You have a pet rabbit or maybe you’re thinking about getting one. Because you’re a responsible pet owner, you want to make sure that you’re taking proper care of your little furball.
You know that it’s essential to keep your bunny happy and healthy, but what’s the best way for you to meet his need for life- and health-sustaining hydration?
The most natural way for a rabbit to drink water is from a bowl. This replicates their natural method in the wild for drinking water from puddles and streams. Rabbit can and will drink from a bowl placed in their hutch or enclosure.
One of the most popular ways to provide your rabbit with water is to clip a water bottle to the side of the cage. These water bottles hang upside down with a small, angled, drip-proof nozzle extension that your rabbit can lick to release water whenever he’s thirsty. These are not the most natural method to provide your rabbit with fresh water.
A water bottle is easy and convenient, but other owners ask: Can rabbits drink from a bowl? Yes, they can.
An in fact, we highly recommend they do. Read more to find out why.
What do rabbits drink?
Before we discuss how to provide your rabbit with something to drink, let’s discuss what you should give him. The answer is simple: water.
We, humans, enjoy all sorts of beverages, and because we love our pets it’s tempting to want to share all that tasty goodness with them.
The ASPCA, however, warns that things like alcohol, milk, caffeine, citrus, and coffee can be poisonous to your pet. We know, too, that rabbits can’t handle much sugar, salt, or fat.
So, water is the winner because it’s always safe and always does the job. Always give your rabbit water to drink, and nothing else.
How do rabbits drink?
Your rabbit likes to lap up as much water as he wants whenever he wants it.
To get an idea of how your bunny drinks, close your eyes to picture a rabbit bouncing around in the wild. When he’s thirsty, he finds water in rivers and streams and puddles. His natural drinking position, then, is to bend forward to lap up the water.
When you consider the way he naturally and most comfortably drinks, can you do any better than provide him with a good water bowl?
When drinking from a water bottle, on the other hand, your rabbit is forced tilt his head up to reach the nozzle and to stretch unnaturally so that he can lick at the tip of the nozzle. And don’t forget that the nozzle will limit the amount of water he can lap up with each drink.
But don’t discard the idea of also adding a water bottle to your bunny’s cage. I’ll talk about this later.
What kind of water?
Rule of thumb: whatever water you drink. Your rabbit will love tap water served at room temperature.
What kind of bowl?
You will discover a wide variety of rabbit water bowls at your local pet store or online.
- You want your bunny to easily and comfortably access his water, so the bowl you provide should be shallow. The best are approximately 2 inches deep and 5 or 6 inches in diameter, although there’s no hard and fast rule so you should buy whatever you like and, ultimately, that your bunny likes.
- If your bowl is going to sit directly on the straw, you should get the heaviest one you can find. Some bunnies get playful and enjoy tipping their bowl. If you discover that your rabbit likes to knock the water bowl around, you can usually fix the problem by elevating it with any one of the many stands that are available.
- You can also consider getting a bowl that attaches to the side of your rabbit’s cage. These come in several styles, ranging from those that simply hang on a cross bar to those that screw on. A lot of rabbit owners prefer bowls that sit in a bracket so that they can remove the bowl for cleaning without having to do any disassembly.
- The material from which your rabbit’s water bowl is made doesn’t matter. You will find bowls made from metal, plastic, and ceramic. I prefer ceramic because of the weight and because they are often decorated with fun designs.
- You’ll be cleaning the bowl frequently, so it’s a good idea to get one that is dishwasher safe. Most that you’ll find are, but it’s important to double-check.
Let’s revisit the idea of placing a water bottle in the cage along with the bowl. Out in the wild, rabbits are always making choices, so they like having options when they’re living in your hutch.
It’s not a bad idea to place a bottle directly above or next to your rabbit’s water bowl so that your bunny can go back and forth according whatever suits his fancy.
A water bottle is also good insurance in case your rabbit empties or spills his water bowl while you’re away or just don’t notice. You never want your rabbit to become dehydrated.
How often should I clean the water bowl?
Your rabbit won’t drink stale or dirty water, so you should clean his water bowl every day. Simply wash the bowl with warm, soapy water, rinse it well, and the refill it.
It’s a good idea to disinfect the bowl once a week with a mixture of 1 tablespoon of bleach in a cup of water.
Yes, your pet rabbit can, and probably prefers to drink water from a bowl. It’s the most natural and comfortable posture for him. There are a variety of types of bowls that you can get online or at the pet store.