Just like humans, bunnies need to stay hydrated. But we often ask ourselves as Bunny Parents, what do bunnies drink? Can our bunny drink other tasty beverages as we do? Or must we stick to plain old water? We did some research and found some answers to help other Bunny Parents out there!
Water is vital for a healthy bunny. Make sure your cute little furball has a constant supply of fresh water. Unlike humans, bunnies won’t get bored with fresh water! Whether this is tap water or filtered water is dependent on what you drink and where you live.
A bunny will drink less water when it is unclean and old compared to clean, freshwater. For our bunny Grooty, we use filtered water because the tap water isn’t so nice! Some other liquids such as select, safe tea’s and fruit juices can potentially be given as a treat in small, diluted doses.
Water makes up approximately two-thirds of a bunny’s body. It helps the bunny move everything in the gut, digest good, absorb nutrients, and regulates body temperature within a normal range. But water isn’t only consumed from the water bowl or bottle (more on this later).
Water is also consumed through bunny food! However, this only accounts for a very small amount of a bunny’s required water intake so always make sure they have fresh water available. Not having drinking water for just one day could be fatal to your beloved bunny.
The importance of having a constant supply of freshwater available for your bunny cannot be stated enough. If access to freshwater for a bunny is deprived for a few hours, the bunny will reduce food and water intake even when water is reintroduced.
How Much Do Bunnies Drink a Day?
Bunnies drink approximately 100-600ml of water per day. This is equivalent to 50-100ml per 1kg of bodyweight. Baby bunnies drink water on the lower end (100-300ml) while adult rabbits consume water on the higher end. These are very general guidelines and will vary greatly between bunnies depending on:
- The size of the bunny (the bigger the bunny the more water they will consume)
- The temperature (warmer weather equals more water consumed)
- The bunnies age (water intake decreases as they age)
- The level of activity (water intake increases with activity)
- Other things being added to the water (vitamins or juices will increase water intake)
- Whether a bowl or bottle is used (bowl allows for more water to be consumed)
If your bunny starts drinking a lot more water than normal consistently, this could signal kidney disease or another serious health problem. Best checked by a vet, not the internet!
Should Your Bunny Drink Out of a Bowl or Bottle?
In our experience, a water bowl is far better than a water bottle. The water bottle didn’t allow our bunny to get much water. It would stay over half full for more than a day or two which really worried us considering it was only around 250ml!
Switching to a bowl showed us how much better it was for our bunny.
She now drinks half the bowl in a day which would be equivalent to our old water bottle.
An argument can be made for the use of a water bottle as it keeps the water clean, reduces any mess, and requires less changing. Furthermore, it can’t be contaminated with urine and poops. However, in our experience, our bunny just couldn’t drink enough out of it.
The flow of water is slow and our bunny had to get into awkward positions to drink out of it. The ball inside the metal tube of the water bottle means the water bottle has to be positioned with the spout facing down. If this tube touches any part of the floor, it tends to leak.
While the water bowl requires more frequent changing and can often be a place where toys are placed, it is a more natural way for the bunny to drink as bunnies usually drink water from the ground in the wild.
Furthermore, your bun can get more than one drop at a time! Bunnies generally favour open dishes compared to sipper bottles and can consume water three to four times faster from a bowl.
When selecting your water bowl, it’s ideal to use heavier ceramic bowls such as Groot’s bowl shown in the picture. This is just a small cereal bowl. A plastic bowl is easy to be thrown around like a toy which will leave your house a mess.
If you’re unsure which option your bunny likes, you can always have a water bowl and a water bottle hanging up. We did this in the beginning and found the water bottle stayed un-used making it an easy decision with what to keep.
What Else Can My Bunny Drink?
People consume an endless list of drinks. Can your bunny also consume liquids other than water? The answer to this question may surprise you. Yes! And No! But be careful. Bunnies have very sensitive tummies and if you’re not sure about something, stick with fresh water.
Tea is one beverage some bunnies love to drink. Here are some safe teas for your bunny:
- Lemon Balm
They mustn’t contain other herbs that could be dangerous and potentially fatal to your bunny.
You may have heard that rabbits can drink regular cow’s milk. Do Not Give Your Bunny Milk! Or any other dairy product for that matter. Bunnies become more and more lactose intolerant as they grow older. If a bunny consumes milk, symptoms may include indigestion, bloating, and diarrhea along with becoming lethargic.
Perhaps you would like your bunny to join the party. However, under no circumstances should you give your bunny alcohol!
Same as alcohol. Soda is a no go.
Same boat as alcohol and soda. Avoid caffeine.
Fruit juice is too acidic and concentrated for a bunny’s stomach. However, in small doses diluted in water for a treat, it can be ok. Just monitor your bunny to see if he/she responds badly. Be aware that your bunny may come to love that treat too much and refuse to drink water.
Help! Why is my Bunny Drinking Less Water?
Don’t panic (yet!). There a few reasons why a bunny may drink less water than normal.
Factors that affect water consumption:
- Air temperature – changes in air temperature may lead to drinking less water. Just like humans, bunnies will drink more water on hot days!
- Water temperature – if the water is close to freezing, they will drink less. They prefer colder water on hot days and lukewarm water on.
- Fresh food consumption – fresh food contains more water than dry food such as pellets. This will likely cause your bunny to consume a little less water from his/her bottle or bowl.
- Quality of the water – As we mentioned at the beginning of the article, filtered water will taste better than tap water especially in areas where tap water isn’t so clean.
- Cleanliness of the water bowl or bottle – Has it been cleaned recently? Perhaps a new bottle or bowl will excite the bunny.
You can do a quick test at home to see if your bunny is dehydrated. If you give a light pinch and lift with your fingers on the back of the neck, it will stay raised when you release instead of springing back to normal. If your bunny still won’t drink while dehydrated, see the vet as soon as possible.
Bunnies need a constant supply of fresh water to maintain their bodily functions. Since they consume a lot of water each day, it may be better to use a water bowl versus a water bottle but will likely come down to the personal preference of your bunny so try out both. Water should be the main source of fluids but some tea and fruit juices may be fine to drink when diluted and given as a treat.
However, don’t let your bunny like these too much and stop drinking water. There are many factors that affect water consumption in bunnies. Prioritising easy to control factors will make sure your bunny drinks their water.
Our experience with Grooty has led to us favouring water bowls over water bottles (and we would highly recommend this) as our little bun couldn’t drink enough water out of the bottle. We refill/change her water every morning and it is always past halfway consumed so we know she is well hydrated!