the change from wet to dry.

If your rabbit happens to accidentally fall into a pool, pond, or the bathtub – get them out immediately! The surprise of being submerged can send them into a panic, and inhaling water will harm their lungs. Once they’re back on dry land and feeling safer, wrap them in a towel and gently but thoroughly help them to get completely dry; avoid blow dryers, as these can irritate your rabbit’s delicate skin.

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Image: Pxhere

Should You Put Your Bunny in a Swimming Pool?

Under no circumstances should you allow your rabbit to play in the chlorinated water of a swimming pool! Chlorine is a serious irritant to a rabbit’s skin. Even more so, most outdoor swimming pools lack any ability for your rabbit to climb out on their own – potentially leading to a stressful and dangerous fear response when your rabbit wants to get out of the water.

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Final Thoughts on Rabbits in Water

While some wild breeds of rabbit are well-suited to life in the water, most domesticated rabbits always prefer to remain completely dry. In the event that your rabbit jumps or falls into water, be sure to quickly help them dry off with a towel but avoid blow dryers as the heat can cause damage to your rabbit’s skin.

So, while rabbits can swim to keep themselves safe, it is an intensely stressful activity for them and should almost always be avoided. Keep your rabbits out of the water, and they’ll live longer, healthier, and happier lives.

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Featured Image: H.M. Stolker from Pixabay

Nicole Cosgrove

Nicole is the proud mom of Baby, a Burmese cat and Rosa, a New Zealand Huntaway. A Canadian expat, Nicole now lives on a lush forest property with her Kiwi husband in New Zealand. She has a strong love for all animals of all shapes and sizes (and particularly loves a good interspecies friendship) and wants to share her animal knowledge and other experts' knowledge with pet lovers across the globe.