Can Rabbits Swim?

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Last Updated on:
November 23, 2018

Wondering if your rabbit can swim? You’re not alone.

People often wonder if their pet rabbit swim. In recent years, videos of people putting their furry friend in the pool with them have gained in popularity. The short answer to the question “can rabbits swim?” is yes. The better question to ask yourself is “should I try to make my rabbit swim?” Well the answer to that question is no.

How & Why Rabbits Can Swim

In the wild, it may be essential for a rabbit to swim in order to escape from danger. There are even some rabbits that live in very wet habitats, like swamps, who regularly have to hop in the water to avoid being a predator’s lunch. Although they can swim, they are not faster than most of the animals they are trying to avoid. That being said, rabbits do not ever decide to go for a swim for the sheer joy of it.

Rabbits develop the ability to swim by the age of 8 to 15 days. They use both their hind limbs and forelimbs to swim, just like humans use both their arms and legs.

Shock Potential

There are a number of reasons it is best to not attempt to take your rabbit for a swim. The biggest reason is it can lead to shock. Submerging a rabbit in water may actually shock it to the point of a heart attack and death, according to the House Rabbit Society. Knowing the potential for this outcome, many people consider it animal cruelty to ever submerge a pet rabbit in water.

Rabbit Skin/Fur in Water

Rabbit fur


On top of it being frightening for your rabbit, there are some practical reasons it is best to let them stay dry. The undercoat on your pet has the ability to soak up a lot of moisture, which will weigh your friend down. This would be similar to you trying to go for a swim in soaking wet jeans and a coat. You would get worn out quite quickly. The same is true for your rabbit. On top of this, it takes a very long time for rabbit’s fur to dry.

Rabbit skin is very delicate. If it is chronically exposed to moisture it can crack and blister. This may lead to redness, baldness, and eventually bacterial infections.

Rabbits and Swimming Pools

The most tempting place for most pet owners to try to take their rabbit swimming is their own swimming pool. While online videos may make it seem like rabbits enjoy this, they likely do not. Your rabbit would struggle to keep the water from getting in his eyes, ears, mouth, and nose.

Wet ears on a rabbit can lead to a variety of health problems.

Rabbits often get uncomfortable after wetting their face using their water bowls. Swallowing pool water, which is often full of chlorine and other chemicals, is bad news for any creature. With their small bodies and delicate systems, it can be particularly bad news for a rabbit. Consider how difficult it would be for your rabbit to get out of your pool, as well. Unlike a river or pond with sloped banks, your pool likely does not have a way for your rabbit to get out on his own if they need to. At the end of the day, it is best to keep your rabbit out of your swimming pool.

Aqua Therapy

You may have heard of rabbits getting aqua therpapy to help with joint pain. This is a practice most often used for rabbits with arthritis. In this case, swimming can be beneficial for your rabbit. It is important to note that this therapy is done in a very controlled environment under the supervision of an expert. If this is something that appeals to you, ask your veterinarian.

If Your Rabbit Goes Swimming

If your rabbit does end up swimming, intentionally or otherwise, there are some steps to take to ensure they remain healthy. You will want to rinse your rabbit thoroughly after they get out of the water. This is true even if they swam in a pond or lake rather than your pool. The next step is to get your rabbit completely dry. You can use either a towel or a hair dryer on its lowest setting. This will likely take a long time, but it is worth it to protect your rabbit’s skin and health.

Final Thoughts

In conclusion, although a rabbit CAN swim, a pet rabbit SHOULD NOT. Considering all of the other fun things you can try with your rabbit, it is best to skip this activity, which can lead to health problems or even death. This is something you should know before getting a rabbit.