Can Rabbits Swim?

When it comes to comparing rabbits to other popular pets, you can start to see the differences. For example, the most popular pets worldwide are cats and dogs, which require a whole different system to take care of them. Dogs especially need to take baths to keep their skin clean and healthy. Cats are not as much, but dogs and cats can swim, although most do not want to. But what about rabbits, can they swim?

Most rabbits can swim. But like most cats and dogs, rabbits do not like to swim. In fact, in the wild, rabbits only swim to escape predators. However, two species of rabbits like to swim. Both the swamp and marsh rabbits can be seen playing with others in the water. But, they will play in very shallow water and will still only swim if their lives depend on it. 

As you continue to read this article, we will be discussing the swimming capabilities of rabbits more in-depth. Along with that, we will also talk about bathing your rabbit and if they even like getting wet.

© Image by Pixamio from Pixabay

Can Rabbits Swim?

When it comes to rabbits swimming, it is usually only in the case of an emergency. Most rabbits can swim, but they do not swim for fun. The only time you will see a rabbit swim in the wild is to escape a predator. However, as previously stated, two species of rabbits have adapted to swim and can do so very well. 

Marsh and swamp rabbits have evolved to live in these areas. These rabbits live their entire lives either in, near, or around water. They have adapted to swim at a moment’s notice and even play with others in shallow water. 

Marsh rabbits have webbed feet and have a much thinner undercoat to help them deal with being in the water. Something to note, while these rabbits have evolved to survive in and around water, they will still avoid swimming unless it is to escape a potential threat. 

With that said, most rabbits have a thick undercoat used to keep them warm and protect them from the elements. The major downside to this undercoat is that it absorbs water very well. Imagine jumping into a pool with your clothes on. The added water weight is uncomfortable and can’t leave you feeling very cold if you don’t change. The same goes for rabbits and their undercoats. Because of the undercoat’s absorption qualities, rabbits will only use swimming as a last resort, relying on their speed and agility to escape harm whenever possible.

When it comes to the common domesticated breeds of rabbits, some like the Belgian Hare do not mind getting wet and will even play in puddles if you let them. Whereas other species like the Flemish Giant hate getting wet. With that said, do some research on your specific breed of domesticated rabbit. You might find that they like to play in the water and don’t mind getting wet. 

Is It Safe For Rabbits To Swim?

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While in the wild, it might be necessary for them to swim under certain circumstances. However, for domesticated rabbits, you should avoid getting them completely wet. Most rabbits will get panicked when they have to swim or get completely soaked. The added stress is not healthy for the rabbit either. Not only that, but because your rabbit’s undercoat can absorb so much water, it can get extremely cold. 

With that said, if your rabbit happens to accidentally fall into a swimming pool or jump into a tub full of water, take them out immediately. The longer your rabbit stays in the water, the more scared they will get. While your rabbit is panicking, they might inhale some water which will damage their lungs.

When you take them out of the water, take a towel and wrap them in it and gently dry them as much as you can. You will want to avoid using a hairdryer as the heat can damage your rabbit’s skin, and the loud noise will frighten them further.

For most rabbits, getting thoroughly wet can also lead to some skin issues. If not dried off quickly enough, their skin will be vulnerable to tearing. This can lead to infections, pain, redness, and even temporary baldness. 

Pool water is especially dangerous when it comes to rabbits. The chlorine we put in the water to keep it clean can severely damage a rabbit’s eyes. Not only that, but we briefly discussed the sensitivity of your rabbit’s skin. The chlorine will amplify the potential for skin tearing as it slowly dries.

Can You Give A Rabbit A Bath?

© Photo by Pradeep Kumar Sahu from Pexels

Rabbits are exceptionally clean animals and seldom require bathing. Bathing them can be dangerous since they panic in the water and may fracture a leg or spine if they thrash about. Wet rabbits can get a cold and develop pneumonia, respiratory infections, hypothermia, and other potentially fatal diseases.

There are instances where it is okay to clean your bunny. For example, some accidents can happen where you let your rabbit out to play, and they somehow find a way to spill something on them. Perhaps you let your rabbit outside to play, and they play in a puddle, getting them all muddy. In these instances, it is okay for you to get them damp and help clean them off. However, most of the time, your rabbit will do a fantastic job of keeping themselves clean. 

Another common reason you would want to bathe your rabbit is a messy rear end. If your rabbit’s bum is dirty, it is usually caused by a poor diet that has too much sugar. This excess sugar can come from many sources. However, it is generally caused by feeding too many fruits to your bunny. 

Dirty bottoms can also be caused by other health issues like being overweight, bladder stones, or dental problems. So it is always wise to call your vet and get their opinion, or even take your bunny in for an appointment if a dirty butt is a common occurrence.

A soiled bottom is unclean and unpleasant, and it can lead to additional issues such as skin ulcers, urine scalding, and even flystrike. While your veterinarian investigates the underlying problem, you should keep your bunny quiet and comfortable by giving him a mild bath to help keep irritating waste matter away from the skin.

A messy bottom is unsanitary and uncomfortable and can lead to other problems, including skin sores, urine scalding, and even flystrike. While your vet determines the underlying problem, you should keep your bunny calm and comfortable by providing a gentle “butt bath” to help keep irritating waste matter away from the skin.

Caress your rabbit gently and keep it in a secure, comfortable spot. Apply the cornstarch to the dirty areas and massage it gently through the fur and down to the skin. Once the problem is covered, it should slip away quickly, but you may additionally remove any residues with a fine-tooth flea comb. Finally, wipe away any stray powder to prevent the bunny from inhaling it.

Final Thoughts

While it is true that most rabbits can swim, wild rabbits will only do so to escape a predatory threat. Domesticated rabbits should never have a reason to swim unless an accident occurs. With that said, rabbits typically do not need baths, and you should avoid getting them completely wet. If your bunny does get thoroughly soaked, it is essential that you quickly and gently completely dry them off. If their skin is wet for too long, it can cause sores and other injuries.

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