Yes, your rabbit can and should drink their water out of a bowl (also known as a crock). It’s the recommended method for drinking as it closely mimics how wild rabbits drink.
Drinking water is vital for a rabbit to stay hydrated and healthy, so regardless of what they drink from, make sure that your rabbit has plenty of fresh drinking water available to them.
Read on to learn why drinking from a bowl is better than other options, potential drawbacks, and how to introduce a bowl to your rabbit for the first time.
Why Bowls Are Better for Rabbits
The most important thing is that your rabbit gets enough water.
But once you’ve got that nailed, the best way to drink water is from a bowl. It’s a myth that water bottles are the best way for rabbits to drink.
Here’s why water bowls are better:
- More natural: Drinking mimics a rabbit drinking from the ground. It’ll feel more comfortable to be low to the ground.
- Faster to drink from: Without the limits of a bottle, rabbits can drink more water in a shorter space of time.
- They’ll drink more: Rabbits will keep eating and drinking as long as there’s food or water readily available. This way, your rabbit will always be hydrated.
- They don’t leak: A bowl won’t have faulty parts that can leak. Bottles often break and either fill the cage with water or creates a mini flood in your home.
- They won’t fall off or stop working: Using a bottle risks it falling or getting clogged and leaving your rabbit without water. A bowl won’t do either of those things.
- Easy to clean: Bowls can be easily wiped and cleaned, unlike bottles which have a tiny hole that makes it difficult to clean.
- Quiet to drink from: A rabbit lapping water from the bowl is almost silent. If you’ve ever had a bottle, you’ll be familiar with the loud, repetitive, and sometimes annoying sound of a rabbit drinking from their bottle.
Drawbacks of Rabbits Drinking From Bowls
There are some potential drawbacks of using a bowl instead of a bottle:
- Can be spilled: A rabbit could knock into it, kick it, or pick up a lightweight bowl and throw it. This can be helped by getting a heavier bowl (e.g. ceramic or stainless steel).
- Harder to track water levels: Bowls don’t typically have measurements so through topping it up or completely refilling it, it’s easy to lose track of how much water your rabbit has drunk. This is more important if they’re sick or in hot weather.
- Can be soiled: Poop, sawdust, hay, or just about anything can end up in the water bowl. With your rabbit moving around in the cage by the bowl, it can lead to the water being soiled and your rabbit refusing to drink until it’s been cleaned.
Alternatives to Bowls for Rabbits
If your rabbit can’t or won’t drink from a bowl, you’ll need to find something else that works for them so they can always have access to drinking water.
- The common option for rabbits is a plastic water bottle that usually clips on or attaches to the side of the cage or hutch. This is good for providing your rabbit with more water in one go, tracking their drinking, and won’t be soiled. The downside is that it could fall off or break, leaving your rabbit either without water or with a leak.
- There are also automatic water dispensers. These are usually more expensive but are a combination between a bottle and a bowl. It means your rabbit can go for longer before you have to refill the dispenser.
- Consider using a different type of water bowl. If your rabbit is upending a plastic bowl then you might find that switching the type of bowl will work for your rabbit (e.g. to ceramic).
Every rabbit is different so it’ll be trial and error until you figure out what works best. The most important thing will always be that they are drinking and staying hydrated.
How to Encourage Rabbits to Drink From a Bowl
If your rabbit isn’t drinking much, it could be a sign of a larger issue.
If they haven’t drank anything for 24 hours they’ll need to see a vet ASAP as dehydration can be fatal.
However, it could be that your rabbit is simply unused to drinking from a bowl and hasn’t realized what they need to do.
Try these steps to encourage your rabbit to drink water from a bowl:
- If your rabbit is currently drinking from a bottle or dispenser, bring a bowl of water in and leave them both at the same time. This allows your rabbit to explore the bowl but still have a water source.
- If they don’t notice the water bowl, try adding some fragrant herbs (like mint) or a couple of drops of juice (like orange or apple) to tempt them over to it.
- Clean and refill the bowl regularly. They probably won’t drink stale water, smells, or is the wrong temperature.
- Reward them after they drink from the water bowl with treats and positive words.
- Once they start drinking from the bowl, remove the bottle but keep an eye on them to make sure that they’re drinking enough.
For more information on what rabbits can drink including a full list of tips to encourage your rabbit to drink, check out our post all about this.
Can Rabbits Use a Plastic Bowl?
No, rabbits shouldn’t drink from a plastic bowl. They can easily get scratched, chewed, or damaged, leaving an opportunity for bacteria to grow. It’s also super lightweight, meaning your rabbit will be able to tip it over and throw it around.
Can Rabbits Use a Stainless Steel Bowl?
Yes, rabbits can use a stainless steel bowl. They’re sturdy which makes it harder for them to be tipped over and easy to clean. This makes a good option for your rabbit’s water to go in.
Can Rabbits Use a Ceramic Bowl?
Yes, rabbits can use a ceramic bowl. It’s a good option for a bowl – heavy enough that it can’t be moved by your rabbit but with all the benefits of it being natural to drink from and easy to clean. The only downside here is if the bowl falls from a height and breaks, so be careful where you place it in the cage.
Can Baby Rabbits Drink From a Water Bowl?
Yes, rabbits start drinking water from around three weeks old and should be encouraged to drink from water bowls. Just make sure that the water is shallow and in a heavy dish so the curious kit can try it safely.
How Often Should I Change My Rabbit’s Water?
Your rabbit’s water will need changing at least once a day. It’ll also need changing when the water runs out, if your rabbit hasn’t touched it in a few hours, or if there’s any dirt or material in there that shouldn’t be – like hay, urine, or poop for example.
How Often Should a Rabbit Water Bowl Be Cleaned?
You should clean your rabbit’s water bowl daily. This can be washing it in warm soapy water, and once a week using a rabbit-friendly cleaning product. Rabbits are fussy creatures, and if there’s any odor or dirt, they might refuse to drink it.