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Rabbits are one of the most adorable creatures on the planet. Their fluffy bodies and small cuddly stature makes them a great option for pets as well. If you are thinking about getting a pet rabbit, you may have found yourself wondering how they would fare in a swimming pool.
The short answer is yes - rabbits can swim, but it's a little more complicated than that.
A rabbit does have the ability to swim. They can do more than just hop around all day but the real question is, do they like to swim? That’s where things get a bit more complex. Just because an animal can swim doesn’t always mean it’s something they like to do; cats can swim, but most of them avoid the water at all costs (cat parents know all too well).
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Rabbits that live in the wild tend to swim only when they’re in danger. They swim only for survival, and not for recreation. For instance, marsh rabbits are found in the south-eastern parts of the US, and often will be seen swimming through water to avoid a potential predator. However, you won’t find them frolicking in the swamps any other day.
Adopted rabbits, however, have no reason to swim. The only water they need is the kind you find inside of their rabbit run. To them, water is scary in large quantities. Their small bodies are overwhelmed by being cold, wet, and vulnerable so they avoid it as much as possible. A pet rabbit belongs in a good rabbit run, not in a tub of water.
Swimming can be dangerous to a pet rabbit, specifically if they are put into a swimming pool; their undercoat soaks up water like a sponge. Have you ever tried swimming with wet clothes on (or been pushed in a pool)?
The feeling would be similar to what a bunny feels as the water is absorbed into their wet fur. It weighs them down, making it both difficult and exhausting for them to swim. Rabbit owners (or parents as we prefer) are better off keeping their pet bunny away from the swimming pool.
Domesticated rabbits also don’t easily dry off once they are wet. Remember the feeling of walking into an air-conditioned home after swimming? They have this feeling for a long time after the event is over - another reason for them to avoid swimming pools.
Just think of leaving an infant loose in the pool. It’s very easy to drown, even when there are others in the pool. When a child cannot stay afloat, they grab, claw, and do whatever is possible to find something to latch onto. The rabbit does the same thing. They will bite, scratch, or claw their way to safety. In this state of panic, it’s easy for them to be overcome by the water and drown, and even if they don't, other consequences materialize from getting water into the ears and lungs.
Another thing to consider is all of the chemicals found in a swimming pool. If you get chlorine in your eyes it is going to sting, especially for a rabbit. Additionally - they can develop sinus and asthma problems when exposed to these chemicals. The last thing you want for you rabbit is to experience these symptoms, and often times leads to an expensive vet trip. So, can rabbits swim safely? Not in swimming pools.
The fear rabbits experience when dunked into water is overwhelming. The intense cold temperature and paralyzing anxiety from their surroundings can shock their system, and sometimes, in extreme cases, even lead to heart attack.
The risk of scaring a rabbit to death is too great. Can rabbits swim? The answer is yes, they can, but they probably shouldn't. Some say that putting a rabbit into a pool of water is animal cruelty, due to their vulnerability when they are cold and wet, as well as their delicate system. Keep your rabbit out of the pool if at all possible.