Image of rabbits waiting to swim and water drops falling. The caption reads "Can rabbits swim."

Yes, rabbits can swim if they are forced to, but they do not like it. Their fur is not made to be soaked or underwater and the design of a rabbit’s body is not made to swim. Swimming can cause rabbits stress and health problems.

Can rabbits swim?

Yes, rabbits can swim! Although they do not like to they absolutely can and they will swim as a basic survival instinct when needed. This is not to say that all rabbits hate swimming, some like swimming but most do not and will not swim for enjoyment.

Most mammals can swim instinctively; rabbits are no exception and are capable of instinctively swimming as soon as 7 days after they are born.  Please reference our can you give a rabbit a bath article for further details on how most rabbits feel and react to being in water and how dangerous it can be.

Can rabbits swim in pools?

No, rabbits should never swim in a chemically treated pool. There are many dangers that come with allowing your rabbits to swim in a swimming pool.

The chemicals can be very hard on their skin and if ingested can be deadly to your rabbit. If the swimming pool is not chemically treated it is still not a good idea to allow your rabbit to swim in a body of water that is as deep as a pool.

If your rabbit enjoys swimming we recommend not letting them swim in anything deeper than 1 foot of water for their own safety and definitely not in water that has been chemically treated, this includes chlorine.

Do rabbits like to swim?

No, rabbits do not like to swim. As previously mentioned we can’t speak for all rabbits but it’s a general rule of thumb that rabbits much prefer to be on land. Being in the water stresses them out and a rabbit will usually only swim out of pure necessity.

Why don’t rabbits like to swim?

It’s uncomfortable for a rabbit to swim. They do not like to be wet much less fully submerged in a body of water trying to swim. Swimming is a survival instinct for rabbits so if they are swimming chances are they are panic stricken which can cause enough distress to induce a heart attack or for the rabbit to go into complete shock.

When their coat is wet it keeps their fur from being able to shut in heat which can cause them to be cold and uncomfortable, hypothermia is possible. It is also hard for a rabbit to breathe while swimming, rabbits breathe through their nose so they must keep their nose above water while swimming. I want to reinforce that we do not speak for all domestic rabbits, we know there are some rabbits that enjoy swimming but the vast majority do not.

If you are curious as to whether or not your rabbit is a rabbit who would enjoy swimming you can test it out. Again though, I am completely against having any rabbit swim.

Please do not just put your rabbit in a pool and see what happens. Start with a small amount of water and see if they enjoy being in the water. You should leave a small tub or kiddie pool of water in an area that they can access it safely and see if they explore the water and if so, are they finding enjoyment in doing so? This can take some time, rabbits are very cautious creatures. You should leave water accessible for 3-5 days; if your rabbit has no interest then they do not want to explore this option.

Rabbits fur is not made to get soaked

Rabbits have an amazing fur coat, it keeps them dry, protects them and keeps them warm. When we give a rabbit a bath it destroys what nature intended and makes the rabbit feel uncomfortable in the least.

Imagine wearing sweatshirt, a t-shirt and then an under shirt and having someone completely soak you all the way through and having to wear that until it dried out naturally. I am sure this would make anyone very unhappy and uncomfortable. I believe this is how a rabbit may feel if it is given a bath only they do not have the mental ability to know that they will be okay since they live indoors.

If they lived in the wild and became soaked they would most likely freeze to death even at moderate temperatures, loose there skin protection and camouflaging abilities. Can you see why rabbits hate swimming or taking a “bath” ? It leaves them scared and vulnerable to illness.

Video of rabbits swimming to evade predators

This is a very interesting video of rabbits swimming to save their life. Please keep in mind that these types of rabbits have evolved to live in a wet environment. Even though they are evolved, notice how the rabbit tries to keep from getting wet by hoping extremely high to avoid the large puddle.

About the Author

My name is Vanessa and I love my buns. My current house rabbit is Mr. Bunny, he is a black and white Dutch that just turned 9 years old.

I believe that rabbits are a magnificent animal that make great pets for SOME people. My mission is to share what I have learned about rabbits over the past 20 years to improve the relationship between our pets and us. Please contact me or comment if you have any questions or comments.