Do Pet Rabbits Like to Swim?

Forget swimming laps – could your pet rabbit become the next Olympic medalist in freestyle? Maybe not, but some breeds do take readily to the water! Ravishing Rex gliding gracefully through the pond, a Flemish Giant frog-kicking with power – who knew rabbits could swim? From accidental falls to recreational paddles, we dive into the wet truth about bunnies in the drink. Can all rabbits swim? Do they even like it? Find out what makes certain fluffy marshmallows more Michael Phelps than U-SS-inkable Stone when it comes to the bath. You won’t believe the Olympic hopefuls we found ready to hop in the pool! So grab your towel, carrots and swim caps…this thrilling plunge with rabbits is about to make a splash!

Can Rabbits Swim?

Rabbits are not natural swimmers like some animals such as otters or water rats. However, some breeds of domesticated rabbits can swim if necessary. Rabbits have powerful hind legs that can propel them forward in the water. Their front paws are useful for steering. While rabbits do not have webbed feet like ducks, the fur on their feet can provide some buoyancy to help them stay afloat.

Wild rabbits tend to avoid bodies of water and are not comfortable in the water. However, pet rabbits can sometimes end up in water accidentally and may need to swim if they fall into a pond or pool. With practice and training, some pet rabbits can even learn to swim for fun or exercise.

Some key factors determine whether a rabbit can swim:

  • Breed – Larger rabbit breeds with more body fat like Flemish Giants tend to be better swimmers than smaller, leaner breeds. The fur also plays a role, as a thick double coat helps with buoyancy.

  • Size – Larger rabbits have an advantage over smaller rabbits when swimming. Their greater size and power helps them stay afloat and swim more strongly.

  • Body fat – Rabbits with more fat content can float more easily. Slimmer rabbits with less body fat will have a harder time staying afloat.

  • Coat – A thick, full coat provides insulation and buoyancy in the water. Rex and other breeds with sparser fur may have more difficulty swimming.

  • Temperament – Confident rabbits who are calm under stress are more likely to handle swimming without panic. Timid, anxious rabbits may struggle.

With practice, even petite breeds like Netherland Dwarfs can become capable swimmers. But larger, calmer rabbits with water-resistant coats tend to have the best innate swimming abilities. Lop-eared breeds often find swimming more challenging since their disproportionately heavy ears weigh them down in the water.

Do Rabbits Like to Swim?

Whether rabbits like to swim really depends on the individual rabbit. Some rabbits do enjoy swimming recreationally once they get used to it. But many rabbits are apprehensive about water and only swim if absolutely necessary.

For rabbits who are unsure about water, try introducing swimming gradually in a safe, controlled environment. Provide shallow steps or ramps so they can ease into the water at their own pace. Offer treats and praise for incremental progress. This can help coax an anxious rabbit into becoming more comfortable with the process.

Certain breeds are more likely to take readily to swimming. Energetic, athletic breeds like Belgians often adapt well to water activities once introduced properly. Calm, laidback personalities also help. But even within the same breed, some individuals will like swimming more than others based on their unique personality.

The ideal water temperature for a rabbit is between 70-75 degrees Fahrenheit. Warmer water temperatures tend to encourage swimming by preventing chilling. Rabbits should also be dried thoroughly after swimming to prevent hypothermia. Never force a rabbit into water or overwhelm them. Let them advance at their own pace.

With patience and care, many rabbits can be conditioned to enjoy supervised swimming sessions for exercise and enrichment. But ultimately rabbits are not aquatic creatures. They swim out of necessity, not for recreation. Any rabbit who appears highly stressed by swimming should not be forced to continue. Their safety and comfort should always come first.

Why Do Rabbits Hate Getting Wet?

There are several reasons why rabbits generally dislike getting wet or are averse to water:

  • Fur coat – A rabbit's coat is not designed for water. Wet fur clings to their bodies and takes a very long time to fully dry. This leaves them vulnerable to chills.

  • Instinct – As prey animals, rabbits have an ingrained instinct to avoid any unknown or hazardous situation. Many instinctively perceive water as a threat.

  • Scent markers – Rabbits use scent glands to mark territory. When wet, these scents wash away, leaving a rabbit feeling exposed.

  • Nature – Rabbits originate from dry, desert-like environments. Swimming is an unnatural activity for their species. They did not evolve as swimmers.

  • Stress – For timid rabbits, being immersed in water can be frightening. The unfamiliar sensation can cause stress, panic, and fear.

  • Cold – Rabbit body temperature averages 101-103° F. If water is colder than this, immersion can cause dangerous chilling. Hypothermia can set in quickly.

  • Weight – When wet, a rabbit's heavy fur coat makes them weigh significantly more. This makes swimming and movement difficult.

  • Ears – For lop-eared breeds, having their disproportionately large ears submerged can inhibit balance and coordination.

By understanding all the challenges water presents for a rabbit, owners can empathize with why most rabbits are averse to it. With this perspective, they can work patiently to make swimming a less intimidating experience if desired.

Which Breeds of Rabbits Like Water?

Some rabbits are naturally more inclined to enjoy or better adapt to water than others. Breeds that typically excel at swimming include:

  • Flemish Giants – Their large size, thick coat, calm temperament and strength make them ideal swimmers.

  • New Zealand Whites – An energetic, confident breed that can pick up swimming skills readily.

  • English Spots – Their dense, slick coat sheds water well and they take readily to training.

  • Belgian Hares – Lean and athletic, Belgians have energy and stamina perfect for swimming.

  • French Lops – Surprisingly adept swimmers given their large, heavily ears thanks to muscular builds.

  • Dutch Rabbits – A sturdy, substantial breed with a mildly curious nature suited for water exploration.

  • Harlequins – Their agility and adventurous personality helps them excel at new water activities.

Other breeds like Mini Rex, English Lops, Holland Lops, and Netherland Dwarfs may need more coaxing and training to feel comfortable swimming due to their small size, short fur, or delicate builds. But individuals within any breed can learn to swim with time and positive reinforcement.

No breed should ever be forced into swimming if they show signs of fear or distress. Selective breeding to develop “aquatic” breeds is also inadvisable given rabbits’ inherent aversion to water. Responsible training tailored to each rabbit’s temperament is key.

How Can I Tell if My Rabbit Enjoys Swimming?

Some subtle signs can indicate your rabbit is learning to enjoy their time in the water:

  • Willingness – They voluntarily approach and enter the water when given the chance.

  • Excitement – They exhibit playful, energetic behavior in anticipation of swimming time.

  • Relaxation – Once in the water they appear calm, with ears back, flat on the surface.

  • Exploration – They show interest in investigating laps around a safe space, like a tub or kiddie pool.

  • Confidence – They maintain composure if accidentally submerged and can self-recover.

  • Satisfaction – After swimming sessions, they appear content, fulfilled, and relaxed.

  • Repetition – Given the option, they return to the water repeatedly in the same session.

  • Focus – They remain attentive to your guidance and commands while swimming.

  • Improved performance – Their swimming technique and endurance shows gradual improvement.

  • Grooming – They do not excessively groom themselves afterwards to dry off, indicating less stress.

Note lethargy, anxiety, avoidance, shaking, scratching or wet fur pulling after swimming can signal a rabbit is not enjoying the experience. Never force a reluctant rabbit to swim – a positive attitude is key! Patience may be required to transition a rabbit who is initially timid about water into an avid swimming enthusiast.

My Rabbit Accidentally Fell into the Water

If your rabbit accidentally falls into a body of water, stay calm but act immediately. Rabbits are not natural swimmers and can quickly become overwhelmed if they tumble into a pond, pool, toilet or other water fixture. Here are some tips for responding:

  • Don't jump in after them; use a net or branch to steer them toward safety. Your presence in the water could further distressed them.

  • If possible, cut off their access to a larger body of water to prevent them from swimming out too far and tiring themselves out. Close doors and use a pool skimmer to gently direct them back toward you if needed.

  • Be ready with thick, absorbent towels once they are within reach. Scoop or lift them out of the water gently but quickly. Rabbits can chill rapidly when soaked.

  • Wrap them in dry towels immediately and gently sop up excess water. Avoid rubbing vigorously as this can further dampen their sensitive skin. The goal is to remove water without compressing their wet fur against their body.

  • Blow dry their coat on a low, cool setting if their fur is still quite wet. Never use heat settings as this can burn or further stresses their system. Avoid prolonged blow drying as stress can compromise body temperature regulation.

  • Provide a dry place to rest and recover away from drafts. Monitor their breathing rate – if it remains significantly elevated after drying, seek emergency vet care. Shock can set in.

  • Offer diluted Pedialyte to prevent dehydration and candied ginger for circulation and recovery. Keep them in a warm, draft-free space overnight if temperature regulation appears impacted.

Stay alert for signs of lethargy, weakness, nasal discharge, or head tilting indicating water aspiration issues. Get emergency vet assistance right away if they present. With quick action, most rabbits make a full recovery from an accidental aquatic tumble.

My Rabbit Fell into a Garden Pond

Having your rabbit fall into a garden pond is very stressful, but try to stay calm and take immediate action. Your quick response can be lifesaving. Follow these steps if your rabbit takes an unexpected plunge:

  • Shout their name loudly to help them orient toward your voice and swim to safety. The sound can guide them back toward land or to you.

  • Use a pool skimmer, branch, broom handle or other long object to gently steer them toward the edge if they seem disoriented. Avoid physically entering the pond yourself.

  • Drain or lower the water level if possible so they can reach solid ground more easily. The shallower depth will make it easier to scoop them out.

  • Extend a garden hose into the pond and spray a gentle stream of water. The current can help direct their path to safety. But take care not to overwhelm them with too much pressure.

  • Once within reach, lift them carefully out by the torso, cradling their hind legs in one hand. Move slowly to avoid water inhalation. Wrap them immediately in absorbent towels.

  • Dry thoroughly by squeezing out their coat – don't rub. Blow dry on a cool setting if needed, but monitor for signs of stress like panting or trembling. Getting dry takes priority over a perfect blow out.

  • Check their breathing rate and watch for wheezing, coughing or nasal discharge indicating possible water in the lungs. Get emergency vet assistance if you notice aspiration symptoms.

  • Offer Pedialyte, ginger supplements and recovery food. Keep them quiet but monitored in a warm, draft-free area for at least 12 hours as they re-stabilize body temperature.

Stay vigilant for signs of illness like appetite loss or lethargy in the days that follow and consult your vet promptly if you observe anything concerning after a pond dunking.

My Rabbit Fell into a Swimming Pool

Having your beloved bunny fall into a swimming pool is incredibly alarming. Their small size relative to a large pool can make locating and rescuing them highly challenging. But with some preparation, you can respond quickly and appropriately. Here are some tips if your rabbit takes a tumble:

  • Have an emergency pool rescue net easily accessible for immediate retrieval. Practice using it calmly ahead of time so you are ready.

  • Designate someone to keep eyes on the rabbit at all times – the main focus should be guiding them to safety quickly, not panicking.

  • Don’t jump into the pool – the splashing can further disorient an already stressed rabbit. Use the net to gently lift them out.

  • Cut off pool access once they are safely out so they don't dart back in. Lift slowly and avoid compressing their wet fur against their body as you get them out.

  • Treat for shock – towel dry gently, provide a warm space to rest, diluted Pedialyte for hydration and candied ginger to improve circulation. Monitor breathing rate.

  • Blow dry on a low setting if needed but discontinue if they show signs of stress. Avoid overheating and do not rub their coat. Wet fur should be gently squeezed out instead.

  • Consult an emergency vet if they inhale water or become lethargic. Signs of respiratory issues like wheezing require immediate medical treatment. Aspiration pneumonia is a serious risk.

  • Ensure the pool is securely rabbit-proofed going forward. Perimeter fencing, covered pumps and ramps out can prevent a repeat accident. Supervise always.

While falling into a pool can be life threatening for a rabbit, your quick response using some key rescue tips can greatly improve their chances of a positive outcome in this scenario. Don't panic, act fast and get assistance.

My Rabbit Fell into the Sink, Toilet or Bathtub

If your rabbit takes an accidental tumble into a water-filled sink, toilet or bathtub, here are some dos and don'ts:

  • Scoop them out quickly with your hands or a soft towel – avoid harsh grabbing as they will likely be panicked.

  • Drain any lingering water as you lift them out so their wet fur is not further compressed getting them up.

  • Dry gently with a soft towel and use a hair dryer on cool setting if needed – monitor for signs of stress. Don't force a full blow out.

  • Provide a heating pad covered with a towel for them to rest on to maintain body warmth as their coat dries. Keep them isolated from drafts.

  • Watch closely for any symptoms like coughing, wheezing or lethargy that could indicate water inhalation issues. Seek vet assistance immediately if aspiration is suspected.

  • Offer Pedialyte or diluted juice to stabilize blood sugar and hydration levels. The shock of a cold water submersion can take a heavy toll.

  • Avoid harshly rubbing their coat during drying as the skin will be sensitive – squeeze gently instead to remove excess dampness. Vigorous rubbing can cause further chill.

  • Let them rest in a calm, quiet space for at least 12-24 hours to recover. Monitor appetite and activity levels for any concerning regression.

  • Reinforce any open water sources like toilets or tubs to prevent a repeat accident. Use baby gates, weigh lids down or keep doors closed. Better bunny-proofing is key!

While falling into household water fixtures can be extremely dangerous for rabbits, responding calmly and methodically improves the likelihood of a positive outcome after this trauma. Don't hesitate to get emergency vet assistance if aspiration or decreased responsiveness is noted during the critical 24-72 hour window post-incident – pneumonia is a real threat. With attentive aftercare though, many bunnies bounce back fully from an accidental dip!


While rabbits are not natural swimmers, some breeds and individual rabbits can adapt to water and even enjoy swimming recreationally. Proper introduction and positive reinforcement are key to helping hesitant rabbits acclimate to the water. Even with training though, swimming remains an unnatural activity for rabbits. Any water introduction should be done gradually, gently and only if the rabbit shows a willing, receptive temperament. Rabbits who appear highly distressed by water should never be forced to swim or immersed. Understanding rabbits' inherent vulnerability to wet environments helps owners empathize with their aversion and inform better care practices. With patience and care though, swimming can become an enriching experience that select pet rabbits grow to embrace.


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