If you own a rabbit or are thinking about getting one as a pet, you will have considered all of the different things that constitute suitable care. Shelter, food and water are three of the most important things that any owner, or perspective owner, should consider. But what about tap water? Is this safe to even provide?
So, can rabbits drink tap water? It is usually safe for rabbits to drink tap water, so long as your rabbit is in good health, the water is clean and is suitable for human consumption. There is one caveat and that is if you live in an area with ‘hard water’. If so, you must exercise caution as this water will be naturally higher in minerals such as calcium and magnesium. These minerals must be controlled and not be consumed in excess by rabbits with pre-existing health complications, notably kidney and bladder issues. Generally, filtering water is the safest approach.
Either way, owners should provide their rabbits with a constant supply of water that is refreshed and replenished daily.
Rabbits tend to drink frequently throughout the day so most owners will choose to provide water in either a bottle or a bowl that is easily accessible at all times to their rabbits.
Ultimately, as long as owners are providing their bunnies with a sufficient supply of fresh, clean and safe water, then that is what is ultimately going to keep their pets hydrated, happy and healthy!
Let us now take a closer look at the main considerations regarding water for a rabbit; including a closer inspection of tap water, how much water a rabbit needs and signs of dehydration. So be sure to keep on reading!
Is Tap Water Bad For Rabbits?
For the most part, regular tap water – that is clean and fresh – is perfectly safe for healthy rabbits to drink. Many owners will often refill their rabbits water bottle or bowl from the outside tap.
However, we do need to clear up one quick distinction; soft and hard water.
- Soft Water – is treated and only contains minimal amounts of sodium
- Hard Water – contains dissolved minerals, including Calcium and Magnesium.
Rainwater is naturally soft. It is when it trickles through the land that it acquires these essential minerals.
These minerals are perfectly fine and healthy for us humans, and for most healthy rabbits to consume and process. In fact, they contribute to our health and this water is generally preferred.
However, for rabbits with pre-existing health conditions – especially those with kidney and bladder issues, these additional minerals, specifically calcium, can cause issues. Veterinarians will likely advise you of this.
It is therefore applicable, for some rabbits, to refrain from drinking hard water.
So, this is why it is recommended to identify your local water supplier and find out what kind of water is coming through the taps.
If its soft water, you’ll be perfectly fine.
If its hard water, you may need to consider other options.
This is why, along with other reasons like dirty water, why you may see some owners offering their bunnies bottled water. It does make a great alternative, albeit a costly one.
One thing for sure though, outside of minerals, is that all tap water provided from your local water supply should be free from harmful contaminants.
This is what makes tap water a suitable choice.
In the USA, Canada and most of Europe, there are regulations in place to ensure that tap water is clean and safe to consume. This means that the water that flows into our homes is not only safe for consumption by us, but also by our pets. So, tap water is safe for rabbits to drink.
Providing your rabbit with a constant supply of fresh, clean water is vital for their health and well-being.
For most rabbits, it does not matter if the water comes from the tap or is bottled, what is important is that there is enough of it and that the water is provided fresh daily.
Rabbits drink frequently, so ensuring that you are providing enough water is very important. The majority of the time, you will find that rabbits will opt to drink plain water, tap water fits the bill perfectly.
In some areas, the tap water may have been treated using chemicals such as chlorine. If you find you rabbit is hesitant to drink tap the tap water you have provided and you notice the tap water has a particularly strong chemically taste, this could be the case.
Tap water treated chemically is perfectly safe to drink, however its odor can be off-putting at first to humans and bunnies alike. With anything, the more we are exposed to it, the more we get used to it. The same can be said for your rabbit.
If you are choosing to provide tap water, you rabbit will get used to any distinct tastes and smells gradually. In time, it should not bother them.
If this is an issue for you or your pet rabbit, or you are concerned, offering bottled water as an alternative is absolutely fine too, although slightly more costly.
You could also consider filtering the water yourself. These Brita Everyday Pitchers are available from Amazon are a great way to offer filtered water, practically.
Leaving tap water to stand for about 30 minutes can also diminish the chemically, chlorine taste most of the time so that is also an option for when providing your rabbit with water.
How Much Water Does A Rabbit Need A Day?
Rabbits, when compared to other pets such as dogs or cats, are considered by some to be low maintenance.
However, this does not mean that they require less care and consideration. You will need to provide adequate drinking water and monitor this throughout the day, particularly in warmer weather.
As a general rule, adult rabbits drink around 200ml of water each day and baby rabbits will typically drink between 100-200ml of water per day.
Owners must provide at least 500ml of fresh water each day, per rabbit.
Providing enough water means that your bun will remain healthy and not suffer with symptoms of dehydration.
However, don’t be concerned if your rabbit – or rabbits – don’t routinely consume all of the water you provide. There can be many different factors that affect this.
The things that impact exactly how much a rabbit will typically drink in a day include:
- The age of the rabbit – older bunnies tend to drink less.
- The amount of fresh food in their diet. Fresh food such a fruits and veggies are naturally hydrating – they contain water. If you rabbits eats a lot of fresh food you may find that they drink less plain water.
- The size of your rabbit – it goes without saying, the bigger the bunny, the more water they will drink. Owners should provide more water for larger rabbits.
- The weather and temperature can also affect your rabbits intake of water. Just like humans, in warmer weather and throughout the summer months, rabbits will need more water. Giving them access to increased amounts by adding another bottle or bowl is a great idea.
- Whether a bowl or bottle is used. There are pros and cons to both. Some owners find that providing their rabbit with a water bowl makes the physical act of drinking easier for their bunny, whilst others opt for a bottle. We have had experience in the past of our rabbit (Hamish) kicking his bedding into his water bowl, thus making it challenging for him to drink.
It is important for owners to monitor their rabbits drinking habits and how much water their bunnies have a couple of times a day and refreshing or replacing the water as necessary.
How Long Can Rabbits Go Without Water?
A rabbit cannot and should not go for more than 24 hours (one day) without water. Providing adequate water for your pet rabbit is vital at all times of the year but particularly during periods of warmer weather.
If a rabbit does not drink enough water it can lead to dehydration and in extreme cases, organ failure and death. We cannot stress enough how important water is for your rabbit.
If your rabbit is drinking very little water, but not none at all, this is slightly less concerning or as imminently dangerous as if they were drinking absolutely no water at all.
If you notice a change in how much water your rabbit is consuming, we would always recommend seeking the advice of your local vet.
If you are concerned that your rabbit could be dehydrated, in the next section, we will outline symptoms to watch out for and how to encourage your pet rabbit to drink.
How Do I Know If My Rabbit Is Dehydrated?
There are several different signs and symptoms of dehydration in rabbits that owners should look out for:
- Your rabbit may appear lethargic and disorientated. Dehydration seriously affects a rabbit’s energy levels. Your pet may also seem uncharacteristically clumsy and uncoordinated – offer them water as a first port of call.
- Your rabbit may be eating less. If your rabbit isn’t drinking, it is also likely that because their body will not be functioning properly, they will not be eating either.
- Your rabbit may feel very hot to touch indicating that they have a fever. If your rabbit’s body temperature is above 103 degrees Fahrenheit, they’re in need of urgent vet care.
- Your rabbit may have tight skin. Owners can tell if this is the case by gently pinching their rabbit’s fur around the skin of her neck – if it doesn’t immediately go back to normal, as though made of elastic, dehydration is likely.
- Your rabbit’s urine may be more potent smelling. The ammonia scent becomes much more pronounced if your rabbit is dehydrated, it will also be darker in color.
- Your rabbit may be constipated and unable to pass stool.
If you notice your pet rabbit is experiencing any of these symptoms, as an owner, the first thing you should do is encourage your bun to drink some water. There are several different ways you can do this.
Rehydrating your rabbit is a process that will require an owner’s attention to ensure it has been successful.
Offer your rabbit water from both a bottle and a bowl – it could be that there is a simple reason your rabbit is experiencing dehydration. By offering water from both bottle and bowl you are ruling out you rabbit being fussy about how they drink.
Using a syringe filled with water and feeding your rabbit water directly into their mouths is an effective way of rehydrating them. It may seem a little uncomfortable at first and your bun may be slightly reluctant – however know that you are doing the right thing. A hydrated bunny is a healthy bunny. These 60ml syringes available on Amazon are useful for measuring just how much water your bunny has consumed.
In extreme cases, you will need to take your dehydrated rabbit to the vet – they will need IV fluids to rehydrate them.
Encouraging your rabbit to drink can be as simple as switching from a bowl to a bottle depending on their preference. You may also find that your rabbit will drink more if they are cleaned regularly and smell fresh and clean.
You can also add different things to you rabbits water occasionally to encourage them to drink more.
What Can Rabbits Drink Besides Water?
It is not advisable to offer your rabbit any other liquids to drink than fresh, clean water. However, on occasion, owners can add a few drops of naturally, unsweetened fruit or vegetable juices to their rabbit’s water.
This should not be the norm however, as plain water is a healthier alternative four your pet rabbit.
Natural juices such as apple or carrot juice is typically received well by pet rabbits!
For the most part, it is perfectly safe for rabbits to drink tap water that is also safe for human consumption. Rabbits should be given fresh water daily, either in a bowl or a bottle.
However, the one exception is if your rabbit has pre-existing kidney and bladder health conditions and you live in an area with a hard water supply.
If this is the case you may need to filter your water beforehand.
Ultimately, making sure that your rabbit is drinking enough water throughout the day is most important.
Typically, adult rabbits should drink around 200ml of water each day. A bottle with a measure gauge on the side can be useful to monitor just how much your bunny is drinking.