Can Rabbits Swim in Water Including Jackrabbits?

Can rabbits swim
Written by Editorial

Whether a rabbit is able to swim or not is a question that this post seeks to answer. Do bunnies swim or not?

Bunnies are adorable animals, so fluffy, social, loving and docile. If you do not own one yet, you should seriously consider having a pair, they live in colonies and being alone, your bunny may get lonely. 

Can rabbit swim in water? This is a common question I get from many people. If you are an animal fancier, you must be knowing the fact that most experts discourage bathing this pet. It stresses it.

Can rabbits swim
Can rabbits swim?

Why else should someone want to know if they can take a dip or not? Is it the many videos you have seen online about bunny swimming or do you genuinely want to know? 

Can bunnies swim? 

The most direct answer yes, “rabbits are capable of swimming and they are adapted to water. If they hadn’t, they wouldn’t have webbing on their paws, fat to keep them buoyant, nor the natural instinct to paddle.” [1] notes one YouTuber.  Here is the video 

Also, the ‘Jimmy Carter rabbit incident,’ which has been described as “killer rabbit” something the press reported as a “swamp rabbit that swam toward the U.S. President Jimmy Carter’s fishing boat on April 20, 1979.” [2]

This got many people to assume bunnies can attack human beings. However, if you are familiar with the story, those swamp bunnies were trying to escape from a hound that was chasing them. 

Furthermore, there is even the case of a marsh rabbit that lives in marshy areas, wetlands, and swamps. This lagomorph can easily swim when necessary. They are known as Sylvilagus palustris a cottontail bunny that lives in swamps and marsh areas. 

Being adapted or able to swim does not mean you love it. Even cats are adapted and capable of swimming. Maybe the question we should try to answer is whether rabbits like it or not and can you train rabbits to swim? 

Rabbits and swimming 

The issue of rabbits being able to swim or not and which breeds can take a dip in water has not been well researched. However, this is one of the bunny’s survival instincts when they want to escape from their predators. 

Our best answer is that rabbits do not like swimming and those in the wild will only do so if they are escaping from a predator. They do so when they are so frightened and it is a means of survival, not something they will do for fun. It is not one of their recreational activities.

They would rather hop, do binkies, flop, run, learn new tricks, jump,  and so on but not get your into the water, whether it is a lake, creek, river, pool, ocean or anything else. 

Therefore, under normal circumstances, these animals do not like large water bodies. Even bathing them stresses them a lot. In fact, they hardly can swim faster than their predators in case of an attack. 

How do bunnies swim? 

These animals have the “ability to swim by the age of 8 to 15 days. They use both their hind limbs and forelimbs to do so, just like humans use both their arms and legs” [3

Why not take your pet bunny for swimming?

Bunnies prefer being dry. Their undercoat can easily get very wet if you soak them in water and it takes a very long to dry. Frequent moisture can cause moist dermatitis, baldness, and so on. 

While in a pool, you struggle with water getting into your ears, nose, mouth, and eyes. This is a similar case for bunnies when they get into this cold chlorinated water. We do not want you to follow what you see on a video but truly care and love for this pet.  They may even not be able to get out of these pools! 

What of Aqua therapy

In controlled conditions, aqua therapy may help reduce joint pain in arthritic bunnies. However, this happens in a very controlled and supervised condition to minimize bunny discomfort. Your vet will guide you on this matter. 

What if it likes swimming 

If this happens to be the case, something that rarely happens, you can let it swim in ponds, lake or pools. Once it is done, ensure you thoroughly dry it. Use a towel and hair drier to keep it dry.  Keep drier setting at lowers temperature. 


The answer to whether rabbits can swim or not is yes. However, if you are asking if they like this activity or not, the answer is no. They only do it as a means of survival while trying to escape from a life-threatening situation. 

Therefore, do not make your bunnies swim. They do not like it and it may make the stress or cause shock and paralyzing anxiety followed by death. 

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