Can Rabbits Swim? (Is Wet Fur Safe For Rabbits)

rabbit looking at water

Affiliate Disclaimer

As an affiliate, we may earn a commission from qualifying purchases. We get commissions for purchases made through links on this website from Amazon and other third parties.

Rabbits are wild animals and as such, you may think that they would have the ability to survive in any way they need to. This might include swimming to get from point A to point B.

However, it isn’t very often that you would see a rabbit taking to the water and you have to ask yourself why.

Rabbits are able to swim but this doesn’t mean that they like to, or that they even should. If a rabbit is in mortal danger then it will dive in and swim to safety. But having wet fur can be very unpleasant and even dangerous for a rabbit since they take such a long to to dry.

If you have a pet rabbit, it may be tempting to allow them access to water, or perhaps try to bathe them. However, your pet will not enjoy the experience and there is no need to do it.

Do Rabbits Swim In The Wild?

Rabbits are able to swim, in fact, they are relatively strong swimmers and when they face danger in the wild, they will do what it takes to get away, including swimming.

There are some rabbits, such as swamp rabbits found in the southern parts of the United States that frequently find themselves swimming to avoid a predator.

That said, rabbits aren’t huge fans of the water so you won’t see them swimming for enjoyment.

it is important to keep in mind that being in the water, especially for long periods of time could be dangerous for a bunny.

Depending on where in the world the rabbit lives, there could be predators in the water but more importantly, as the rabbit gets wet, its fur becomes much heavier.

This means that swimming can be something of a challenge for a rabbit who will quickly become fatigued when swimming for a long time.

Moreover, once the rabbit gets out of the water, his thick fur coat, particularly the undercoat, will take a long time to dry. If it is cold, being wet could result in things like hypothermia, which could be fatal.

Do Domestic Rabbits Swim?

Domestic rabbits have no reason to swim. Putting them into a garden pool or other body of water will do nothing more than distress them.

Much like their wild counterparts, the domestic rabbits would be able to swim if it was essential but they certainly wouldn’t do it by choice.

Rabbits scare very easily and the shock of being submerged in water may be too great for them. It is entirely possible for a rabbit to have a heart attack as a result of this shock and lose its life.

Should You Bathe A Rabbit?

Rabbits are very clean animals. If you observe your pet, you will notice that she spends a lot of time grooming herself. For this reason alone, owners should avoid bathing their bunnies as they simply don’t need help in staying clean.

That said, a lot of rabbit owners think that giving their pet a bath will serve as a form of entertainment for the rabbit but this is not true. Your rabbit will likely become very distressed and won’t be interested in water play in the same way that a dog perhaps would be.

There may be times when a rabbit needs to be bathed but this is very rare and should only ever be done on the advice of a trained vet.

Rather than submerging your rabbit in a bath of water, you might sometimes need to wipe them down, especially if their bottoms become soiled from illness or an inability to clean themselves.

Health Problems Related To A Soiled Bottom

Perhaps one of the most unusual symptoms of illness in a rabbit is that they may develop a soiled rear end. However, this shouldn’t instantly be taken as an issue with the digestive system.

Although a poor diet that is too high in sugar is one of the main reasons for this and altering the diet is typically enough to rid your bunny of the problem.

But a dirty bottom could also indicate a problem with the spine, teeth or joint, for example, something like arthritis. Normally, problems like arthritis or spinal issues affect older rabbits and this is unfortunately something that comes with age.

Furthermore, rabbits that are overweight may develop these painful conditions that make it much more difficult for them to stay on top of their personal hygiene.

Where dental issues are concerned, rabbits are susceptible to developed dental disease which would also result in the animal not being able to clean itself properly.

This condition would usually present with other symptoms such as a loss of appetite, weight loss, and excess salivation.

There are many other conditions and diseases that could affect the cleanliness of your rabbits behind but in any case, the animal should never be submerged in water for cleaning.

How To Clean A Rabbit’s Bottom

Knowing that you cannot bathe a rabbit means that you need to come up with more creative ways of helping you pet, should they need assistance in staying clean.

If your rabbit’s rear is covered in dry poop that may have become matted into the fur, you can rub a small amount of corn starch onto the area and use a gentle brush to remove the dirt.

However, if your rabbit has a sodden or heavily soiled bottom, you will need to use water.

There are rabbit shampoos available which cater to the needs of their sensitive skin. You should never use soaps or shampoos that are made for humans as these could irritate the skin.

It is best to apply any water topically and only to the area that you will be cleaning.

As we mentioned, if your vet advises you to bathe the rabbit, then it is OK to do this.

Once all dirt has been removed, you will need to gently but thoroughly towel dry the area.


Rabbits are good swimmers and they will get into the water if they need to escape danger. However, they do not like to swim as it can be difficult for them as their thick wet coat weighs them down making swimming a very tiring pursuit.

Moreover, rabbits take a very long time to dry and this means that they are prone to respiratory illnesses and hypothermia as they remain wet for a long period of time.

For this reason, you should avoid bathing a bunny and only do this if it has been advised by your vet. There are other ways to help you rabbit stay clean if it needs assistance in this area.

About the author

Latest posts