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Traditionally rabbits drink from those bottles that have a little ball in them and make an annoying noise.
For the longest time I thought I was a bad rabbit parent because our rabbits were totally free roam (or would have been if they weren’t terrified of stairs) and there was nowhere to put a bottle. Instead, they drank from a cereal bowl on the floor.
Eventually one of our rabbit could no longer drink from a bowl without soaking her dewlap (she was old) so we rigged up a bottle using a bottle attachment designed for a bike.
It was about this time that I discovered that bowls are actually better than bottles, so that became my preference. Of course, at the ned of the day, it’s the rabbit’s preference that matters.
How much water do rabbit need a day?
A startling amount. Like, some rabbits drink over a pint of water A DAY, which doesn’t seem that much until you consider that humans aren recommended to drink 2-3 pints a day and are considerably more than 2-3 times bigger than a rabbit.
Is it better to give rabbits a water bowl or a water bottle?
Scientifically speaking, bowls are better, because they’re more natural. Always offer your rabbit a bowl of water as an option.
HOWEVER some rabbits prefer bottles. I know, I didn’t believe that either until one of my rabbits was like that. But since she was 100% litter trained I let it slide and gave her a bottle.
What’s the problem with giving rabbits a water bottle?
Small animal water bottles are designed so that they only release water when the animals’s tongue moves the ball bearing. They were intended to be less messy than bowls, which rabbits like to throw around.
Bottle are popular because they’re convenient from the caregiver’s perspective, not the rabbit’s. It can difficult and frustrating for the rabbit to get as much water out of the bottle as they’d like, so often they give up, and end up drinking less than they want.
Drinking from a bowl is a far more natural way for a rabbit to drink – it’s much easier for them to drink as much as they want quickly.
Sure, they throw the bowl around and it gets full of hay and fur, but that’s all part of the fun of bunnies!
What to do if your rabbit can’t drink from a bowl
Give them a bottle. It’s not the end of the world. Some rabbits just prefer bottles.
If your rabbit has a large dewlap or ears that end up soaking, try a bowl that fixes to the side of the enclosure OR one of those bowls designed for spaniels, to stop their ears getting wet.
As long as your rabbit is drinking plenty, it really doesn’t matter if they won’t drink from a bowl.
What type of water should you give your rabbit?
My rabbits drink tap water, but I know a lot of people prefer to give theirs filtered or bottled water. I don’t know why, but I’m assuming that it’s because their tap water is unsafe.
The general rule of thumb here is that if you can drink it, your rabbit can drink it. Water, anyway. Don’t give rabbits wine.
I won’t drink filtered or bottled water myself because of the environmental factors, but I suppose I’m lucky enough to have great tap water.
If wild rabbits can make do with drinking out of muddy puddles, my rabbits can make do with tap water.
What to do if your rabbit won’t drink water
This is a fairly uncommon problem, so get your rabbit checked out by a vet – if your rabbit is dehydrated they can administer fluids.
Some rabbits are picky little sods that don’t like water – whilst you’re convincing them that they have to drink, you can increase leafy greens, because they’re packed full of water.
Another sneaky trick is to drop bits of banana in the water and see if they’ll take the bait. Pellets also work well here – add water to their pellets and make a pellet soup – they’ll be hard pushed to resist.
How to stop your rabbit spilling water
You need a really heavy, ceramic bowl – maybe with a paperweight in it. My old French lop was really strong, and could easily pick up a heavy ceramic bowl.
Since I only have little rabbits now, a cereal bowl works fine. If your bunny insists on playing with their water, you may need to get a bowl that attaches to the side of the cage.
A lot of people swear by automatic water dispensers, but a determined bunny will still be able to knock them over.