A rabbit could only go 24 hours (at most) without water. If they’re older, have a medical condition, live somewhere hot, and are particularly active, they won’t be able to go as long without water. As well as food and hay, water is one of the most important parts of a rabbit’s survival.
Your rabbit should drink a minimum of ten percent of their body weight in water every day. This will vary with every rabbit of course, but for a four-pound rabbit, it roughly equals 180ml of water per day.
If your rabbit has access to fresh drinking water but is refusing to drink any, you’ll need to get in touch with a vet ASAP – as they can quickly become dehydrated and deteriorate in health.
How Much Should My Rabbit Drink Per Day?
As mentioned earlier, your rabbit needs to drink at least ten percent of their body weight of water every day.
There are a few factors that might affect how much your rabbit needs to drink:
- The size of your rabbit (the bigger your rabbit, the more water they’ll need).
- The age of your rabbit (younger rabbits need more water to help them grow).
- The temperature outside (they’ll need more water when it’s hot outside).
- Their diet (some fresh greens and fruits contain high water content, and are beneficial for their nutrients too. But a rabbit eating mainly pellets and hay with little vegetables will need extra water).
- How active they are (a rabbit who’s been sprinting around for hours will have sweated more and will need to re-hydrate after all the exercise).
- If they have a medical condition (a sick rabbit might become dehydrated and require extra water to help them get healthy again).
If you have more than one rabbit, they’ll need enough water per rabbit – whether that’s more than one bowl or refilling it more often.
Why Rabbits Need Water
It’s crucial for your rabbit’s health that they don’t go for too long without drinking. They are many reasons why it’s so important that they stay hydrated:
- To maintain their body temperature: Rabbits can drink water to keep them cool, which is especially important in hot climates.
- Keeps their blood flowing: This is important to keep the rabbit’s organs functioning correctly.
- Flushes excess minerals and toxins: This is how rabbits get harmful toxins out of their system (e.g. calcium).
- Helps them to absorb nutrients: When they take the goodness from their food.
- Keeps their digestive tract running smoothly: To help remove waste from their body. Rabbits lose water through sweat, urine, breathing, and poop. If they’re struggling to poop, they could end up with a blockage.
Domesticated rabbits will rely entirely on their owners to provide drinking water, while rabbit rabbits tend to build their warrens close to a fresh water source.
What Happens if a Rabbit Doesn’t Drink?
If your rabbit is dehydrated, there are some common signs to look for:
- Acting lethargic.
- Not eating.
- Unusual toilet habits.
- Dark and smelly urine.
- Their poop pellets are dry and hard.
- Drooling thick saliva.
- Crusty eyes.
- Tight skin (if you pinch their skin and it doesn’t snap back into place).
A dehydrated rabbit could also develop one of three fatal conditions – organ failure, kidney stones, and intestinal blockages. This can become fatal within hours (or sooner) so it’s imperative to act quickly, take them to a vet and try to persuade them to drink.
In some cases, they might develop heatstroke, or they might go into gastrointestinal stasis. Both of these conditionals are dangerous if untreated, but usually require a combination of other factors such as not eating and no air circulation.
How to Rehydrate Your Rabbit
If your rabbit hasn’t been drinking, there are a few things you can try to get them hydrated before they have to go to a vet.
The first option is to syringe feed your rabbit water. This involved placing the end of the syringe directly in your rabbit’s mouth and releasing water in short bursts (allowing them enough time to swallow). If they aren’t swallowing, they’ll need to go to the vet ASAP and have an IV drip.
You could also give them a few drops of fruit juice to tempt them – for more information, head over to this post. Other tips include putting ice cubes in the water, switching to a new bowl, and adding some fruit or herbs (that they can have) to entice them into drinking.
Reasons Why Your Rabbit Might Not Drink
Rabbits are picky animals.
Sometimes them refusing to drink could be down to something you can easily fix.
Your rabbit might not be drinking because:
- Their bowl is dirty: This could be from bacteria, urine, dust, or anything else that they don’t like the look or smell of.
- The water is the wrong temperature: Some rabbits won’t drink warm water, or ice-cold water – opting for a cool balance between the two.
- Switch from a bottle to bowl: Or vice versa. (Check out this post for more on this).
- They don’t like the taste: If the tap water has traces of chemicals or lead in they might not like it. Try purifying the water or using bottled for a little while.
- They have a mouth problem: Too long teeth, infections, or injuries in the mouth could make it uncomfortable for your rabbit to drink. Get a check-up with a vet if you think this could be the reason.
- They’re sick: A rabbit who is sick might be masking their illness but be unable to drink. You’d usually see signs like no appetite and lethargy.
There is also a chance that your rabbit might be full and hydrated and don’t need any more at that time. But you’ll notice quite quickly if there are any other signs or if they don’t drink over a few hours.