Like all animals, rabbits need constant access to fresh water to survive. But exactly how much water do rabbits need on a daily basis? And are water bottles or water bowls a better option? If you’ve just adopted a pet rabbit, you probably have lots of these and many other similar questions. Not to worry – in this article, we cover everything you need to know about rabbits and their daily water requirements in detail. We also talk about two common problems regarding pet rabbits and water intake – rabbits who drink much more water than usual and rabbits who don’t drink enough water – and what you can do about them.
How Much Water Do Rabbits Need
First, the answer to the primary question: rabbits drink water. In fact, they drink lots of it – more than comparable species. The average rabbit consumes between 50 to 150 milliliters of water per kilogram (or 2.2 pounds) of body weight daily. Compare that to dogs who need about 50 to 60 ml of fluid per kilogram of body weight. Basically, a rabbit weighing 2 kg can drink as much water per day as a 10 kg dog! Needless to say, water is essential for the health and well-being of your pet rabbit. However, exactly how much water your rabbit may need per day is rather individual, as fluid intake depends on several factors.
- Age: how old your rabbit pet is plays a role in how much water they need. Baby bunnies who still consume mother’s milk need less water than adult rabbits.
- Health condition: pregnant and breastfeeding rabbits need much more water than usual, while sick rabbits may drink less fluid than normal.
- Diet: bunnies who eat lots of fresh foods need less water as they get it through fresh produce, while rabbits who mostly live on dry food need more.
- Climate: the higher the temperature, the more water most rabbits will drink.
As you can see, various factors can influence a rabbit’s drinking habits. But for healthy adult rabbits, it’s good to follow the general advice, which is around 50-100 ml of fluid per kg of body weight daily.
Why Is Water Important for Rabbits
Clearly, rabbits drink quite a lot of water on a daily basis. But why is water so important for rabbits? There are four main functions that only water can fulfill, all of which are crucial for your bun’s health and well-being.
- Water ‘feeds’ every single cell and organ of your rabbit’s body
- It’s an essential part of your pet’s blood
- It keeps your rabbit’s digestive system moving
- It helps your bunny flush out excess calcium.
Water is vital for your rabbit’s health, so make sure they have access to fresh and clean water at all times. Whether that water is coming from a bottle or a bowl doesn’t make much of a difference, although each has its pros and cons, which we’ll cover right below.
Water Bottle vs Water Bowl
What is better for rabbits: a water bowl or a water bottle? Many pet parents seem to prefer one over the other, but the reality is, both options have their benefits and their drawbacks. What’s really important is that your pet rabbit has a constant supply of fresh water – that’s it. That being said, which option you choose may play a role in how much water your pet drinks. To help you make the right decision, we’ve outlined some of the major pros and cons of both bottles and bowls.
- More natural: in the wild, rabbits drink water from the ground – water sources like lakes, ponds, puddles, etc. – so a water bowl seems to be a more natural option.
- Comfortable on the neck: because rabbits don’t have to tilt their heads up in an unnatural position to drink, a water bowl is comfortable and easy on the neck.
- Easier to drink from: unlike water bottles, the bowls don’t let the water come out one drop at a time; instead, your rabbit can drink as fast or slow as they like.
- Gets dirty fast: the main con of water bowls is that they get dirty really quickly, especially if your pet likes to throw them around. Hay, bedding, litter and other material can get inside the bowl and soil the water, making it undrinkable to rabbits.
- Requires frequent changing: because the water in a bowl can get dirty quickly, you have to change it regularly during the day. Depending on your work schedule, this may be a major inconvenience.
- Keeps water clean: one of the main reasons why pet parents like using water bottles is because they’re highly convenient. Unlike bowls, they keep the water clean for long periods of time, which can encourage rabbits to drink more.
- No need for constant changing: if you get a larger bottle, you won’t have to change your rabbit’s water multiple times throughout the day as it will stay fresh and clean.
- May be uncomfortable: as mentioned, drinking from water bottles can be a little uncomfortable for rabbits as they have to tilt their heads to drink. This is not an issue for most pets, but it can be for some.
- Harder to clean: although you have to clean bowls more frequently, the bottles are much harder to clean.
If you have a hard time choosing between bottles and bowls, it’s best to purchase both and see which option your bunny prefers. In fact, it may be a good idea to use both a bowl and bottle so your rabbit can drink wherever and however they like every day.
Worries About Your Rabbit’s Water Intake
If your bunny suddenly starts drinking more water than usual, don’t panic as there can be a slew of reasons for this change in behavior. For one, most rabbits will drink more water during hotter months or after they’ve been physically active. This is actually a good thing so don’t try to discourage your bunny from drinking more water. The problem is if the pet starts drinking much more water than usual and doesn’t seem to slow down. This could indicate kidney disease, diabetes or some other serious health problem.
If your rabbit starts drinking less and less water, they could simply be dissatisfied with the cleanliness of their water, so try to change it more frequently. However, this could also indicate a problem with their gums, especially if they’re typically drinking from a water bottle (the snout could be irritating them). Drinking less water than usual could also be due to a change in diet – if your bunny normally eats dry food but you start feeding them fresh veggies and plants, they could be getting sufficient amount of fluid from their new, fresh food.
With all that said, any sudden change in your rabbit’s behavior – whether that’s drinking much more water or much less – warrants a visit to the vet.