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Can Rabbits Swim?

Have you ever wondered if rabbits can swim in water or pool with chlorine or what they’ll do if they get in the water?

Rabbit anatomy, lightweight bones, and lack of waterproof fur make swimming difficult and potentially dangerous for them.

In this article, we will discuss the swimming abilities of rabbits, safety concerns, and how to help a rabbit swim, if necessary.

Can Rabbits Swim?

Swimming is not natural for rabbits, but they can swim if necessary.

If a rabbit finds itself in water, it can use its front legs to paddle and its hind legs to kick, allowing it to stay afloat and move through the water.

However, rabbits are not strong swimmers and would quickly become exhausted and distressed in the water.

Note: The swamp rabbit (Sylvilagus aquaticus), also called the cane-cutter, is an exception as this species has a strong preference for wet areas, and it will take to the water and swim.

These swap rabbits are primarily found in the swamps and wetlands of the southern United States.

Rabbits and Water

In general, rabbits are terrestrial creatures.

They are built for land living, with powerful hind legs for jumping and agile movement.

Water bodies aren’t their favored environment, although they might occasionally encounter them in their natural habitats.

Rabbit Swimming Abilities

So, can rabbits swim? The straightforward answer is yes. Like many other mammals, rabbits possess the instinctual ability to paddle in the water.

This survival instinct comes into play in case of danger, where they might need to swim to escape predators or navigate challenging terrain.

Their ability to swim doesn’t necessarily imply that they enjoy it or should be encouraged to engage in swimming activities.

Factors Affecting Rabbit Swimming

The swimming ability of a rabbit can be influenced by several factors, including its breed, size, overall health status, and previous experiences with water.

Some rabbit breeds may be more inclined to swim than others due to their physical attributes.

For instance, larger, stronger rabbits might be more capable of handling the physical demands of swimming than smaller breeds.

Similarly, a rabbit’s health plays a role in determining its swimming capabilities.

A healthy and active rabbit may be better equipped to handle the stress of swimming compared to an older, sick, or frail rabbit.

Safety Concerns for Rabbit Swimming

Although rabbits possess the ability to swim, swimming can be an extremely stressful and potentially hazardous activity for them.

They can easily become scared and panicky in water, resulting in injuries or fatal accidents.

Another concern is the rabbit’s dense fur, which takes a long time to dry and can lead to hypothermia if not correctly taken care of.

Also, the dampness can create a conducive environment for fungal growth and other skin issues.

How to Help a Rabbit Swim

Although we don’t recommend allowing your bunny to swim, there could be unique situations where it’s necessary, such as in specific medical scenarios under the advice of a vet.

In such instances, here’s a guide on how you can help your rabbit swim in the safest way possible.

1. Assess Your Rabbit’s Ability

Before introducing your rabbit to the water, you should assess its physical and mental readiness.

A rabbit that is frightened, weak, or in poor health should never be encouraged to swim.

You should consult a vet before starting any swimming practice for your pet rabbit.

2. Preparing for Swimming

When preparing for rabbit swimming, ensure the water is warm and shallow.

Rabbits can be sensitive to temperature changes, and a sudden plunge into cold water can cause a shock.

The water level should be shallow enough for the rabbit to touch the bottom comfortably with its feet.

A non-slip mat at the bottom of the tub or pool can offer additional safety by providing a grip.

3. Teaching Your Rabbit to Swim

Start the swimming lessons by gradually introducing your rabbit to the water.

Allow it to get accustomed to the sensation of water on its feet.

Stay close by, offering comfort and reassurance.

Over time, you can slowly increase the depth of the water, ensuring your rabbit always feels secure and comfortable.

4. Safety Precautions for Rabbit Swimming Lessons

Never leave your rabbit unattended while it’s in the water.

Have a warm towel nearby to dry your rabbit immediately after the swim.

Carefully observe your rabbit during the swim for signs of distress or discomfort.

If at any point your rabbit appears to be frightened or begins to struggle, promptly remove them from the water.

After the practice, ensure your rabbit is thoroughly dried and kept warm to prevent hypothermia.

Also, monitor your rabbit for any changes in behavior or appetite in the hours and days following the swim, as these could be signs of stress or illness.


Here are some frequently asked questions.

Do Rabbits Like To Be In Water?

Most rabbits do not enjoy being in the water and should not be bathed unless necessary.

When submerged in water, rabbits can become very stressed, leading to health problems.

We have never taken our rabbits out for swimming, but once we thoroughly bathed our New Zealand white who fell into a condemn engine oil, we sprinkled around her hutch to scare army ants and snakes.

How Fast/How Long Can Rabbits Swim?

There’s no standard speed or length for a swimming rabbit as it’s not an activity they are adapted for or should regularly engage in.

When forced to swim, a rabbit’s speed or length would depend on its size, strength, and stress levels.

Do Rabbits Like Water To Play In?

Rabbits generally do not like to play in the water.

They prefer to stay dry and clean themselves using their tongues and paws.

Instead of water play, provide your rabbit with safe toys and activities like tunnels, digging boxes, and chew toys to keep them entertained.

[sc_fs_multi_faq headline-0=”h3″ question-0=”What Kind Of Rabbits Swim?” answer-0=”All rabbits can swim if necessary, but swap rabbits really love wet areas and will regularly swim in their day to day lives.” image-0=”” headline-1=”h3″ question-1=”Can Rabbits Swim In Chlorine or Pool?” answer-1=”Rabbits should not be exposed to chlorine or swim in chlorinated water like in the pools. The chemicals can harm their eyes, skin, and fur, and ingestion can cause digestive issues.” image-1=”” headline-2=”h3″ question-2=”Can Rabbits Swim In The Ocean?” answer-2=”Rabbits can not swim in the ocean. The salt water can harm their skin and fur, and ingestion can cause digestive issues. Also, the waves and currents can be hazardous for a small animal like a rabbit.” image-2=”” count=”3″ html=”true” css_class=””]


Rabbits have the physical capacity to swim, but it is not an activity they naturally enjoy or should be regularly exposed to.

The associated risks, including stress, potential injury, and health complications, outweigh the potential benefits.

Therefore, keeping your rabbit safe on dry land is best, where they can hop and play to their heart’s content.

We hope this article helped you know if rabbits can swim. If you have further questions, comment below, and we will answer them.


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