Rabbits are spectacular pets and have some unique characteristics. They can show love in ways other animals can’t and they can surely bring a smile to our face each day. This is what makes rabbit owners so careful and so protective of our bunnies. We want the best for them, and we are hesitant to try anything that we don’t have a definitive answer about. We aren’t willing to take any chances. Recently, while strolling some online forums, I saw a question that I wanted to address. Can rabbits swim? After looking into it, here is what I can tell you on the topic.
So, can rabbits swim? Yes, rabbits can swim. They have webbing in their paws, body fat to help them remain buoyant and naturally will paddle when placed in waters. Some rabbits can even swim to escape predators in the wild.
This doesn’t, however, place your bunny in a category of your next beach pal or a Michael Phelps replica, so it’s essential that we cover some vital information that will ensure you don’t harm your rabbit or cause a traumatic experience. Let’s dive into some of that information.
More About Rabbits Swimming Abilities
So, we just touched on this briefly. Your rabbit will not sink to the bottom of the backyard pool if he or she is placed in water. However, your bunny also will not be a fan of the water. Rabbits do have the natural body composition and brain capacity to swim or head back to safety.
However, they aren’t designed mentally to handle this stimulation and they just flat out dislike it. Even taking a full body bath will traumatize your bunny and it’s hugely advised against.
If your bunny doesn’t like a bath in 4 inches of water, I can assure you they aren’t going to be a fan of riding the wave pools with you at the next family vacation.
The Dangers of Shock with Rabbits or Small Animals
Questions such as this where the animal clearly the physical ability but does not have the ability to manage the stress can create a very dangerous combination. With small animals, we aren’t usually worried about the bunny sinking to the bottom of the pool, but the aftermath could cause your bunny more harm than you may believe.
Small animals are frightened very quickly and have very tiny organs in their body including their hearts and brains. Too much traumatic experience or stimulation can send a rabbit into shock or even worse yet, result in death. They just can’t handle the stimulation as our 110-pound Labrador can.
This is a key reason why we even have a post about being very careful transporting your bunny in a vehicle. Is a car physically harming in nature? No, but your bunny will be terrified, and the same results can happen. Here is that post if you haven’t read it and want to check it out.
I’ve Heard Bunnies Like to Swim, Now What?
This may be true. Some animals with certain owners have great luck with odd things like this that most of the same species of animals it could likely kill. With owning pet’s, it’s very unethical to trust YouTube videos and other online videos to make your decision.
If one individual was lucky enough to find a rabbit that purely enjoys the water, that’s great, but the chances are that your bunny does not have the same love for a day in the pool that the other individual is experiencing.
At the end of the day, it’s not worth the risk. Watching your rabbit attempt to swim to safety will probably cause more fear and anxiety than anything. Getting joy out of a small animal swimming to safety out of fear is not the most fun in the sun is a better way to word it.
Let’s talk about other considerations that you need to keep in mind before throwing on the tanning lotion and placing the umbrella in your drinks.
Rabbits Have Dense Fur
Also, keep in mind that a domesticated rabbit is 100% different than a wild rabbit. Your pet bunny has dense fur and is prone to overheating. A day poolside for your rabbit is likely to cause your rabbit to be placed in high heat conditions.
Additionally, if your rabbit is submerged in the water, the dense fur takes longer to dry than you may think. This is another cause for concern to consider before just placing some floating tubes around your bunnies’ arm and hoping for the best.
Bunny Skin Is Fragile and Delicate
Just like a bunny’s fur, their skin can’t dry adequately very quickly. If they are submerged in water, it can cause the skin to dry out badly and even cause it to become irritated or tear. If this happens you opening the door to infection and discomfort for your bunny.
In turn, you’re looking at possible vet bills or worst-case scenario your rabbit could fall ill and pass away due to the bacteria or infections that penetrate the skin. Overall, seems like a strong enough reason alone not to allow your bunny to swim.
Your Rabbits Can’t Deflect Water Like Humans
When we are submerged in water or swim, we can use our hands to remove water from our eyes and face. Your rabbit can’t do this which is in part one of the reason for the increased anxiety and panic your bunny may experience.
When your rabbit is wet, they may have water blocking their vision, penetrating their ears or even making it into their mouths and throats. It’s almost like they are physically safe from drowning but mentally, they feel as if they are drowning. Seems cruel to me to place your bunny in this situation.
After the Swim, Here’s What Can Happen
Depending on where you are swimming, the exit can also be dangerous for your bunny. Sometimes your pool will have stairs or other methods or reaching the pool deck. When your bunny is in this panicked state of mind, there is potential for slips, falls and other hazards.
The danger does not end when the bunny exits the water.
What If My Bunny Already Went Swimming?
If you have already gone swimming with your bunny and landed on this article, likely you are okay, and your bunny managed to push through the terror. It is essential however that you clean your bunny with clean water and ensure that they are rinsed and dried thoroughly.
Without taking this additional step, you run the risk of the moisture trapping into their skin and fur, and since pools often contain chemicals and other additives, this can become dangerous for your rabbit. You can use a clean bucket of water and towels to dry your bunny.
If your bunny is still drying slowly, you can use a blow dryer on the lowest setting but keep in mind that this may also cause fear in your rabbit and too much exposure could overheat your rabbit. Be careful to also not use the “cool” setting with the blow dryer.
Cold air on a wet bunny could lead to other infections or respiratory issues just like a young child being exposed to winter temperatures or cold air after being or getting wet.
What’s My Take on Rabbits Swimming?
Overall, I don’t see a reason to do this. Unless you are trying for the most amount of YouTube hits at your bunnies’ expense, it’s not worth it. Even if that’s the case, it’s not worth it and seems borderline selfish to do so.
You may think your bunny loves it but, in all reality, that’s likely not the case and not worth exposing your rabbit to infection, fractures or a state of panic and anxiety.
Your bunny is just as adorable playing indoors as they are swimming in a pool. No need to go overboard searching for the cute factor on your Facebook news feed.
I Know My Bunnies Love Water, Now What?
Well, this is a different story. If you have been doing this for years, had no issues and have a bunny that truly craves a day in the sun and floating with a margarita in their paw than more power to you. You apparently have found a way to make this safe and enjoyable for all parties involved, and I commend you for it.
This post was more geared towards individuals considering it and scared of the consequences. All pets are different, all rabbits are different, and all owners are different. If you have a method that works, it’s not really my business to advise you to change that and again, continue doing what works for you.
We merely wanted to illustrate the dangers for individuals who just haven’t been educated on the topic.
Putting It All Together, Just Because Bunnies Can Swim Doesn’t Mean They Should
To tie things up, your bunny can swim. We know that. They have the physical body structure and clearly were created to survive water if need be. They may like it, and they may hate it.
If you haven’t ever tried to let your bunny swim, I don’t believe it’s a risk worth taking and after reading this, you likely won’t. If your bunny is already a master diver and loves the pool, keep on doing your thing.
What’s your experience with rabbits swimming? Do you advise it? Do you have any recommendations for the readers? Leave a comment below.